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Dangerous Traditions

Dangerous Traditions


When young straight men are raised to adhere to traditional gender roles--for example, the belief that husbands should not have to do housework or that women should not do a 'man's job'--they are prone to have unsafe sex with female partners and to inflict violence on them, according to a study published in the July 2006 issue of Journal of Urban Health. Researchers from the Boston University and Harvard University schools of public health found such men to be twice as likely to have committed violence against their primary sexual partner within the prior year. They were also twice as likely to have had unprotected vaginal sex with their main partners, increasing the women's risk of HIV infection. 'When [such] ideologies are accepting of male hypersexuality and female submission to male partners,' says M. Christina Santana, the study's lead author, 'young men's related risky behaviors will follow.' The study's authors conclude that helping young men to reshape their gender role beliefs could be useful in curbing violence against their partners and reducing HIV's spread to women.

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