What’s Gendered about Gender-Based Violence? An Empirically Grounded Theoretical Exploration from Tanzania
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Violence is often considered gendered on the basis that it is violence against women. This assumption is evident both in “gender-based violence” interventions in Africa and in the argument that gender is irrelevant if violence is also perpetrated against men. This article examines the relation of partner violence not to biological sex, but to gender as conceptualized in feminist theory. It theorizes the role of gender as an analytical category in dominant social meanings of “wifebeating” in Tanzania by analyzing arguments for and against wife-beating expressed in 27 focus group discussions in the Arumeru and Kigoma-Vijijini districts. The normative ideal of a “good beating” emerges from these data as one that is supported by dominant social norms and cyclically intertwined with “doing gender.” The author shows how the good beating supports, and is in turn supported by, norms that hold people accountable to their sex category. These hegemonic gender norms prescribe the performance of masculinity and femininity, power relations of inequality, and concrete material exploitation of women’s agricultural and domestic labor. The study has implications for policy and practice in interventions against violence, and suggests untapped potential in theoretically informed feminist research for understanding local power relations in the Global South.
JournalGender & Society
CopyrightCopyright 2014 by The Author
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