GENDER VICTIMIZATION

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Women have been the most frequent victims of the gender roles existing in the society. A gender role is a theoretical construct in the social sciences and humanities that refers to a set of social and behavioral norms that, within a specific culture, are widely considered to be socially appropriate for individuals of a specific gender. Gender roles stem from the genders themselves. Gender refers to an individual’s inner sex or psychological sense of being a male or female irrespective of one’s (outer) sex identity as determined by one’s sexual organs. There are two main genders: masculine (male) and feminine (female). There are a set of characteristics which cluster around each of these genders. These characteristics are deemed to be the identifying factors of the gender. This gives birth to the stereotyping of gender roles. Stereotyping of gender roles is nothing but generalizing a set of characteristics as masculine or feminine. For instance, characteristics such as love, care, sacrifice, etc. are associated with the feminine gender whereas qualities such as bravery, strength, etc. are considered to be masculine. Traditional gender roles portray women as a soft and vulnerable lot who need protection and men as physically strong and capable of protecting them. This established male superiority over females and the latter were labelled as the ‘weaker sex’. Hence, women were sought to be discriminated against and were thus victimized through the demarcation of their role in the society. Discrimination and victimization came hand-in-glove with belonging to the feminine gender. They were confined within the four walls of the house and the only job deemed fit for them were the household chores. Women became helpless victims of gender stereotypes and all kinds of violence began to be perpetrated against them. Gender and domestic violence have forged an inherent relationship. Domestic violence can assume myriad forms. It is not confined only to physical violence, but also covers within its purview mental and sexual abuses. The society since traditional times has viewed women as nothing more than a chattel or property which belongs to her husband. It is considered the husband’s birth right to control his wife and if the latter does not perform the tasks expected out of her, then she is subjected to all kinds of torture—physical, mental and sexual. One of the ways through which gender victimization materializes is through domestic violence.

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‘He for the field and she for the hearth, He for the sword and she for the needle.’ 

– Lord Tennyson

 

The above quote represents the gender-based division of labor as exists in the society. Women due to their ‘frail’ physiology are considered suitable only for household work and are looked upon as homemakers. Physical violence is often inflicted upon women if they fail to strictly adhere to their supposed role of homemaker. Moreover, greater physical prowess bestowed upon men fashion their minds in such a way that violence such as wife-beating is considered to be masculine and is equated with ‘keeping one’s wife under his thumb’. Processes of socialization have also contributed to a large extent to gender-based violence. Processes of socialization of males and females are starkly different. While males are taught to be aggressive and demanding, females are trained to be submissive and adjusting. Since childhood their minds are shaped in such a way so as to enable them to become efficient housewives. Such defective processes of socialization have given rise to a plethora of women who consider being subjected to domestic violence as their immutable fate and have accepted it as a duty cast upon them to suffer at the hands of their husbands. Hence, it can be seen that the gendered perception of the sexes has caused to a greater extent the victimization of women.