In control, out of control, or losing control? Making sense of men’s reported experiences of coercive control through the lens of hegemonic masculinity.
Professor Sandra Walklate1
1Monash University, Clayton, Australia
‘I have never had a case that involved a female perpetrator of coercive control, and no such cases are documented in the literature’ (Stark 2007: 377). Stark’s observation has become somewhat of a ‘truism’ in the wider debate surround coercive control. Yet simultaneously coercive control is asserted as a gendered process, understandings of which appear to have elided and conflated victimhood and perpetration with femininity and masculinity. Such elisions and conflations have undoubtedly fuelled the growth of men’s organisations and their vociferous presence within the policy debates generated by coercive control. The purpose of this paper, based on empirical data, is to try to unpick some of these elisions and conflations and offer a more nuanced understanding of them using the lens of hegemonic masculinity. The data on which this paper is based derives from an online survey conducted by the Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre concerned to explore people’s experiences of and attitudes towards the criminalisation of coercive control. The survey was completed by 1392 people, 228 (16.5 %) identified as male. These 228 responses provide some insight in how these men defined and understood what they considered to be their experiences of coercive control and provide an opportunity to offer a more nuanced appreciation of these men’s experiences of being in control, out of control, or losing control.
Professor Sandra Walklate is Eleanor Rathbone Chair of Sociology at the University of Liverpool (UK) conjoint Professor of Criminology, Monash (Australia) and currently President of the British Society of Criminology. She is the PI on the ESRC funded project Domestic Abuse: Responding to the Shadow Pandemic (ES/V00476X/1) and her recent publications include The Emerald Handbook of Feminism, Criminology and Social Change (2020) co-edited with Kate Fitz-Gibbon, JaneMaree Maher and Jude McCulloch. She is a CI on the project reported in this paper.