WA Centre for Rural Health gender survey: Alarming results of Geraldton snapshot reveal bias
Men are five times more likely than women to believe that if a rape victim wears revealing clothing she is partially responsible and that women often “say no when they mean yes”, according to a revealing Geraldton survey.
The authors of a new study revealing the prevalence of disrespectful attitudes towards women hope their research will get Geraldton residents talking about gender equality.
The Local Community Attitudes and Exposure to Violence Survey was developed by the WA Centre for Rural Health to inform and measure the effectiveness of Geraldton-based family and domestic violence primary prevention strategies.
Survey data indicated Geraldton men were almost six times as likely as women to say violence by a man against a woman could be excused if the offender was heavily intoxicated by alcohol, or if the man genuinely regretted what he had done.
Male respondents were 11 times as likely as women to believe men made better political leaders than women, six times as likely to believe men should take control and be head of the household, and six times as likely to say they were more likely to listen to a man’s opinion than a woman’s.
Many male and female respondents thought there was no harm in men making sexist jokes with their friends about women.
The report stated disrespectful jokes were a problem as they reinforced gender stereotypes “among those who already believe them to be true”.
Digital and printed versions of the survey were circulated around Geraldton at the end of 2019, with answers from 914 respondents received.
Part of the survey results were released to The Geraldton Guardian this week, at a time when sexual violence against women has never been more in the spotlight, with sexual abuse survivor Grace Tame named Australian of the year and ex-Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins speaking about her alleged rape at Parliament House, sparking a campaign for cultural change.
It means that the perpetrator feels that their actions of violence are justified and defensible, meaning they may be more likely to repeat such behaviours in future.
A preliminary report about the data stated these were examples of “victim-blaming”, which placed the burden of responsibility for a violent act on the person on the receiving end of the violence.
“This is a problem because victim-blaming may stop those who are being abused from reaching out and seeking help, as they may feel that it is their fault or be made to feel guilty by others about what they have experienced,” the report said.
“Additionally, it means that the perpetrator feels that their actions of violence are justified and defensible, meaning they may be more likely to repeat such behaviours in future.”
Western Australian Centre for Rural Health director Dr Sandra Thompson said the differences in responses between men and women were not unexpected.
Dr Thompson said the next step would be using the results of the study to spark conversations about the importance of changing disrespectful attitudes.
“While I wouldn’t say it isn’t incredibly surprising, it is really important having local data because then we can talk about these issues ... It is really about us having conversations locally,” she said.
“If we are going to overcome violence towards women, we need to have people who understand the importance that public discourse around the role of women has.”
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