When approaching the feminists’ theories and dissecting the issue of male violence against women, it is crucial to understand that Sociologists who study feminism, have different explanations. Sociologists come from different schools of thought, which is why it is normal for every sociologist to perceive the social aspects of society very differently.

Therefore, the problem is still a continuous problem which affects many individuals and households around the world today. Many different theories and approaches haven been presented, and the problem can be seen from many angles. Therefore, men’s violence against women remains a major problem in society. Sociologists and feminists have divided the theories into different categories. However, all of them are interrelated with each other, and from now, it would not be appropriate to divide the different theories into different categories.

In this essay, I have chosen to discuss and to dissect the most important feminist theories regarding men’s violence against women in order to understand, dissect and to explore the different sociological and feminist theories of men’s violence against women.

Battered women syndrome

One of the most important theories of all the individual approaches, is the theory of the battered woman syndrome. It is a theory which feminists have presented to women in order for them to understand their situation of why they are willing to stay with their abusive husbands. In this theory, Lenore Walker is explaining that the man is exercising a peculiar power, where the man practises physical violence and sexual coercion against his wife, in order to make her feel weak and helpless without him. In these situations, the woman will develop a sort of Stockholm syndrome, where she will feel obliged to be with him and and she will feel hopeless without him. People who find themselves in an abusive relationship,often, do not feel safe or happy. Yet, they feel unable to leave for many reasons. Some of the reasons are fear and assumptions that they are the cause of the abuse and that they deserve to be beaten.

In these types of relationships, the husband begins to create and organize his own rules. At the same, manipulation is taking place. The manipulations can vary, and it can be any kind of manipulation. Some examples are that the husband may threaten his wife with isolation, that he will lock her in if she does not follow his rules, or threaten to beat her if she does not do what he wants. One of the biggest reasons why men can behave in this particular way may be due to a strong jealousy. The man begins by observing his wife and suspecting her. He may want to know who she is talking to, who she is friends with, who her friends are at work, her contact list etc. The other side of the coin of this theory is that the husband can turn the jealousy against himself by threatening to kill himself if she leaves or he may threaten to end the relationship if she does not move in with him in the same apartment or house.[1]

Woman-Blaming explanations

According to the perpetrator, there are times where woman deserves to be abused and chastised when he is relying on his assumptions. This theory can be associated with specific cultural attitudes, where the man is entitled the domestic and social arrangements. In this circumstance, the man believes that he can punish the woman, if she does not follow certain cultural principles. This type of theory is very much associated with honor violence. (Hotaling and Sugarman, 1986)

Here in the West, there are harsh punishments for honor violence and honor killings. The perpetrator will do everything to silence the victim by threatening and intimidating her if she intends to report him to the police. So, the culture of silence becomes a strong safety net for the perpetrator. If the perpetrator fails to silence the victim, he will do everything so that no one listens to her. In cultures where the man dominates, even the parents of the woman can deny her complaint and accept the version of the perpetrator. In many cases, the man can beat, rape and even murder the woman, and the family of the woman may have thought that this choice the perpetrator made was right. And all these choices can be because they follow cultural and traditional norms in a patriarchal society.. (Herman 1998, P 8).

In India and Bangladesh, honor violence is a very big social problem which affects the whole community. The problem is that honor violence is not taken seriously in those communities. Women have been raped and even murdered afterwards because of the men in those societies take advantage of their own authority in a very negative way where they believe they have every right in the world to blame the woman if she does not obey the man or share the same views as him. The culture of silence also exists in those communities where women lack their rights. This theory will also remain as one of the most complicated social theories when cultural, economic and social aspects are involved. [2]

Male Pathology

This theory is often focused on the “deviant” behavior of men who are psychologically disturbed. When this theory is discussed, sociologists and feminists usually focus on the childhood of the perpetrator. The sociologists and feminists compare normal perpetrators who have no psychological problems nor have they had a bad childhood with perpetrators who are mentally ill and who have had a dysfunctional childhood. Sociologists and feminists try to understand the causes of the perpetrator’s behavior from his childhood and why he has these mental problems that have led to his violent acts. Perpetrators in this theory are not only prone to attack their family, but they are also prone to attack strangers and even friends. (Dutton, 2005)

These dysfunctional backgrounds are different. It is possible that the perpetrator has gone through physical, psychological and sexual abuse that has led to his behavior. These difficulties during his childhood may also have led him to live in a heavy loneliness and social deprivation. (Dutton, 2005)

Sexual desires can also be suppressed, because the perpetrator fails to get a girlfriend due to his “deviant” behavior, loneliness and self-esteem that prevents him from approaching women. (Dutton, 2005)

There is a consensus among the researchers of this theory, and the consensus is that the researchers have reached a common conclusion that the majority of men who have mental health problems are not violent. But the individual who has a tendency to be violent and special towards his wife, also has a tendency to be violent towards other family members and even neighbors. (Dutton 2000) [3]

Sexual perversion

Sexual perversion is a theory that is a very sensitive theory to discuss. According to the theory of Patricia Yancey Martin and Robert. A Hummer, the rape occurs after dates, parties and social occasions. The rapes may be far from the public attention, and these rapes among young people are most often found in fraternity houses or university campuses. 50 cases of rapes and gang rapes were presented in their theory, and they presented the reasons and why these young people committed these acts. They identified causes such as excessive alcohol consumption and the mental competition to get as many girls as possible. Pornography is also an industry that has disturbed men’s perception of women. [4]

The sexual perversion can also be directed against daughters and young girls. In fact, it is very difficult to explain why the majorities of these incest perpetrators are uncles, older brothers, stepfathers and fathers and at the same time, it is very difficult to explain why the victims are nieces, younger sisters and daughters. The most commonly reported incest is father and daughter incest. This form of incest is the largest representation of incest. When such acts are carried out, it indicates that a very dysfunctional relationship exists between the family members of the household and especially between the father and the daughter. These crimes occur when the women of a household are so weak that they do not have the right or the strength to defend themselves. While this can provide sexual satisfaction for the disturbed perpetrator and also the victim, these actions will lead to very destructive consequences for the victim. This theory can also be linked to the theory of male pathology, where the perpetrator may have had a very painful childhood. It does not always have to be that the perpetrator may have had a painful childhood. The sexual perversion may also have developed during his teens or even adulthood. [5]


There is a vast range of possible theories available, not only from the social sciences, but also from the biological sciences. Some theories have attempted to explain the violence of men in terms of biology, innate physical properties and psychological anger. Of course, from this perspective, this biological approach will be associated with patriarchy, power, historical and cultural relativism. For writers such as Brown miller (1975) and Dworkin (1979), men’s violence against women in the form of rape lies at the very heart and the core of patriarchy and its reproduction. These arguments are the subjects of great debates. Especially among radical feminists, who are more than ready to discuss this theory. [6]

There is also another interesting theory of patriarchy, where it is said that the part of the tradition of the family-home is that the husband must have an absolute role and that he is the absolute ruler of the household. Even when he helps his wife with the dishes, then, that is not considered an act of being equal to the wife, but rather, it means that the man is giving away a portion of his generosity as a gift. The traditional values are otherwise requiring him to use his masculinity and his physical force to maintain the role of being the absolute ruler of the household. [7]

Sexual Jealousy

Sexual jealousy is far from a trivial emotion, because of the range of the different consequences it produces, and many of which are known to be destructive and violent, especially against women. This type of a theory argues that sexual jealousy can lead to cutting off a partner’s relationships with friends and family, which over time can reduce the self-esteem of the woman, and anxiety and fear begin to rise between the two partners.

The researchers who presented this theory, believe that this is the biggest and the leading cause of spousal battering and intimate partner violence. The violence of the Intimate partner can range from minor slaps to brutal beatings. It has also happened that the man has become so jealous that he suspects that his own wife has been unfaithful and that she has become pregnant by another man and not by him. This degree of jealousy has led to incidents where the pregnant woman has been hit and kicked, which has led to the murder of the woman and the infant. (Buss and Duntley, 2011).

The Researchers of this theory also argue that Jealousy is the leading cause of the murder of mates, ex-mates, wives, ex-wives and ex-girlfriends. There are too many reasons of why men tend to be murderous and especially when the aggression is linked with the sexual jealousy they possess.

In every case of sexual jealousy, it becomes not only dangerous for the woman, but also for the friends of the woman whom she usually hangs out with. This is why many researchers support this theory, that jealousy is the leading psychological reason why a man starts to become violent towards the woman. Sexual jealousy is a complicated psychological problem with dangerous consequences. [8]


Misogyny is the widest theory of them all, because of the fact that it has been discussed from the time of Plato until now. Another fact of why Misogyny is a wide theory, is because it is interlinked with other terms, such as sexism and racism. Misogyny is often discussed by social psychologists,and it is a theory that explains men’s hatred of women.

Many Social psychologists argue that many men do not even know that they are misogynists. It is a form of hatred that is very much hidden in the subconscious. Many men are unwilling to understand that they have a hatred for women. The reasons are many, but it can also be linked to things that have happened in the past where a trauma is involved within the psyche of the man. It may have been about a woman in his past who had betrayed him or been unfaithful to him. It may also be due to a violent childhood where the mother or sister has been violent towards him.

It is also argued that misogyny can be hidden in a man and that reality can come out when this man tries to deceive and attract the woman with a charismatic, flirtatious and exciting personality. Meanwhile he develops a Jekyll and Hyde personality, he can easily change himself from being the kindest person to being the meanest man on earth, and vice versa. The hatred can be very hidden until the man begins to use violence against the woman. The hatred of women can be expressed in various circumstances, whether they are secret or public assaults. [9]


The theories regarding men’s violence against women will be different and many, because the perceptions of the sociologists and their experiences are many. We all live in different environments and cultures in this world, and this in itself will cause each and every one of us to have a different worldview.

The theories have been discussed until today, and no stable conclusion has been reached about which theory is the strongest. But one thing is certain, and that is that all theories are more or less interconnected, and therefore one cannot say that one is better than the other. Each theory has its cultural, psychological, economic and social background.

Growing movements such as Metoo have emerged to tackle these problems. Social media are also powerful tools that have highlighted the issue.

That said, it is up to everyone to study the problem and study the reasons why there is a violent structure and activity against women.

| Amir Zabidi


  • Lenore Walker, (2017), The Battered Woman syndrome, 4th edition, New York, Springer Publishing Company
  • Emerson Dobash and Russell P.Dobash , 1979, Violence against Wives, New York, The free press,(1992), (Women violence and social change), London, Routledge
  • Pauline B. Bart and Eileen Geil Moran, Violence against Women, London, United Kingdom, SAGE Publications
  • Barbara Fawcett, Brid Featherstone, Jeff Hearn and Christine Toft, 1996, Violence and Gender, London, SAGE Publications

Further reading

[1] Lenore Walker, (2017), The Battered Woman syndrome, 4th edition, New York, Springer Publishing Company, page 70-72

[2] R. Emerson Dobash and Russell P.Dobash , 1979, Violence against Wives, New York, The free press, page 124-125

(1992), (Women violence and social change), London, Routledge, Page 9-10.


[4] Pauline B. Bart and Eileen Geil Moran, Violence against Women, London, United Kingdom, SAGE Publications, Page 114-115

[5] [5] Pauline B. Bart and Eileen Geil Moran, Violence against Women, London, United Kingdom, SAGE Publications, Page 47-45

[6] Barbara Fawcett, Brid Featherstone, Jeff Hearn and Christine Toft, 1996, Violence and Gender, London, SAGE Publications page 31

[7] Barbara Fawcett, Brid Featherstone, Jeff Hearn and Christine Toft, 1996, Violence and Gender, London, SAGE Publications page 32-33

[8] file:///C:/Users/16075749/Downloads/1_Buss_Sexual_Jealousy_PT_22_2_2013.PDF



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