Changing the cultural narrative

I am incredibly pleased to make the following announcement. A recent domestic violence study, focusing on reporting trends, was conducted by a group of scholars in Trinidad and Tobago.

Their conclusion was that men tend to vastly underreport being victims of domestic violence. They identified the root cause with one word. Gynocentrism.

I had the distinct pleasure to see my name attached to this conclusion in the references for how gynocentrism is defined. They used my speech on the subject at the International Conference on Men’s Issues, London, 2016 as the source. Even better, the authors of the study agreed with my assessment of the issues and said so in unambiguous terms in the summary.

To wit:

Traditionally, Trinidad and Tobago’s society is patriarchal in its ontology, however, there is a tendency on the island towards gynocentrism or the inclination to place the needs, wants, and desires of women ahead of all others (Elam, 2016).

This non-reporting of spousal violence by males in the study can also be attributed to the effect of gynocentrism which creates a cultural default on the micro and macro level where women’s DV victimization reporting is a call to action and a man’s DV victimization reporting is seen as taboo (Elam, 2016). In the context of Trinidad and Tobago, the authors of this article submit that gynocentrism pervades all aspects of the CJS as well as society, hence the apprehension by men in the study to report their DV victimization to the police. For male respondents, the main barrier to non-reporting DV victimization to the police was embarrassment/shame (17%).

Justice Policy Journal  Volume 16, Number 1 (Spring, 2019)

Naturally, to see this lifted my spirits in relation to the work I’ve done over the years, but the important thing, the very important thing, is that gynocentrism has made its way into the lexicon of domestic violence research. This is unprecedented as far as I know, and it represents a critical shift in the thinking about the subject.

That’s why we focus our work here on the narrative, folks. As feminists have been demonstrating to us for half a century, when you change the language, you change the thinking. And friends, we are starting to change the language.

Read the entire study here.

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