Accepted paper:

Unpacking the meaning of domestic violence in a context of poverty and law reform in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico


Joan van Wijk (vrije Universiteit (VU))

Paper short abstract:

This paper is based on PhD research among lower class men, who had perpetrated domestic violence. It shows the conflicts they experience between their own realities in which violence has become normalized, and the legislation that demands non-violence within the domestic sphere.

Paper long abstract:

This research shows how experiences of everyday violence create a process of normalization of violence. Normalization enables both the endurance of violence, as its reproduction. Violence has become a normal way of expressing anger and domination both in the domestic realm and outside of it. The violence committed against partners should not be seen in isolation of other forms of violence. This context in which violence is reproduced has become obscured by a discourse of 'machismo' that legitimizes male violence. Little attention is given to the processes behind this identity construction. Coping with everyday violence leads to the adherence of a dominant performance of masculinity, which is both cause and consequence of everyday violence. Legislators, (non) governmental organizations, and popular media in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico give increasing attention to domestic and sexual violence. The public is being informed about the unacceptability of such violence. Most attention goes out to women, and although the perpetrators of violence - men- can receive free psychological treatment, most attention they receive is repressive. Few efforts are undertaken to explore what meaning violence against women represents to them. Violence is considered to be generated by unequal gender relations and a 'macho', performance of masculinity. Women know they no longer have to accept the violent enforcement of male dominance, and they increasingly report domestic and sexual violence. The outside interference in male authority leaves men wondering how to 'do' masculinity without being able to enforce their dominant position within the household.

panel W072
Masculinities in times of uncertainty and change