DeKeseredy, W.S. and M.D. Schwartz. 2013. Male Peer Support and Violence against Women.

DeKeseredy, Walter S. and Martin D. Schwartz. 2013. Male Peer Support and Violence against Women: The History and Verification of a Theory. Boston: Northeastern University Press.


  • Term of “male peer support” developed by Dekeseredy (1988a) to describe “the attachments to male peers and the resources that these men provide that encourage and legitimate woman abuse” (xiv).
  • Schwartz and DeKeseredy later generated a modified peer support theory **** (DeKeseredy and Schwartz 1993)
  • How research data is collected and interpreted shape quality/quantity of services available to victimized women (DeKeseredy and Schwartz 2011)
  • Bowker (1983), on all-male subcultures of violence: “This is not a subculture that is confined to a single class, religion, occupational grouping, or race. It is spread throughout all arts of society. Men are socialized by other subcultural members to accept common definitions of the situation, norms, values, and beliefs about male dominance and the necessity of keeping their wives in line.  These violence-supporting social relations may occur at any time and in any place (135-136, here xiv)  – here, specifically discusses intramarital physical abuse (‘wife-beating’), but can extend across many domains of violence.


Chapter One

  • Violence as a “spectrum” (though non-hierarchical, all are forms of abuse), ranging from obscene phone class to physical abuse (Kelly 1988)
  • North American researchers/policy makers/media figures/general public only focus on selective and narrow instances of violence against women – physical abuse resulting visible injuries/harm, or penetrative sexual assaults —- this narrow definition obscures broadness of violence, and diminishes opportunities to address these other existing forms – trivialized and even labeled “soft-core abuse” (Fox 1993), or even ignore forms of abuse as symptoms leading up to more “severe” forms of abuse.
    • Dobash and Dobash (1998): “A more ‘narrow’ or circumscribed definition of violence, with each type examined in its own right and statistics gathered accordingly, may sometimes have the advantage of increasing clarity about the nature and context of a specific form of violence, but may simultaneously lose the prospect of generalizing across a much wider spectrum of violence” (4, here 6).
  • Definitional issues may result in low response rates that do not reflect realities, and may have larger institutional/programmatic impacts, and pose issues for social support for survivors.
  • Psychological abuse can be just as/more so injurious as physical violence (Adams, Sullivan, Bybee and Greeson 2008; DeKeseredy 2011a) —- many women report that psychological, verbal, and spiritual abuse hurts the most and lasts the longest (Renzetti 2008) —- same goes for non-penetrative sexual assault, or sex while drunk/high (unable to give consent.


Chapter Two

  • Women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than all other types of perpetrators combined (Basile and Black 2011)
  • Non-reporting may source from motives of not wanting to revisit trauma, or from fear of retribution from perpetrator — others (interestingly) because they didn’t consider their physical/psychological assaults as too trivial to report (Smith 1994; Straus, Gelles, and Steinmetz 1981).
  • Although international/demographic trends in victimization/perpetration exist, “there are few forms of violence that belong exclusively to any particular culture” (Fontes and McCloskey 2011: 152, here 33).
  • Approximately 25% of female undergraduate students experience some type of sexual violence on an annual basis (DeKeseredy and Flack 2007).
  • Despite institutional fear of “allegations” boogeymen, less than 2% of campus rapes reported to the police are false allegations (DeKeseredy 2011a).
  • One in five women — nearly 22 million US female residents — report being raped in her lifetime; close to one in two women (44.6%) report experiencing sexual violence other than rape during some time during their life (Black et al 2011).
  • Key factor in victimization is drug and alcohol consumption by women, especially in proximity to young men (Johnson and Dawson 2011)
  • “Inside men’s groups, alcohol is commonly used in contexts that support patriarchal conversations about women’s sexuality and how to control it (DeKeseredy, Alvi, and Schwartz 2006; Hey 1986; Schwartz and DeKeseredy 1997)” (36).
  • Women are more likely to be assaulted by an intimate partner/acquaintance than stranger (Fisher, Daigle, and Cullen 2010; Wykes and Welsh 2009).
  • Men are more likely to sexually assault current/former intimate partners when:
    • they frequently consume pornographic material (DeKeseredy and Olsson 2011)
    • have patriarchal peers support (DeKeseredy and Schwartz 2009; Maier and Bergen 2012; Schwartz and DeKeseredy 1997)
    • abuse alcohol and drugs (Basile and Black 2011)
  • Sexual assault survivors are still routinely blamed/stigmatized (Johnson and Dawson 2011)
  • Lack of reporting in SA prevents significant number of women from attaining services/help that may be needed (Campbell and Townsend 2011).
  • Psychological abuse may go undocumented/unaddressed due to prioritizing/social focus on physical/sexual abuse (Nash Chang 1996; Stark 2007)


Chapter Three

Social Support Theory

  • Men, when “natural right” to domination is threatened/challenged, experience psychological distress — often turning to other men for guidance/support (DeKeseredy 1988a)
    • “The advice that they are likely to give a young man in conflict over what he sees as a challenge to his patriarchal rights in many groups will encourage and legitimate the physical, psychological, and sexual abuse of women” (49) – or, even when men regret/acknowledge the abuse, other men may attempt to convince him that he did no wrong.
  • Criticized for being highly individualistic in behavior, too psych-soc-psych

The Modified Male Peer Support Model

  • “A substantial number of male actions, values, and beliefs […] are micro-social expressions of broader patriarchal forces” (54).
  • Patriarchy as two-fold: (1) “a hierarchical organization of social institutions and social relationships that [allow] men to maintain positions of power, privilege, and leadership in society” (54); and, (2) an ideology that rationalizes itself by “[providing] a means of creating acceptance of subordination not only by those who benefit from such actions, but even by those who are placed in such subordinate positions by society” (54) — existing symbiotically on individual, group, and institutional levels.
  • Male homosocial groups provide members (particularly sexually aggressive ones) with a ‘vocabulary of adjustment’ to maintain self-conception as normal, decent, respected men (Kanin 1967b).
  • Bergen (2012): foundations of MPS for VAW “rests on the normalization and acceptance of gender inequality and the recognition that ‘real’ men are superior to women and naturally have authority over them” (332, here 56).
  • Alcohol use as common within many men’s social groups, such as fraternities (Bogle 2008) – here, consumed socially with peers to “explain away, rationalize, and excuse embarrassing, unsightly, and even violent behavior” (59, see also Vander Ven 2011).
  • An “absence of deterrence” (61) – “whether a lack of punishment or the absence of negative consequences is partially responsible for the amount of the violence against women today” (61) — considerable evidence for lack of consequences even in cases of severe/obvious gang rape by young men (DeKeseredy and Flack 2007)
  • Schwartz and Leggett (1999): 25% of women in sample, as they had been raped with too intoxicated by drugs/alcohol to resist, took 100% of the blame for the rape.
  • Even powerful legal figures perpetuate victim-blaming – Woliver (1993) – judge responded to gang rape at a school by attributing it to a natural relation to the victim’s provocative clothing
  • Heightened by homosocial groups sounding board for narrow definitions of masculinity/rampant homophobia, as well as perceived group secrecy (Schwartz and DeKeseredy 1997; Sanday 1990) – protection from investigation, but also reinforces the notion that violence is tolerated, if not outrightly supported.
  • Limitations: model lacks predictive power, does not explain how groups form (assumes they are already in place).


Chapter Four

  • Peer delinquency has correlation to one’s criminal behavior (McGloin 2009; Young, Barnes, Meldrum and Weerman 2011)
  • “the experience of violent intrusion – or the threat of such intrusion – is a common threat in the fabric of women’s everyday lives” (Renzetti 1995: 3, here 73).
  • Variations across demographics, but stability in pattern offered through “male proprietariness” (DeKeseredy, Rogness, and Schwartz 2004; DeKeseredy and Schwartz 1998a; Smith 1990) – “the tendency [of men] to think of women as sexual and reproductive ‘property’ they can own and exchange […] “not just the emotional force of [the male’s] own feelings of entitlement but to a more pervasive attitude [of ownership and control] toward social relationships [with intimate female partners]” (Wilson and Daly 1992: 85).
  • Most women in abusive relationships/nonviolent relationships marked by patriarchal dominance are not passive, but do resist/eventually resist through arguing, fighting back, protesting, leaving problematic relationships (DeKeseredy and Schwartz 2009; Sev’er 2002).
  • “In short, patriarchal male peer support contributes to the perception of damaged masculinity and motivates sexually abusive men to ‘lash out against the women … they can no longer control’ (Bourgois 1995: 214).
  • Contexts of drinking (bars, pubs) are frequently homosocial and are places of masculine enactment (Campbell 2006)
  • *** Theorization of why continue patriarchal actions within “enlightened new masculine contexts” — exclusion from labor markets, thus traditional sites of masculine identity (Brotherton 2008) – economically and socially excluded young men experiences ‘status frustration’ which contributes to joining other men to create violent patriarchal subculture (Cohen 1955; DeKeseredy and Schwartz 2005; Messerschmidt 1993) – however – this does not explain why relatively upper-middle class participants at festivals (as compared to lower-class men who may not have access to events) perpetrate these acts.

Chapter Five

  • Kanin (1967b) – men are socialized throughout youth/life to see women as sexual objects and means to their personal ends – thus, when they arrive to college, they do not adopt new training/groups that teach this aggression, but selectively seek and maintain relationships with other men who support these beliefs/actions – stressing the value (not necessarily verbally, but always explicitly) of sexual acts/aspirations. As men invariably fall short in living up to these expectations, they may turn toward predatory behaviors to seek these validating experiences.
  • Men who have abusive friends are more likely to participate in psychological and sexual abuse (DeKeseredy 1988b; DeKeseredy and Kelly 1995).
    • Spending a lot of time with male friends increases probability of perpetrating sexual violence (Ageton1983)
    • This magnifies with alcohol consumption and where patriarchal discourses/practices are the norm (Schwartz et al 2001)
    • Larger, looser, mixed-sex groups tend to commit fewer acts of delinquency overall – where men were also less likely to be violent toward their female [in-group?] peers (Casey and Beadnell 2010).
  • “Degradation ceremony” of Goffman (1961) applicable to Sanday (1990)’s study of fraternity gang rape – enlisting male peers in sexual assaults [formalizing, ritualizing the assault/dehumanization?]
  • Institutional/political resistance against the Violence Against Women Act (passed in 1994, reauthorized in 2000, 2005) to grant increased law enforcement, arrests, national DV hotlines, funding to women’s shelters, and special outreach to rural DV and child abuse actions – attempt to include native americans, undocumented immigrants, GLBT victims in 2012 reauthorization, but has been heavily contested — (UPDATE?!)
  • Basile et al (2009) – male bullies learn to accept violent behavior (including SV) from social/group relations with other male peers.
  • “…public places, in many communities, regardless of their socioeconomic makeup, are ‘male spaces’ (112, see also Miller 2008; Renzetti 2011)
    • “Contrary to the belief of many, public space is not ‘democratic,’ but clearly gendered: women’s social behavior in public places is closely regulated” (112, see also Renzetti 2011).
    • On street/harassment: “Such behavior is learned, exhibited by men, and mainly done by men in groups. It seems obvious that such behavior is subject to the approval of the entire group, and that men who engaged in it achieve some sort of approval or benefit from it” (112).


*** Methods interjection –

“data triangulation” – termed from Denzin (1978)

  • “The combination of multiple methodological practices, empirical materials, perspectives, and observers in a single study is best understood, then, as a strategy that adds, rigor, breadth, complexity, richness, and depth to any inquiry” (Denzin and Lincoln 2005: 5, here 117).


Chapter Six

  • See Nikunen, Paasonen and Saarenmaa (2007) for more information on the ‘pornification’ of young adult women (upon turning 18).
  • Popular media representations of men and women have become increasingly sexualized, but images of women are more likely to be ‘hypersexualized’ – as well as “a narrowing of the culturally acceptable ways for women to ‘do’ femininity in mainstream popular culture” (quote here 120, see also Hatton and Trauntner 2011).
  • The factors that cause a man to abuse women may also be the ones that belie internet pornography consumption – as woman abuse certainly preceded the onset of internet pornography – eliminating porn will likely not decrease perpetration, as men abuse women anyway (DeKeseredy and Schwartz 1998a)
  • “the problem is not the sexually graphic images at all, but the images of violence [Schwartz 1989] […] mutually respectful sexual imagery, termed erotica, is not a problem. Rather, it is pornography, or the introduction and integration of violent imagery with sexually graphic scenes that is this problem” (126-127)
    • “… pornography does not cause rape but rather helps make rape inviting” (Jensen 2007: 103, here 127)
  • Dines (2010): “Given the increasing prevalence of hooking up in the culture, especially on college campuses, these men’s perceptions that other guys seem to have no problem finding sex is not completely inaccurate. Where they seem to lose touch with reality is in the degree to which they assume this is the norm.  In the porn world of never-ending sex, every interaction with a woman – be it a student, a doctor, a maid, a teacher, or just a stranger – ends up sexualized. Add to this the stories that men regale each other about their latest conquest, stories that often sound like the porn movie they just watched, and you have constructed a world of constant male access to every woman a man meets.  When the real world doesn’t play out like this, then disappointment and anger make sense” (89, here 128) – assisting them in soliciting victims and thwarting resistance.
  • Technological systems as socially-produced and culturally-informed – in state of consistent flux to meet external/internal (socio)economic demands. Internet culture as collective construction built to transcend individuals, but also influences on-ground interpretations/practices (Castells 2001)


Chapter Seven

  • Rapes are more frequently accomplished by coercion than by force (Grasgreen 2012)
  • Possible resources:
    • Facebook/Twitter (social media campaigns)
    • White Ribbon Campaign (WRC)
    • A Call to Men (ACTM – 2004) *** take look at recommendations list!
    • Note that DV/SV aren’t just women’s issues: Katz (2006) – “Everything that happens to women happens to men, too” (18, here 142)
    • Empathy-based strategies such as Walk a Mie in Her Shoes – but watch for problematic performances of drag
    • Anti-violence, pro-equality youth socialization/education
    • Green Dot Violence Prevention Strategy (developed by Dorothy Edwards)
    • Education on consent, risky pre-perpetration situations, changing (campus) climates to encourage use of bystander intervention strategies (Banyard and Moynihan 2011)
    • Open fields where men may act as allies, and do their own work to unpack hegemonic masculinity by reducing isolation, seeking social/emotional support
    • Eliminate mass-produced artifacts promoting VAW – see Schwartz and DeKeseredy (1997, 75-76) for a discussion where “common artifacts that allow the representation of violent sexual and physical attacks on women because they are presented in the context of humor” (here 144 – ESRR t-shirt case-in-point)
      • “The normalization of misogyny is so commonplace, it’s almost mundane [….] The objectification and dehumanization of women is such an inescapable part of popular culture that it necessarily play a part in the daily interactions of men and women (O’Hagan 2011:1-2) — respond with boycotting businesses, media that sell these wares, backed by social media protests.


  • Why don’t “well-meaning men” get involved? (Porter 2006a) – the ones who do not assault, believe in equality, women’s rights, honors women, and is generally decent…
    • They’re seldom asked to contribute in anti-patriarchal advocacy
    • Reluctant to participate in anti-violence efforts (Wantland 2008)
    • Believe themselves as not adding to problem — however, their silence supports and condones abuse (Bunch 2006)
  • Woman abuse is frequently an overlapping function of race/class inequality –as well as obvious gender inequalities.
  • “Being allies with women is as much about ‘liberating men from the constraints of masculinity’ as it is about helping to save women’s lives and supporting their inherent right to live in peace” (149, see also Funk 2006:207).




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