19/10/2021

What's wrong with young people and gender violence?

2 min
Male violence against youth

Save the Children has warned of the normalisation of abusive behaviour in terms of gender violence among teenagers and young people, especially on social networks, but not only. What is happening? The generation gap in this case would imply a step backwards. In this field, the advances in awareness-raising, surely too slow but apparently sustained, have marked the last decades. In this time, female empowerment in the face of sexist behaviours which were once fully accepted has made its way into people's minds and into public opinion. In fact, in a short time there has been an acceleration in demands, especially since the global MeToo movement. But, apparently, there is another side to it: this discourse of women's liberation and of cornering both explicit and more subliminal sexism seems to be receding among young people. In Spain as a whole, one young man in five denies the existence of gender violence, and one in three believes, for example, that it is "inevitable or acceptable" to control their partner's schedule, prevent them from contacting family or friends or tell them what they can and cannot do. Surveys have no absolute value, but they do indicate trends. In this case, a rather worrying trend, since we are not talking about a certain relativism, but about denying the root cause. In other words, we would be facing a clear involution, a kind of counter-reform in the mentality of the young.

The issue certainly calls for attention and in-depth studies. It is not a question of blaming young people in general, far from it. On the contrary, it is about seeing what is behind these opinions, if they are a way of going against what is now politically correct, if they are the result of disinformation, if there is a factor of unconscious frivolity or if, on the contrary, they respond to the influence of the discourse of the far right. Be that as it may, it is not an issue that can be minimised. It is essential that families, the educational world, the media and institutions address this worrying reflux, and that they do not do so with facile paternalism. Of course: it is not easy to get into the reality of teenagers and young people, but it is essential to find an approach, start a dialogue. And surely one option is to seek it in their own environment, which is largely social networks, where precisely, as NGO Save the Children points out, is where more situations of this kind occur: only a third of young people aged 15 to 29 identify as violence practices of digital submission

Sexist patterns and roles survive. And with them, so does sexism. In the same way that democracy is built and defended day by day, equality between women and men must also be built and defended; moreover, in historical terms, the change is still very recent and, therefore, the danger of regression is greater. Preventing these attitudes among some young people from shaping the worldview of future adults is an essential task.

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