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18 Jul 2017

Masculinities, Islam and Domestic Violence in Java

Rachmad Hidayat, 2009
Monas University


This research explores the links between masculinities, Islam and Muslim men’s attitudes to domestic violence in Java. Employing a social constructionist approach, the study understands violence primarily as a constituting practice of masculinity. A small scale in-depth qualitative research was undertaken in 2008 involving sixteen Javanese Muslim males living in rural areas of Purworejo, Central Java. They were mostly married and participated in focus groups and interviews which explored: 1) their perception of issue of domestic violence; 2) their manhood ideals and identities in the family and; 3) aspects of Islamic teaching that characterise masculinities in Java. Of particular interest was the men’s attitudes to the teaching of wife beating in Islam. The findings report that the dominant version of Muslim masculinities entails the head of family to be the foundation of masculine identity. Men felt that women should be submissive, compliant and loyal. This perspective led Javanese men to blame women’s behaviours in their perception of domestic violence. The dominant interpretation of Islamic doctrine on marriage, men’s leadership, women’s inferiority and wife beating embody the main features masculinities among Javanese. Within such discourse, Muslim participants responses to the teaching of wife beating characterises the rigorous version of Muslim masculinities with certain degree of tolerance to violence.

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