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date: 23 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This essay suggests that activist rhetoric and imprecise language should be discarded when studying gender and violence. Violence against women should be compared to violence against men and not studied in isolation. It should be studied primarily as violence not sexism, based on well-established principles from the social psychology of aggression. Such an approach emphasizes the violent actor’s point of view and the role of interpersonal conflict, self-presentation, grievance, and retribution. Power and control may play a role in violence against men and women, but other motives are also important. In addition, theorizing should consider well-known sex differences in physical size, sexuality, and emotion. Men’s stronger bodies and sexual interests, and women’s greater tendency to get angry, have important implications. Finally, chivalry should be an important element in any discussion of violence against women. Violence against women occurs despite (not because of) societal norms.

Keywords: gender, social psychology of aggression, intimate-partner violence, sexual assault, chivalry, anger, conflict

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