Pathological women gamblers: Gender-related aspects of control

Abstract

This study examines the control exhibited by pathological women gamblers over their lives and their surroundings, and how this is governed by their perception of their gender role and socio-cultural expectations of them as women. Seventeen pathological women gamblers (13 of whom were mothers) were recruited from three addiction treatment centers in Israel, and participated in semi-structured interviews. Three central themes emerged during analysis: maintaining control over the gender roles-putting child raising and housekeeping duties first despite their gambling habits; control over the choice of gambling venue-gambling far from their home, or where they knew the owners; and moral control-steering clear of immoral behaviors in spite of their addiction to gambling. Further analysis reveals how pathological women gamblers who are also mothers make rational choices that help them juggle between their gender roles and gambling, to minimize the social costs that might be incurred by their gambling habit. Moreover, presenting the gambling behavior as more moral than theft or prostitution enabled them to normalize their behavior. The study's findings show how the decisions and choices made by the women in this study are shaped by the socio-cultural context in which they are made.

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