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The Purpose of this paper is to present the findings of an exploratoy study of how men experience criminally defined physical violence. It places men's responses explicitly within a framework that takes masculinity seriously. This paper concludes by raising theoretical issues about male recipients of violence, about ways to offer support to men who experience violence through an understanding about the context of masculinities in men's lives, and about gender and theorizing in the field of criminology.
While official statistics indicate that men are the typical physical violence (Hough and Mayhew 1983; Hough and Mayhew 1985; Gottfredson 1984; Shepherd 1990), we have little sense of the impact of such violence on men's lives. In contrast, feminist research has exposed the hidden reality of violence for women's lives (Kelly 1988; Stanko 1988) and has provided a wealth of information illustrating the impact of men's violence upon women (Stanko 1985).
The pioneering work exploring crime victims' experiences in the UK in depth began in the early 1980s. Maguire, in his study of burglary victims (Maguire 1982), interviewed nearly equal numbers of women and men. While he noted women's more severe emotional reactions, Maguire showed that men were more likely to express anger than distress or shock in response to burglary. It was women's distress, not men's anger, that was explored more fully in the text. In Shapland et al.'s 1985 study, men represented three-quarters of those interviewed. The authors found no differences between male and female assault victims. Neither of these studies used the social context of gender, masculinities as well as femininities, as a base from which to explore individual reactions to criminal assault. These contexts, we argue, are important for understanding individual reactions to, and providing support for, men and women experiencing assault.
Criminology's failure to explore men's particular experiences of violence is often attributed to men's reluctance to report |weakness'. This silence is, we are led to believe, a product of men's hesitation to disclose vulnerability (see e.g. Maxfield 1984; Crawford et al. 1990), as in, for instance, the study of the fear of crime, where women's reported fear is the most significant, and consistent, finding (La Grange and Ferraro 1989). The assumed reticence of men, and the unproblematical acceptance of it by researchers, turns the focus of attention in the victimization literature almost exclusively to women and their experiences of physical and sexual assault or to women's higher fear of crime (Gordon and Riger 1988; Stanko 1987; Warr 1984, 1985). Indeed, with the exception of feminist research, the bulk of criminology continues to eschew the exploration of gender as a significant contributor to how victims respond to their experiences of crime and violence. While |feminist methods' cannot be applied unproblematically to the study of men (Morgan 1992), they do point to the importance of taking experience, located within a gendered context, seriously.
Equally significant is how an image of the invulnerable man, embedded within criminological theory, coincides with a form of what Connell (1987) suggests is |hegemonic masculinity'. Men who are gay, for example, have a sense of how their gayness places them in many situations of vulnerability in homophobic societies. Non-white men must negotiate their physical vulnerability because of white racism. Although many men's lives are affected by the need to evolve strategies for negotiating violence with other men, research suggests that men restrict their lives less than women do (Gordon and Riger 1988). Nevertheless, the multiple intricacies of people's lives confirm that the reality of male vulnerability is complex.
Avoiding the implications of gendered experience for the delivery of support and aid to victims itself has implications. Models of assisting victims coping with violence have very different approaches and philosophical roots, with the feminist, self-help approach of refuge and rape crisis firmly rooted in an understanding of women's experiences of physical and sexual intrusion (Dobash and Dobash 1992). According to this approach male violence, experienced by an individual woman, is not merely the result of an unfortunate encounter with an individual man, but a manifestation of men's power in general and the subordination of women (see, for example, Kelly 1988; Stanko 1985).
The victim support movement in the UK during the 1980s spoke of victim-coping as a gender-neutral phenomenon, with the lead in government-sanctioned victim support services coming mainly from care- or welfare-oriented groups of volunteers (Maguire and Corbett 1987). Only recently has Victim Support in Britain begun thinking about male victims of crime. Social pyschologists too, have speculated about victims' coping strategies, with some limited attention to gender (Resick 1985). This approach, though, focuses upon how individuals (many of whom just happen to be women) mediate the impact of violence (Burgess and Holmstrom 1974; Bulman-Janoff and Frieze 1983).
To begin a masculine-grounded approach, it is important to make explicit the assumptions about men and risk of violence which, we argue, influence the coping strategies of male recipients of violence, the reactions of those around them, and the theorists who generalize about violence and its effect on people of both genders.
Noted but not notable: men in theories about risk of violence
Routine activities and lifestyle theories, by far the most often advanced in explanations of exposure to violence, suggest that features of people's lives, notably their time out of the home, away from suitable guardianship, and in contact with willing offenders, influence their risk of encountering violence (Cohen and Felson 1979; Hindelang et al. 1978). While these theories note the powerful predictors of victimization that rest in demographic factors, such as age, race, sex, and marital status, they do not treat these factors as problematical.
Most theories about individual risk of victimization, influenced by data gathered through large-scale victim surveys such as the US Bureau of Justice Statistics' National Crime Survey (Hindelang et al. 1978) and the British Crime Surveys (Hough and Mayhew 1983, 1985; Mayhew et al. 1989), focus on features of lifestyle and criminal opportunities to explain young men's higher involvement in crime and subsequent injury (Gottfredson 1984; Shepherd 1990). Even the local crime surveys conducted in Britain, especially those conducted through the co-operation of Islington Council, look at victimization through a similar lens of |lifestyle' or routine activities theory, concentrate on the gendered dimensions of women's high levels of fear and experiences of crime, and place women's fear within a wider structural context of economic, racial, and gendered inequality (Jones et al. 1986; Crawford et al. 1990). In the second Islington survey, though, Crawford et al. (1990) offer no explanations for men's low levels of fear, nor do they offer any detailed analysis of why those men who do report fear, do so.
While lifestyle/routine activities theories are used to explain greater vulnerability to crime of certain categories of people, these theories fail to address the thorny issues of how power, mediated by economics, race/ethnicity, gender, age, physical ability, and so forth, influences risk of victimization, and in particular of violence (see also Stanko 1990). Feminists, for example, have argued that official statistics fail to reflect women's widespread experiences of violence at the hands, of known and unknown men (Stanko 1988), and that this reflects an institutionalized bias against the …