Young Australians Have Some Appalling Views On Consent, Rape And Domestic Violence, Survey Finds

A quarter of young Australians believe that a lot of times, women who say they were raped led a man on and then regretted it.

violence against women domestic violence

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Here’s a grim stat for you: approximately one in seven young Australians, regardless of gender, reckon it’s okay for a man to continue having sex with a woman who initiated sex, but then changed her mind and pushed him away. Here’s another: around a quarter of young Australians believe that a lot of times, women who say they were raped led a man on and then regretted it.

These and other worrying stats were amongst the findings of the National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey (NCAS) 2017, which was released today. The survey revealed that while in general young Australians aged 16-24 support gender equality and oppose violence against women, a decent chunk of young people still hold some pretty concerning views.

Those views include the idea that “it is common for sexual assault accusations to be used as a way of getting back at men” (37 percent of young Australians agreed. 45 percent of young men agreed). More than one in four young people agreed that “if a woman sends a nude image to her partner, then she is partly responsible if he shares it without her permission”.

The survey also pointed to some worrying gaps in young Australians’ knowledge about violence against women. One in three young people reported that they would not know where to find help for a domestic violence matter, and one in eight young Australians weren’t aware that non-consensual sex in marriage is a crime (that is, they seemed to think that you cannot rape someone you’re married to). And contrary to what you might think, the survey found that young people, in general, don’t actually hold more positive attitudes towards gender equality than older Australians.

All of those results apply to young people regardless of gender, but the study also showed a difference between young men and women’s understandings of what counts as violence against women. Young men surveyed were significantly less likely to view non-physical forms of violence like stalking, tracking someone’s location without consent, or controlling a partner’s social life as a form of violence against women.

Young men were also less likely to agree that violence against women is common, and more likely to think that many allegations of sexual assault are false. Young men — and again, we’re talking about men aged 16-24 here — were more likely to think that men make better bosses than women, should take control of relationships, and do no harm when they make sexist jokes about women amongst their male friends.

It’s a minority of young men who think these things, but it’s still concerning that they do. In some cases, though, a majority of young men reported concerning views. 52 percent of young men agreed that “many women exaggerate how unequally women are treated in Australia”. 57 percent of young men agreed that “many women mistakenly interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist”.

And oddly, things aren’t necessarily getting better. Since the NCAS survey was last carried out in 2013, young people’s views have shifted on quite a few issues, regardless of gender. The proportion of young people who recognise (correctly) that men are more likely to commit acts of domestic violence has dropped since 2013. So has the proportion of young people who recognise that women are most likely to fear or suffer harm from domestic violence.

These figures suggest there’s still a lot of work to be done when it comes to educating young Australians about consent. The supposedly woke generation still has a long way to go.

You can find the full results of the NCAS survey here.