25 Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence

Rebecca Yoshizawa

Dominant gender ideology underpins some forms of violence in society. In patriarchy, men are capacitated to survive and thrive more so than, and sometimes at the expense of, women and other marginalized people. However, patriarchy is also harmful to men. Hegemonic masculinity denies men physical and mental safety. The analysis suggests that social inequality perpetuates violence in society.

Intimate partner violence refers to harm that is caused by an intimate partner, such as a dating partner or spouse. Domestic violence is a term that can also be used to describe such harms, but this term can also refer to abuse towards children or other adults in a home, such as elders; in addition, intimate partner violence need not occur in “domestic” or home-like settings, but could happen anywhere.

"Image of a cellphone text message screen from 'Jenn.' Jenn has sent three messages. They read: 'I'm sorry you're going through this. I hope you know you never deserve to be hurt like that.' 'I am not sure what to do unless you can tell me what you need or how I can help. How could I best help you?' 'And thank you for sharing your experience with me. I know it was probably very hard.'"

One of the ways that we can advance the idea that social inequality, such as patriarchy, perpetuates violence in society is to consider how violence often comes from someone seeking to assert power over their intimate partner, or control them. This assertion of power can be through different forms of violence, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. In Canada, women and girls are more likely to experience intimate partner violence than men. The preponderance of violence against women is one way that patriarchy is visible in society.[1] Yet we can, again, connect violence towards men to patriarchy; men are less likely to report violence they experience at the hands of an intimate partner, possibly because victimization is contrary to dominant western understandings of masculinity.

Indigenous women and women in same-sex relationships are also more likely to experience intimate partner abuse,[2] indicating that it is not merely gender hierarchies, but social inequalities related to race and sexuality, that perpetuate violence.

Intimate partner violence: physical, emotional, or sexual abuses that occur in the context of intimate partner relationships

  1. See https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/stop-family-violence/problem-canada.html
  2. See https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/stop-family-violence/problem-canada.html


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Gender in Canada: A Companion Workbook Copyright © 2023 by Rebecca Yoshizawa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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