Sexism linked to sexual offences

Inequality, power and sexist attitudes were strongly linked to sex offences, research shows.

Bianca Fileborn, lecturer in criminology at University of NSW, said gender inequality was linked to higher levels of sexual assault and violence against women.

Dr Fileborn said attitudes towards rigid gender roles were factors in this type of crime.

Individual attitudes towards sexual relationships also play a role.

Dr Fileborn gave the example of men considering sex to be “a competition or aggressive point-scoring thing, rather than a consensual interaction between two willing people”.

Another example was the idea that “women are asking for it, if they’re dressed a certain way, or if they’ve consumed alcohol”.

Community and social attitudes that “excuse or normalise different forms of sexual offending” were considered a factor in the high number of sex crimes.

The Newcastle Herald reported last week that 1246 sexual offences occurred in the Hunter last year.

Three-quarters of the victims were children or juveniles.

Antonia Quadara, the sexual violence program manager for the Australian Institute of Family Studies, said there were double standards between males and females when it came to sex.

She said an example of this was the idea that “nice girls don’t”.

Sexual assaults were linked to vulnerability and power imbalances, she said.

The idea that “girls play hard to get” was problematic.

It fed the mindset that a female saying no to sex was some kind of game. 

While research showed some men use pressure and coercion in sex, many males do not.

More understanding about why males don’t commit such acts could help educate others. 

Dr Quadara said males need to be given permission to explore the “different ways of being a bloke”.

She said it was important to understand the challenges that men face in “expressing and performing masculinity in a culture where men are sometimes punished for not being blokey enough”.