Same old story? Children and young people's continued normalisation of men's violence against women

McCarry, Melanie and Lombard, Nancy (2016) Same old story? Children and young people's continued normalisation of men's violence against women. Feminist Review, 112 (1). pp. 128-143. ISSN 0141-7789 (

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Globally, nationally and locally men's violence against women is an endemic social problem and an enduring human rights issue within all societies and cultures. Challenging attitudes that condone violence both at the individual and community level is a key priority in its prevention. This paper brings together findings from two separate studies based on children's and young people's understandings of men's violence against women. Both studies were located in Glasgow, Scotland, and used qualitative methods to explore children's and young people's views of men's violence against women. The two studies, conducted nearly ten years apart, involved children aged 11 and 12 and young people aged 15 to 18. Despite the differences in age and the interval between them, there are remarkable similarities identified within both studies centring around children and young people's normalisation of men's violence against women. This paper presents a discussion of three of the key themes identified from these studies: the construction of men's violence; gender roles and the naturalisation of difference; and the normalisation of men's violence. In both studies the techniques of normalisation were employed by the participants to minimise both the seriousness of the violence and the significance of it to the victims. The findings clearly illustrate the widespread justification of gendered violence by both boys and girls. Thus, while the development and implementation of domestic violence/abuse education programmes need to take into account gender differences, targeting only boys' attitudes fails to acknowledge an important component in reducing domestic violence/abuse: the internalisation of patriarchal norms by girls and women.