Looking at your cell phone or controlling what your partner is doing is one of the most widespread forms of sexist violence among young people in Spain. And almost nine out of 10 recognize gender violence in their environment. This is according to the latest Youth and Gender Barometer 2023 carried out by the Reina Sofía Center of FadJuventud, which also warns that denialism about sexist violence continues to grow among young Spaniards. 30% consider that, although it is wrong, it is “inevitable because it has always existed.”
The barometer, whose data have been obtained through an online questionnaire carried out between May and June to a sample of 1,500 young people between 15 and 29 years old, launched a battery of 16 possible acts of gender violence that the respondents had to identify as being carried out, suffered or observed in their environment. Among them, checking the cell phone, controlling what the partner does, insulting or humiliating, insisting on having sex, taking photos without the partner knowing, and also hitting. 87% of young people acknowledge having seen some of these attitudes in their close circle. Checking your cell phone is the act that most explains having suffered. 45% of those interviewed identify this act of violence in their environment (54% among women and 35% of men).
“You can see how this type of violence is associated with other forms that have to do with control and surveillance,” says Stribor Kuric, one of the authors of the barometer. Because although the most mentioned form of violence is checking the mobile phone, the next most recognized forms of violence have to do with control: where he goes, what he does, how he dresses... The sociologist explains that This type of violence, which is also deeply affected by new technologies, is the one that has grown the most in recent years and also the one that is most “normalized or whitewashed.”
Regarding acts of violence suffered as a couple, 24.4% of women claim that they have had their cell phone checked compared to 18.5% of them. 19.7% of them affirm that their partner has told them who they can talk to or go to (15.3% them). 21.2% of girls have suffered from their partner's insistence on having sexual relations when she did not want to (11.3% of men). 17.1 have been insulted or humiliated (10.8 of them) and 16.8 have felt fear compared to 8.9 of them. In the dissemination of messages without permission or insults, they are the ones who say they have suffered the most: 8.8% of those surveyed compared to 8.4% of women.
Around 9% of respondents, without major differences between boys and girls, explain that they have been hit. Without the interviewees themselves being involved, 22% of those surveyed know of cases in which they hit their partners: 27% in women and 16% in men.
According to the data, 33% of those interviewed have met someone who they try to distance their partner from their friends (42% among women and 22% among men). Also, almost 30% of young people have known cases in which their partner is made to feel afraid.
And although two out of three young people (63.3%) consider sexist violence as a very serious social problem, 30% consider that it is “inevitable because it has always existed.” 46% consider that violence by women against men is equally problematic, 44% believe that men are unprotected against false complaints and 37% believe that the presumption of innocence for men has been lost. 18% of those surveyed consider that gender violence does not exist and that it is a sociological invention and almost 17% that it is a low intensity problem.
“There is a tendency towards worsening in terms of the attitude towards gender violence, both in statements that start from denying gender violence to saying that it is an ideological invention,” says Stribor Kuric. The sociologist explains that this idea that violence has always existed and that it is inevitable is a trend that is quite widespread among youth. Although he also points out that there is a broad consensus, especially among women, that he also agrees with the statement that gender violence is a very serious social problem.
Regarding the denialism that increases among them, Kuric warns that the “anti-feminist retreat” has its effects on both boys and girls. Despite this, he believes that it is important to highlight that in the variables analyzed there is an important difference between men and women, with them always being the ones who position themselves in more anti-feminist or more denialist positions on violence or trivializing it.
Regarding the perception of sexist violence in the environment, Kuric points out that there is increasing awareness about what gender violence is, about what type of factors or elements can make it up. And this is, for the sociologist, one of the most 'positive' readings that can be extracted from the data.
The young people interviewed point out “lack of education” as the factor that most influences sexist violence. The sociologist believes it is essential to insist on the digital part and literacy so that young people learn to distinguish fake news from real news. Stribor regrets that the most extremist or radical speeches, even if they are in the minority, “end up pollinating the collective imagination.”