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Johansson, Anna (2008) – Entry-points to Men’s Involvement to Prevent Men’s Violence against Women in Intimate Relationships in Costa Rica

Abstract

The research aims to find entry-points to men’s involvement to prevent men’s violence against women in intimate relationships in Costa Rica. The importance of this research is reflected in the high extend of this specific violence where two to three women per month are killed in Costa Rica. Not much research has been done on the issue from the men’s perspective.

There is a need to do critical studies on men. The violence will not end if the issue is not made important for men them selves. I have chosen to do qualitative interviews with eight men in Costa Rica and to analyse them from a gender perspective.

To approach the subject in a pragmatic way and to get a comprehension of the processes within the field I have studied concepts like social construction of masculinities, gender equality, men’s violence against women and men’s involvement to prevent this violence. These concepts are also used in the interviews with the men. The entry-points that were found, point out important areas of interest in the aim to involve men to prevent violence against women.

The first entry-point has to do with the social construction of masculinities and power relations. Masculinities are socially constructed in a context where men internalize the power that is given to its gender class. Men maintain their manliness in a triangulation of violence where the violence against themselves and their masculinities is the fundament to the other two. In Costa Rica the prevailing stereotype of masculinity is called la machista. According to the NGO WËM men in general in Costa Rica has to deal with this stereotype, meaning a man with self control, power and strength. The eight interviewees all related to this concept in different ways. There is a need for men to create new masculinities.

The second entry-point treats what the eight men thought they would gain with gender equality that in prolongation is closely connected to masculinities. To involve men to prevent violence against women it is necessary that there are benefits for them selves. If men gain on gender equality and to not exercise violence, the issue will become interesting for men. The interviewees highlighted for instance respect from their families and self respect. WËM emphasized the benefits of higher life quality for men.

The third entry-point illuminates the importance of homo-social groups. The interviewees had all experiences from communication with other men and the sometimes immense pressure to keep up their manliness in homo-social groups. According to theory homo-social groups are forum for men to load their manliness and to get power over other men. Communication between men has impact and is used to sustain power over women and maintain the power relations. To work with homo-social groups tend to be very important to bring about a change.

The fourth entry-point stresses the importance of structural signals to men through for instance jurisdiction. Some of the men in the interviews pointed out the signals they get from society where the man is supposed to be the head of the family and to be the breadwinner. The new legislation that was approbated 2007 sanctions men’s violence against women in a more pragramatic way than before and gives clearer signals to both men and women about this specific violence.


Reference

Johansson, Anna. 2008. “Entry-points to Men’s Involvement to Prevent Men’s Violence against Women in Intimate Relationships in Costa Rica.” Master’s dissertation, Department of Social Work, University of Göteborg.

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