33 SES 04 A, Gender and Sexuality Based Violence
Research has revealed the coercive dominant discourse (CDD) (Racionero-Plaza et al., 2020) pressuring many young women to hook up with men with violent behaviors who often despise or harass them (Gómez, 2015). This CDD imposes the link between pleasure and dominance among many women, promoting a double standard that separates pleasure from sex and love (Rios-González et al., 2018). Therefore, already from school age, girls and women are told through narratives – on the media, peer interactions, etc. – influenced by the CDD that relationships where there is dominance are more exciting and fun than egalitarian ones, and many women end up internalizing such narratives and showing a coerced preference towards the former (Ruiz-Eugenio et al., 2020). A recent study revealed that female participants who engaged in coerced relationships – influenced by the pressures of the CDD – were not only pressured to have them, but also to tell their peers false narratives about them, telling them they were pleasurable while recognizing in the interviews they were not and were, in many cases, disgusting. Interviews showed that, by repeating these false narratives over and over again, they ended up believing them. Still, more research needs to be conducted on the consequences that associating power and coercion with pleasure has on future sexual-affective relationships. This paper presents results obtained from a study that aimed at shedding light in this aspect.
After 12 interviews with women 20-29 years old, findings highlight three models of women according to whether or not they have engaged in coerced relationships, how they remember them, and where they find pleasure in their current relationships: (1) has suffered pressures from the CDD but has not fallen on its influence, associates pleasure with love and freedom; (2) has fallen on the pressures of the CDD and remembers coerced relationships as fun and pleasurable, linking pleasure with power and coercion; (3) has fallen on the pressures of the CDD but has made a transformation by remembering coerced relationships as disgusting and lacking pleasure, now associates pleasure to love and freedom.
The third model reveals two important aspects which contribute to breaking the link between pleasure and dominance that can be tackled through education. On the one hand, participants in the third model acknowledge that through critically reflecting on those relationships, their memories change, realizing they had engaged in them due to peer pressure and that, in spite of the lies they told, they had not enjoyed any part of them. This means that providing students with tools and dialogic spaces to critically reflect on past relationships, such as Dialogic Feminist Gatherings with university students (Puigvert, 2016; Ruiz-Eugenio et al., 2020), can awaken critical memories (Racionero-Plaza et al., 2018) which allow them to recount coerced relationships the way they really occurred, hence developing rejection towards them. On the other hand, participants in the third model acknowledged that one of the key elements in this transformation was friendship. One participant recognized that the women who had pressured her to have such relationships were not true friends, and that it was when she made new, good friends that she started talking about coerced relationships in an honest manner. Therefore, promoting good and honest friendships from early years in school can protect them from having peer relationships which pressure them to do things they do not want to do (Fink & Hughes, 2019). Dialogic Literary Gatherings have been found to promote among primary school students to promote an increase in friendship (León-Jiménez et al., 2020), and they have been reported to promote the emergence of interactions full of desire towards non-violent relationships (López de Aguileta et al., 2020).
This study has been conducted following the Communicative Methodology (CM) of research (Gómez González, 2021; Soler & Gómez, 2020), validated and promoted by the international scientific community due to its social impact. The CM aims at taking into account all the voices by establishing an egalitarian dialogue between researchers and research participants, in which the former bring in the scientific knowledge and evidence on the issue and the latter bring in the knowledge obtained from their experience, in order to provide meaning to what is happening and identify elements that can contribute to transforming reality. For this study, researchers conducted 12 interviews to women between the ages of 20 and 29 living in different geographical areas in Spain, some with a Master’s degree and all of them with a Bachelor’s degree. Following the scientific and ethical rigor of the CM, all participants provided an informed written consent to participate in the study and for the data to be used for research purposes while granting complete anonymity of their persona. Some of them gave consent to be audio recorded, and others gave consent for the researchers to take notes on the interviews. During the interviews, participants were asked questions regarding past and current sexual-affective relationships. Given the sensitive quality of the questions being made, participants were reminded from the beginning to the end of the interviews that they could withdraw from the study or ask not to respond to specific questions at any point they chose to. Nonetheless, none of the participants either withdrew from the study or requested for the interviews to be stopped. After analyzing the data, the study’s results were sent to all participants for them to review them, and they were asked whether they agreed with them or wanted to modify or remove anything. However, all of them agreed with the results and with sharing them in scientific forums and publications.
Through previous evidence and our own observations of society, we can confirm the existence of the CDD in different contexts (Puigvert et al., 2019), as well as its devastating consequences for many women who, years later, either engage in egalitarian relationships while giving up pleasure, or in relationships with violent men in which they associate pleasure with the coercion and power relationship. The CDD takes the pleasure of falling in love from many young women and adolescents, stealing a right that every human being deserves to have. However, this study sheds light on the potential for the transformation of desire that friendships and dialogue pose, propelling dialogues that break the link between pleasure and dominance and that promote egalitarian relationships as desirable. In this sense, findings regarding the third model are especially relevant when it comes to education. In order to promote the transformations of memories and desire related to violent hook-ups, it is of upmost relevance for schools to provide students with dialogic spaces in which they can critically discuss the CDD and coerced relationships and create friendships which can protect them from such discourse and lead them to having pleasurable relationships free from any violence and coercion. In order to tackle these issues through education, we must provide children and youth with the tools and dialogic spaces to reflect on them critically and to, if they so desire, confront the CDD and develop egalitarian and free relationships without having to give up pleasure. This work poses some limitations by using only binary conceptions of gender and focusing on heterosexual relationships. Taking these limitations into account, further research on the CDD could focus on LGBTQI+ individuals. In this sense, previous research has already identified elements such as aggressiveness and dominance in homosexual individuals’ partner preferences (Bailey et al., 1997).
Bailey, J.M; Kim, P.Y., Hills, A., & Linsenmeier, J.A. (1997). Butch, femme, or straight acting? Partner preferences of gay men and lesbians. Journal of personality and social psychology, 73(5), 960. Fink, E., & Hughes, C. (2019). Children's friendships. Pychologist, 32, 28-31. https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.40186 Gómez González, A. (2021). Science With and for Society Through Qualitative Inquiry. Qualitative Inquiry, 27(1), 10–16. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077800419863006 León-Jiménez, S., Villarejo-Carballido, B., López de Aguileta, G., & Puigvert, L. (2020). Propelling Children’s Empathy and Friendship. Sustainability, 12(18), 7288. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187288 López de Aguileta, G., Torras-Gómez, E., García-Carrión, R., & Flecha, R. (2020). The emergence of the language of desire toward nonviolent relationships during the dialogic literary gatherings. Language and Education, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/09500782.2020.1801715 Puigvert, L. (2016). Female University Students Respond to Gender Violence through Dialogic Feminist Gatherings. International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 5(2), 183. https://doi.org/10.17583/rimcis.2016.2118 Puigvert, L., Gelsthorpe, L., Soler-Gallart, M., & Flecha, R. (2019). Girls’ perceptions of boys with violent attitudes and behaviours, and of sexual attraction. Palgrave Communications, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-019-0262-5 Racionero-Plaza, S., Ugalde-Lujambio, L., Puigvert, L., & Aiello, E. (2018). Reconstruction of autobiographical memories of violent sexual-affective relationships through scientific reading on love: A psycho-educational intervention to prevent gender violence. Frontiers in Psychology, 9(OCT). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01996 Racionero-Plaza, S., Ugalde, L., Merodio, G., & Gutiérrez-Fernández, N. (2020). “Architects of Their Own Brain.” Social Impact of an Intervention Study for the Prevention of Gender-Based Violence in Adolescence. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 3070. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03070 Rios-González, O., Peña Axt, J. C., Duque Sánchez, E., & De Botton Fernández, L. (2018). The Language of Ethics and Double Standards in the Affective and Sexual Socialization of Youth. Communicative Acts in the Family Environment as Protective or Risk Factors of Intimate Partner Violence. Frontiers in Sociology, 3. https://doi.org/10.3389/fsoc.2018.00019 Ruiz-Eugenio, L., Racionero-Plaza, S., Duque, E., & Puigvert, L. (2020). Female university students’ preferences for different types of sexual relationships: implications for gender-based violence prevention programs and policies. BMC Women’s Health, 20(1), 266. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-020-01131-1 Soler, M., & Gómez, A. (2020). A Citizen’s Claim: Science With and for Society. Qualitative Inquiry, 26(8–9), 943–947. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077800420938104
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