Crossing the line: Sex and relationships


The Line, a new campaign established to take on the issues regarding domestic violence, was launched in Sydney on May 8 and has revealed some worrying attitudes present amongst young people in relationships.

More than 3000 individuals between 12 and 24 years of age were interviewed in regards to what they think is acceptable in a relationship. The survey concluded that one in three believed that “exerting control over someone is not a form of violence”, and one in four did not think it was serious if a man who is gentle by nature slapped his girlfriend when intoxicated. One in six thought that women should know their place, and one in four indicated that it is normal for men to pressure women into sex.

“That’s borderline rape,” the campaign’s ambassador, former AFL player Luke Ablett, said, shocked by answers to the survey. “So that is a really concerning thing that that’s how young boys and young girls are entering into their first sexual experiences, where they think it’s normal to pressure or force someone into that.”

Research into children getting misinformation from pornography and pop culture was carried out by Hall and Partners Open Mind and commissioned by Our Watch (the nation’s foundation opposing violence to women and their children). Chair of Our Watch Natasha Stott-Despoja said the report revealed that parents were not talking to their children openly about sex and relationships.

“Young people desperately want information and guidance from people they look up to, especially parents and teachers,” Ms Stott-Despoja said. “Instead, they get information from their friends, pornography, media and popular culture role models. These settings can perpetuate gender stereotypes and condone and encourage violence.”

Mr Ablett said the number of young people accessing pornography at a young age is also a part of the problem. “A lot of the porn that young people are accessing is really violent, is really degrading, it’s very much about male dominance,” he said. “It promotes this idea that if you keep doing it … the girl that you’re with will actually really enjoy it. These attitudes don’t exist in just bad kids from bad families in bad neighbourhoods. These attitudes exist across all socio-economic divisions, across all races, across all religions.”

Mr Ablett added that the survey found one in four young men believed controlling and violent behaviours are a signs of male strength.

“It can seem like a bit of a stretch for some people but the two women we’re seeing murdered every week in Australia at the moment can directly be related back to these attitudes and that’s why they’re so concerning,” he said.

The Line aims to break the cycle of violence by challenging gender stereotypes and sexism through a website and Facebook page.


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