Children, Young People and Violence Against Women: Using Temporal Frameworks to Destabilise Gender and Heterosexuality

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 16:15
Location: Übungsraum 4A KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Nancy LOMBARD, Glasgow Caledonian University, United Kingdom
My research looks at the attitudes of primary school children to men’s violence against women revealing worrying attitudes to violence but also to gender equality. Young people justify men’s violence against women using gender stereotypes and a rigid understanding of adult relationships framed by heterosexuality and marriage. They often blame women for the violence directly or see the violence as a consequence of the woman not fulfilling ‘her role’. This is in contrast to how young girls view themselves now. Currently they hold ambitions and feel, presently, there were few restrictions to achieving their goals. They see this as changing dramatically however when they are married and have children.

This paper argues that gender is not a process of becoming (in the same way that childhood is not), but age refracts how gender is experienced, anticipated and reproduced by the young people themselves. The dimension of age (and in particular their lived experience of childhood) impacts upon how they experience gender now and how they anticipate it in the future. I contend that temporality is a useful conceptual framework with which to understand heterosexuality (and gender identities) because it too is fluid and in a constant state of movement and flux, rather than a static, constant entity. As such, it is also a useful tool to help destabilise the rigidity of the heterosexual framework. Therefore it is critical to engage with the transitory nature of gender, as an ongoing process rather than in terms of a precursor to adulthood identity. By introducing the dynamic concept of ‘transitions’; there is more fluidity in how young people are able to construct and define their own gendered identities, rather than adhering to adultist (heterosexualised) frameworks which are imperative when working on preventive strategies.