WRITTEN BY STEVE ST. ANGELO | ILLUSTRATIONS BY ANDY SNAIR
Gender equality is associated with lower odds of intimate partner violence.
As PhD student Andrew Corley*, Professors Nancy Glass and Nancy Perrin, and Congolese colleague Mitima Mpananoa report in “A Latent Class Analysis of Gender Attitudes and their Associations with Intimate Partner Violence and Mental Health in the Democratic Republic of Congo” (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health):
Results indicated that, as compared to the least gender equitable class, individuals in the moderately gender equitable and fully gender equitable classes had lower odds of having experienced or perpetrated psychological abuse. Individuals within the moderately gender equitable class were at lower odds of having experienced or perpetrated physical or sexual violence. Those in the moderately gender equitable and fully gender equitable classes had lower odds of having experienced or perpetrated psychological abuse than those in the least gender equitable class. Individuals in the moderately gender equitable class were at lower odds of having experienced or perpetrated psychological or sexual violence.
In societies with strict gender roles that value and reward traditional notions of masculinity over those of femininity, both sexes’ physical and mental health and well-being can be negatively impacted. In such male-dominated, gender-inequitable societies, women face a narrowed scope of possibilities and independence and develop a sense of subservience and lack of self-worth. Alternatively, males learn that dominance, reinforced physically when necessary, brings success. In fact, “Such hegemonic masculinities can be damaging to individuals’ and families’ health and well-being by predisposing men to violence and substance abuse; discouraging their participation in caregiving and household chores; promoting risky sexual behaviors; and permitting intimate partner violence.”
And the kids are watching: The importance of conducting such research becomes increasingly clear as scholarship continues to clarify how gender attitudes and emotional trauma are transmitted intergenerationally to influence the health of future generations, the authors conclude. “This use of IPV by men against their spouses is not only an enormous threat to the mental and physical health of women globally, but also an influential factor in the future attitudes and behaviors of children who witness it.”