The Effects of Socialization on Gender Discrimination and Violence: A case study from Lebanon | Gender | Socialization

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Oxfam initiated the idea of the research to explore answers to one question: Why do men behave the way they do? Why do men tend to be violent against women? The research framework focused on the socialization process of men during their life cycle, from childhood to adolescence and manhood. The research interviewed men from different age groups and social classes, using questionnaire and focus group discussion methods. The results have informed our community-based campaign to end gender-based violence, by understanding the ways in which men think they can positively change their attitudes to end violence against women. Thus, the research paper provides a detailed and critical understanding of the social context behind gender-based violence, with eye-opening results and a call for action. Key findings include: women’s role as seen in terms of dedication and devotion to their families, a role which grants them trust
   The Effects of Socialization on Gender Discrimination and Violence  , Oxfam GB Research Report, March 2011 1 The Effects of Socialization on Gender Discrimination and Violence    A Case Study from Lebanon Authors Dr. Christine Sylva Hamieh Dr. Jinan Usta Beirut, Lebanon   OXFAM RESEARCH REPORT     The Effects of Socialization on Gender Discrimination and Violence  , Oxfam GB Research Report, March 2011 2 Contents Executive summary 3 1. Introduction 5 2. Conceptual framework 5 3. Socialisation and violence 6 Patriarchal systems, power, and violence 6 Fieldwork and site selection 7 The socialisation of boys 11 Masculinity 13 Solutions to violence against women and power negotiation 16 4. Conclusion and Recommendations 17 Bibliography 19 Acknowledgements 22   The Effects of Socialization on Gender Discrimination and Violence  , Oxfam GB Research Report, March 2011 3 Executive summary Violence Against Women (VAW) is a major public-health and social problem which jeopardises wome n’s development and abuses many of their basic human rights. Recent interventions to combat the problem have focused on including men –  not as holders or perpetuators of privileges, but rather as potential and actual contributors to gender equality. These initiatives to include men in programmes to end VAW have achieved some success so far. Several studies in the Arab world have highlighted the importance of addressing VAW. However, of all gender-related issues it still receives the least recognition and acknowledgement from Arab states and policy makers. Instead, the struggle continues to be led by women’s organisations fighting to remove all forms of discrimination against women. Accordingly, a regional three-year programme (2009 – 2011), funded by Oxfam and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, entitled Strategies and  Approaches to Working with Men and Boys to End Violence against Women, has been initiated. In Lebanon, it has been implemented by Oxfam GB in partnership with KAFA (Enough) Violence and Exploitation Against Women and Children. This document is a report on a pilot study on ‘ The Effects of Socialization on Gender and Violence ’ , an activity component of the programme. This research is a pioneer initiative in Lebanon, aimed at enhancing our understanding of the context that shapes men’s gender roles and affects their behaviours, practices, and attitudes towards gender equality, with an explicit focus on VAW. The design of the study was based on the following research questions: whether culture plays a role in shaping men’s gendered roles; how gender power and masculinity create authority over women, and therefore whether men would consent to yield authority to women; how men can be victims of violence themselves; how men feel about VAW; and how they see change happening. The research took place in the Baalbek area. A cross-sectional survey and seven focus-group discussions were used for the research. Two-hundred and seventy-three men engaged in the survey and 73 participated in the focus groups. Their ages ranged between 18 and 75, and they represented different religious groups, levels of education, marital status, working conditions, and residential areas (urban and rural). The findings indicated that a good deal of role-gendering occurred during childhood. In particular, male adolescents were expected by their parents to be strong as adults, to be like their fathers, and to control and protect women; parents reinforce this gendering by being proud of boys if they are tough, strong, brave, and more of a ‘ man ’ , and by being proud of girls if they are helpful in performing household chores, obedient, and beautiful. Boys were given priority and entitlement over their female siblings by being their providers and being made responsible for their security and honour. The research findings also revealed that as an adult the typical man perceives his role to be the provider for the family, a decision maker, an authoritarian, a protector who is powerful and strong, and who punishes his family members when they make mistakes. Men are found to be pressured by their society to   The Effects of Socialization on Gender Discrimination and Violence  , Oxfam GB Research Report, March 2011 4 fulfil that role, and as a result they consider themselves to be victims. At the same time, however, most of them enjoy the power that this role provides. Furthermore, the fin dings show that men consider the woman’s role in terms of being dedicated and devoted to her family: a role which, if fulfilled, will grant her the trust of her family and husband. Paid employment for women is perceived to jeopardise this role, threaten male supremacy, and challenge the control exercised by men. Men considered respect, obedience, and marital obligation as non-negotiable rights. Some men questioned their future role in the event of women becoming providers. Many of the male respondents were raised in a violent environment and were commonly using violence as a way to express anger and resolve disputes. Most  justifications given for the use of VAW related to women’s ‘ bad ’  behaviour, with no acknowledgement of men’s responsibility for the violen ce. Interestingly, many men, mostly married, felt proud and relieved after a violent outburst, perceiving themselves as having done the right thing. In conclusion, the study indicated that gender roles are social constructs that are propagated by parents during childhood. However, both sexes suffer from its consequences. With women assuming more productive and income-generating roles, many men feel their supremacy to be threatened. Many even wondered about the role that they will be expected to play in the future. As a result, violence is likely to be perceived as a defence used by men to protect their vanishing role. A way to combat VAW would therefore be to break the gender-role stereotypes and encourage individuals to assume the social roles that they themselves choose, regardless of their gender. The study makes a number of recommendations for action, such as (among others) a call for a change in attitude on the part of communities; the establishment of centres to provide counselling services for victims; empowering women economically; and targeting governments and religious leaders to secure political will and commitment to end gender inequalities and gender-based violence. This study also provides an opportunity for Oxfam GB, KAFA, and other interested women’s organisations to  use the recommendations for their on-going work with men and boys to end VAW in the area.
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