Bravo. A former AFL star weighs in on how to change young people’s attitudes about sex and relationships, and ultimately reduce sexual and domestic violence.
A report into young peoples’ attitudes about relationships and sex, released last week, showed that 1 in 3 young people think that exerting control over someone else isn’t a form of violence. 1 in 4 don’t think it’s serious for men to insult or verbally harass women in the street, and that 16% think that women should “know their place”.
These attitudes are incredibly concerning because they contribute to a culture that perpetuates male dominance over women and normalises controlling or violent behaviours within relationships.
In addition, 1 in 4 young people think it’s normal for guys to pressure girls in to sex, and that it’s not serious if a guy, who’s normally gentle, sometimes slaps his girlfriend when he’s drunk.
This powerful advertisement raises awareness of domestic violence. [Post continues after video].
If we accept that pressuring someone into sex is rape (which it is, or is at least very close), then 25% of young people think rape is normal, and 25% also that physical violence isn’t serious. Obviously, these are incredibly concerning.
There is no single reason for the attitudes uncovered in this report. They exist in men and women, boys and girls, and cut across racial, religious, and socio economic divides. Many suggest that video games like Grand Theft Auto are to blame, while others think that we can blame wrestling, boxing or cage fighting. Others point to a moral decay brought about by the internet, social media and smart phones.
Yet, the ideas of male dominance over women and men as heads of households have been around for centuries, if not millennia, and are present in most, if not all countries across the world. They are passed down through generations, via friends, family, and the media landscape of the time.
They don’t exist purely because of the technological advancements of recent decades. With the exception of pornography’s influence on the sex lives of young people, none of the attitudes above are new. So while they are shocking and concerning, they shouldn’t necessarily be surprising.
In response, Our Watch has launched The Line, a social marketing campaign to engage young people in conversations about respectful relationships and dating. It has also been designed to provide information to community ‘influencers’, such as teachers, parents and sports coaches.