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Female Aggression: A Qualitative Study of Family Values Marital Satisfaction and Wife Aggression

Female Aggression: A Qualitative Study of Family Values Marital Satisfaction and Wife Aggression
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   European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 11, Number 4 (2009) 507  Female Aggression: A Qualitative Study of Family ValuesMarital Satisfaction and Wife Aggression Ali Edalati Faculty of Human Ecology, Universiti Putra Malaysia E-mail: alisq2008@yahoo.comTel: 0060122793206 Ma’rof Redzuan Faculty of Human Ecology, Universiti Putra Malaysia Mariani Mansor Faculty of Human Ecology, Universiti Putra Malaysia Mansor Abu Talib Faculty of Human Ecology, Universiti Putra Malaysia Abstract This paper examines family values, marital satisfaction and wife aggression (physical andpsychological) in Iran. For the purpose of collecting qualitative data, ten volunteer womenwere invited to be interviewed. The women participating in this study were those who werealready registered as “aggressive women” in counseling clinics. The participants completedthe Conflict Tactics Scale to report on the rates of occurrence of aggression. Resultsshowed that women reported more psychological aggression than physical. The familyvalues and marital satisfaction were related wives aggression. It is suggested that to furtherinvestigate aggression in diverse social groups, cultural factors should be taken intoconsideration. This article is part of a research in which involved 337 women asrespondents. Keywords: Wives Aggression, Family Values, Marital Satisfaction, Female Aggression 1. Introduction Industrialization and urbanization as the two influential social factors in recent years are assumed tohave led to complicate the dimensions of aggression; hence it calls for new research to deal withdifferent layers of each dimension. These dimensions clearly show variations across cultures andpopulations. This study is an attempt to examine wife’s aggression in the Iranian context which issupposed to have increased due to their awareness of their rights.The Iranian society is passing from a traditional society to a modern status, at least in so far asthe issues of prime importance in this study are concerned. Therefore, the Iranian families, especiallythe women in these families, have always been traditionally facing more problems compared to otherfamily members. In other words, the modern society values on the one hand and the current views onthe other hand, put the woman in bad conditions. Yet, the adoption of Western ideas in all aspects of life by younger generations will be a continued source of stress on family. This will also reinforce theexisting male and female conflict, as young generation of women will be exposed to the genderegalitarian values of western culture.   European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 11, Number 4 (2009) 508Recently, however, researchers have shown an increased interest in family aggression, and haveheightened the need for investigating this phenomenon across the world’s most vulnerable societies of which the context of the current study is no exception. Although different sources have painfullyreported aggression between spouses, these accounts have led to the recognition of the fact that thefamily aggression is a common phenomenon of modern society in which people may be physically orpsychologically assaulted, beaten up, slapped, or even killed in their own homes. As side effects, thenegative effects of the family aggression on the children and the society are undeniable, and havemarked detrimental consequences for both victims and aggressors (Kanoy, Ulku-Sreiner, Cox, &Burchinal, 2003). These latter effects make it worthy of attention from the viewpoint of femaleaggression.In a comprehensive, cross-cultural survey of thirty one nations, Straus (2008) has investigatedpatterns of violence with respect to the roles of male and female participants in demonstrating aviolence-marked behaviour. Along with other findings, it was found that almost a third of the femalesbeing surveyed as well as the males have physically assaulted their dating mates and/or partners withina certain period of twelve months. It is also important to note that, there were very large differencesbetween national settings in the percent who assaulted a partner. However, the findings showed that therates for any violence ranged from as low as 16% and 17% in Portugal and Sweden to as high as 44%and 77% in Mexico and Iran. The results show that the rates of severe assault ranged from a low rate of 1.7% and 4% in Sweden and Malta to a high rate of 19.8% and 23.2% in Tanzania, Taiwan, followedby 16.5% and 16.3% in Mexico and Iran respectively (Straus, 2008). Straus (2008) has reported thatalmost 94.6% of dating young couples in Iran has reported one case of mutual violence from which,16.3% has been reported as sever violence.Concerning the context of the present study, in a traditional and Islamic society like Iran it isvery difficult and sometimes impossible to enter into people’s personal realms. The members of such arestricted society always think that it is unacceptable to enter into others’ family most private affairs.Consequently, most instances of domestic violence often go unreported. Therefore, they denounce andignore it strongly and, unfortunately, there are no clear and definite statistics indicating the amount of aggression among the Iranian families (Ehzazi, 2002).However, the roles played by these factors -gender-bias variables- across families and the targetsocieties are almost obvious worldwide. In Iran the structure of family is changing and is under theprocesses of structuring and restructuring continuously. Therefore, any attitude towards family shouldbenefit from the new generation’s attitude toward the concept of family as well as the societyvalues.This will ensure a permanent and sustainable development of value-system with respect toindividuals rights regardless of their gender.In addition, Sabourin, Infante, & Rudd (1993) indicate that marital satisfaction is lower incouples where aggressive acts have happened. Meanwhile, according to Hotaling & Sugarman (1990),marital dissatisfaction is the most consistent risk marker in terms of male aggression and femalevictimization. However, in comparison to male aggression, few studies have been carried out onfemale aggression. Their findings show that female aggression is not less than that of male aggressionin many countries of the world (Straus 2008). Archer (2000) argues that females are slightly morelikely to use physical aggression against their husband than men. There is no evidence that womenmust be less hostile to get into aggression than males. This could not be a sound rationale to believethat women are physically weaker; therefore, they use other means and ways in order to get bestresults. According to Skowronski, Weaver, Wise, & Kelly (2005) girls are more subtle in their use of aggression.Aggression is often explained by social learning theory and especially by expectations of rewards (Bandura, 1973). Bandura (1977) states that most learning takes place indirectly by modeling,which entails receiving information by observing others. It means that observer extracts underlyingrules inside the behaviour. This theory clearly recognizes that fact that people can learn behaviourwithout directly experiencing and in absence of any rewards (new values and norms). However,   European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 11, Number 4 (2009) 509rewards are very important in motivating people to later perform the behaviour, in case of the currentresearch, the equality of situation in the family compare with their husband.From another broad perspective, human being learn to behave in each culture throughobserving other men and women in that culture (Bandura, 1986). Moreover they accept those aspectsof culture which are more attractive to them. The same is true about women in Iran. Through observingequality of men and women in developing countries, they have learnt and internalized such values andreact against traditional values. Because of awareness and feminist activities, women have reachedsufficiency. So they think they are able to revolutionize.Finally, the third founding theory for the current research, the social learning theory, believesthat people have learnt much of their norms and values from their parents, with their husband or schoolas well as the area where they live (Bandura, 1973). With respect to the context of the present research,as new values are being exerted at the levels of Iranian families, school, religion, and society,accordingly people are likely to learn these values and behaviours and make them internal. Based onthe Learning theory, the Iranian women use aggression for achieving and gaining their new values andrights.The variable contributing to aggression of females in the context of the present study is familyvalues and marital satisfaction. 2. Research Method For the purpose of collecting qualitative data, ten volunteer women were invited to be interviewed. Inorder to maintain anonymity, the real names of participants were not revealed and nicknames wereused; therefore, it is noted that the names used in the study are not their real names. Upon theregistration of the interviewees, the researcher scrutinized their available demographic information aswell as their performance in the questionnaires to confirm that members of the qualitative group do notviolate the homogeneity of the research sample in any of the plausible variables irrelevant to thecurrent research interest.In the initial phase of the interview, the questions that were not clear enough were edited andretranslated to a more fluent and common Persian language so that the participants were not confusedin the main phase of the interview. Also, in the initial phase of the interview, awareness was made onthe necessity of having a female interviewer as at times the participants were willing to take part in theinterview only if there was a female interviewer. However, the interview contents were transcribed toconduct the required content analysis procedure.In a personal interview, the interviewer read the questions to the respondent in a face to- facesetting and recorded the answers. Furthermore, some incentives were given in order to encourage themto cooperate with the researcher. In the qualitative phase of the study, the one-on-one interview methodwas used to gather the data. Ten women who had experienced the worst aggression were selectedpurposively to gain detailed information especially regarding those areas which had been highlightedin the previous quantitative findings.The one-to-one interviews were held on consecutive days and were conducted by the sameinterviewer, with each interview lasting as long as one hour. Each interview was audio-taped andtranscribed verbatim. They were then translated into English. A letter was sent to the purposivelyselected women explaining the study and asking permission to contact them. The researcher contactedeach woman who gave permission by telephone to explain the project in more detail. The screeninginterview enabled the researcher to do an in-depth interview. Suitable women were invited toparticipate in the study and again were given a verbal and written explanation of the project. Eachparticipant was required to give written consent before participating in the study.Before conducting interviews, an interview guide was used to help the researcher direct theconversation toward the topics and issues he wanted to learn about. The interview guide helped theresearcher know what to ask about, in what sequence, how to pose his questions and how to pose   European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 11, Number 4 (2009) 510follow-ups. It is important to note that the researcher did not entirely rely on tapes but took some field-notes during the interview which allowed more data to be captured. After completing the interview,notes were taken on how the interview progressed and where the interview took place. After groupingthemes together, the researcher organized the data in a way which helped develop themes and refineconcepts. 3. Results In this section, the descriptive data is presented in Table 1 which includes the level of aggression(physical and psychological) among the respondents. Table 1: Physical and Psychological Aggression Variables n % Mean SD.Total Aggression (n=337) 25.54 13.51 Low (<30) 243 72.1Medium (30-60) 86 25.5High (<60) 8 2.4 Physical Aggression (n==337) 6.19 8.68 Low (<17) 310 92.0Medium (17-34) 21 6.2High (>34) 6 1.8 Psychological Aggression (n=337) 19.28 8.13 Low (<12) 78 23.1Medium (12-24) 164 48.7High (>24) 95 28.2 Findings for the “total aggression score” are reported in Table 1. It represents the totalaggression and also physical and psychological aggression of the sample. Almost all of the respondentshave reported at least one incident of physical and psychological aggression toward their husbands inthe twelve months prior to data collection.The mean for total aggression was observed m=25.54 and standard deviation was sd=13.51.Approximately (72.1%; 243) of the respondents have a low level of total aggression and (25.5%; 86)have a medium level of aggression. The remaining (2.4%; 8) have a high level of aggression. Thesefindings represent the other plausible sources of inducing aggression as it runs contrary to theexpectations of the researcher. However, the qualitative data collection along with the contribution of the other variables is used to make decision over the formulated hypotheses. This aggression has beendivided into two sections of physical and psychological aggressions in the following analysis.For physical aggression, the mean was observed to m= 6.19 and standard deviation was sd=8.68. The tabulated data represents that, (92.0%; 310) of respondents have a low level of physicalaggression, while, (6.2%; 21) have medium physical aggression levels and (1.8%; 6) have a high levelof aggression.For psychological aggression, mean was observed m= 19.28 and standard deviation wassd=8.13. It could be realized that, approximately (23.1%; 78) of respondents have a low level of psychological aggression, whereas, (48.7%; 164) of them have medium psychological aggression and(28.2%; 95) of respondents have high levels of psychological aggression. In summary, the results of this study revealed that the rate of psychological aggression is higher than physical aggression.Moreover, the study supported findings from earlier studies that female’s psychologicalaggression is higher than physical aggression. However, the findings are considered unexpected in that,the relatively larger part of the research participants who have been proved aggressive did not achievea high score of total aggression. Researcher will attempt investigating the possibility of the   European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 11, Number 4 (2009) 511contribution of other variables into the observed level of aggression across the research sample byutilizing co-occurring measures and triangulating data sources.The qualitative procedure was adopted to investigate factors contributing to women’saggression is explained. In this study, 10 women were purposively selected and interviewed. Thesecriteria for a safe and representative sample were thoughtfully determined in such a way to inclusivelyrepresent the spectrum of women participating in the research project.Their education level was primary school for two, secondary school for two, high school forthree and university level for three of them. Three of these women were 20-25 years old, three were26-30 years old, two were 31-35 years of age and two were 36-40 years old. The duration of marriagefor three of them was five or less than five years, for three 6-10 years, for two 11-15 years and for two16-20 years. Five of them were employed and seven had experience violence in their parents' housebefore marriage. In Table one a detailed demographic introduction is presented for the interviewsessions. Table 2: Demographic Characteristics of the Interviewed Women Characteristics and Features of the Interviewed Women 1. Afifeh was an active, tall and overweight woman. She was unemployed and she was 40 years old. She got married21 years ago, had two children. Her education level was primary school level. Her husband was an addicted and shehad to remarry. She looked serious. She liked to answer the questions carefully and sensitively.2. Golshifteh was 31 years old, a household wife, and unemployed with a diploma degree. She had been married forsix years.3. Laila was a 25 years old woman who had a university degree and worked in a university. She married five yearsago. Her husband’s education level is lower than hers.4. Shakila was young, thin and 24 years old. She worked and had a university degree. She had been married for threeyears and had one son.5. Nazanin was a 24 years old woman without children. She had a university degree and had worked in a privatecompany for four years.6. Afsaneh was a 27 years old woman. She had a diploma, and was employed. She got married seven years ago.7. Zahra was 32 years old with one child. She married seven years ago. She has a diploma and is unemployed.8. Nasrin was 36 years old with two children. She looked old and angry, and unemployed. She had problems with herhusband and her husband remarried. She was not satisfied with her marriage.9. Samaneh was 29 years old, overweight and religious. She was working in the hospital and had been married sinceshe was 13 years old.10. Sapeedeh was 30 years old with a secondary school education. She married 12 years ago and was unemployed. Based on the questions raised in the interview guide, the participants' answers are classified anddiscussed as follows. The interviewed women's answers to this question were carefully analyzed andthe concepts which were frequently observed were categorized as summarized in the following table.However, this research has employed “Structure Interview” as the technique of elicitinginformation from the interviewees. After each interview the contents of the recorded sessions weretranscribed and a thorough analysis was done according to “content analysis” technique.The second step is recommended to be developing themes based on their frequency of occurrence within the observed field of inquiry. The third phase comprised of drawing common themesfrom the analyzed interviews contents. The themes were then double checked to account for theirfrequency across the participants. In the following sections, each interview question is presented alongwith the related themes which were traced after the content analysis phase of the qualitative research.The participants were asked a set of predetermined (structured) questions which are presentedin the following section based on the objectives of the research project. The first research questionslooks at the family values in which wives have reported two main inequality in their mutual life, andthe other is luxury dominance which is being refered to as a reason for aggression and annoyanceamong women.
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