The following excerpt is from an article in the September 1995 issue of the APA Monitor, the monthly publication of the American Psychological Association.
Girlfriends Are Fighting Back
While the stereotype has it that men inflict the bruises on women, new research shows that boys are not the only aggressors. Not only do some girls hit back; girls are the sole perpetrators in some cases.
Two psychologists, Kathryn Ellis, PhD, and Irene Frieze, PhD, have found that college women kick, push, bite and slap their male partners more often than vice versa. There have also been reports of some college women brandishing knives and guns.
In a study of more than 300 University of Pittsburgh college women in the early 1990s, Frieze found that women reported being significantly more violent towards their male partners than men reported being towards their female partners. Most women cited romantic jealousy as the reason for assaulting their boyfriends. In the same study, Frieze found that women did just as much damage as men during fits of anger.
Frieze speculates that women have become more aggressive because they think they can get away with it more easily than men.
'Men tend not to take [such physical violence] very seriously and women see it as an expression of independence,' said Frieze, a professor of psychology and women's studies at the University of Pittsburgh.
Contrary to many psychologists' belief that strong identification with the male role promotes violence, Frieze found that 'traditional men,' who hold conservative beliefs that men are providers and women are caretakers, were less likely to be violent and more likely to be benevolent and protective of women. Surprisingly, Frieze found that less traditional men, with more progressive views of women being leaders and having successful careers, were more likely to be violent with their more traditional counterparts, who see men as more capable and able-bodied than women.
School violence study on high school students.
The ratio at which girls and boys hit each other in adolescence is 20:1, with girls hitting boys twenty times more often .
- Based on a three-year observation (1989-92) of high school students by Elizabeth Brookins, chair of the Department of Mathematics, El Camino High School, Oceanside, California