‘Cowards’ and ‘Scumbags’: Tough Talk and Men’s Violence


This paper explores the ways in which particular forms of violence, namely violence against women and one-punch assaults, are framed in discourses of violence prevention in Australia. In denouncing certain acts, individuals and groups, I show that condemnatory responses—what I refer to here as ‘tough talk’—serve to reinforce, rather than challenge, hierarchical (gendered, raced, classed) difference as normative. Based on assumptions that link violence to particular ‘types’ of men, such approaches overlook the nuance, complexity and contextual meanings of violence. Preventing violence, I argue, requires that we engage with cultures of violence by focusing less on some men’s violence, instead recognising the interconnectedness of gender and other hierarchies of identity as the critical context for violence.

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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2018-12-01
Pages:132 to 147
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How to Cite
Seymour, K. (2018) “‘Cowards’ and ‘Scumbags’: Tough Talk and Men’s Violence”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 7(4), pp. 132-147. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v7i4.1083.

Author Biography

Dr Kate Seymour lectures in the Social Work program at Flinders University in South Australia. Her research profile builds upon her background in direct practice including individual and group work with men who use violence against their female partners. Her specific expertise relates to the mobilization of discourses of gender, masculinities and violence in the policies and practices of violence prevention and intervention. Dr Seymour is a skilled qualitative researcher and has established a growing reputation for her contribution to the critical study of masculinities and men’s violence.