Raychelle Cassada Lohmann Ph.D., LPCS

Teen Angst

Women and Violence: Society's Double Standard

Are we teaching young females stereotyped behavior?

Posted Jul 29, 2014

Unfortunately societal expectations and stereotypes play a large role in our impressions of how people should act… and violence is no different. When women commit violent acts they are not displaying “typical behavior” because girls are made of "all things that are nice."  As a society it's time to break down the walls of stereotypes and stop setting double standards. It is past time that we realize that women can be violent and have anger issues too and often that anger can lead them to prison. 

Sadly, more and more women who are in prison system come from abusive situations.  Many women who are serving time have reported being physically, sexually and verbally abused in their life. As a result many turn to substances as a form of self-medication to cope with the psychological trauma they have experienced. The increase of women being placed in prisons may in part be attributed to growing poverty among young, unattached mothers and the ways in which society treats women. So, in essence, many of these women are lashing out violently against their past.          

As for equality, we know from research that women typically get lesser charges for the same crimes that men commit. And when women finish their prison terms, they may find themselves right back in jail; for there is a high recidivism rate amongst women. Sadly, not only are we seeing an increase in violent activity in women, but violent acts committed by female juvenile offenders are on the rise as well. 

In the UK  the domestic violence charity ManKind is working hard to explore the differences between the way men and women victims of domestic violence are treated with their #ViolenceIsViolence campaign. They released an eye opening video showing a couple in an argument and how bystanders responded to a male aggressor versus a female aggressor. And to bring it home to the US, what about singer Beyoncé Knowles’ sister Solange, who attacked her brother-in-law, Jay Z? Would things have been reported differently if Jay Z had initiated the attack? I would venture to say "yes".  Sadly, women’s violence seems to be trivialized, excused, and may even be seen as humorous, but violence is no laughing matter. 

Aggression is hostile behavior and it's not a way to work through conflict. Aggression feeds agitation, which turns into frustration and can eventually lead to anger. Anger, spewed out through aggression, is an unhealthy coping skill that can have detrimental effects on relationships and even one's physical health. So, it's time to take off the blinders and put the double standards aside. Women and men can both experience violent episodes and both should be accountable for their behavior.