According to findings from the National Community Attitudes Towards Violence Against Women Survey (NCAS) youth report released on May 22, almost one in seven young Australians believe a man would be justified in raping a woman if she initiated sex but changed her mind. On top of those results, one-quarter of young men think women find it flattering to be persistently pursued, even if they are uninterested.
The survey reveals that while many young people increasingly believe in equality in the workplace and leadership positions, they are less likely to recognise sexism, coercion or other problematic behaviours in their own relationships. Of the 1,761 people aged between 16 and 24 surveyed, 43% supported the statement: “I think it’s natural for a man to want to appear in control of his partner in front of his male friends.”
The survey, commissioned by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women and Safety (Anrows) and VicHealth, is conducted every four years. The latest analysis comes from data collected in 2017.
More than one in five young people believe that there is no harm in making sexist jokes about women when among their male friends, and young men are more than two times as likely than young women to agree with this statement. General attitudes towards women have improved, especially for women in leadership, but young men were more likely than young woman to say men make more capable bosses than women.
“A large proportion of young people support attitudes that deny gender inequality is a problem,” the report found. “Young men are substantially more likely to express these attitudes than young women across all questions in this theme.” 45% of young people believe that many women exaggerate gender inequality in Australia, with young men likely to hold this belief than young women.
Nearly three in five young men believe that many women mistakenly interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist. Lead researcher Dr Anastasia Powell from RMIT University said the good news was that young people’s understanding of the nature of violence against women had improved over time, and so had their support for gender equality. But, one of area of understanding that has diminished was around the unequal nature of domestic and family violence, according to Dr Powell.
“We must continue to invest in prevention strategies to continue to make ground on these attitudes and to make this the generation that ends violence against women,” Powell said. “Many people still hold outdated views of women in the home, and it is clear that many young men and women are going into relationships with different expectations around things like gender roles and consent.