A Critical Introduction to Human Sexuality
A Critical Introduction to Human Sexuality

A Critical Introduction to Human Sexuality

Lead Author(s): Nicole McNichols, Matt Numer

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A modern, comprehensive and research-based exploration of human sexuality that incorporates real life perspectives on contemporary issues.

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Key features in this textbook

Human Sexuality includes Spotlight Stories: Audio interviews that relate text content to the real world, including an interview with Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands.
25-40 built-in assessment questions embedded in each chapter, as well as comprehensive test banks for students to test their knowledge.
Full set of slide decks aligned to each chapter of the book; each deck comes with interactive questions, videos and eye-catching visuals.

Comparison of Human Sexuality Textbooks

Consider adding Top Hat’s A Critical Introduction to Human Sexuality textbook to your upcoming course. We’ve put together a textbook comparison to make it easy for you in your upcoming evaluation.

Top Hat

Nicole McNichols, Matthew Numer, “A Critical Introduction to Human Sexuality”, Only One Edition needed

Oxford Press

Baldwin, Janice & John Baldwin & Simon LeVay, Discovering Human Sexuality (3rd ed.)

McGraw-Hill

Hyde, Janet and John DeLamater, Understanding Human Sexuality (13th ed.)

Pearson

Hock, Roger R., Human Sexuality (4th ed.)

Pricing

Average price of textbook across most common format

Up to 40-60% more affordable

Lifetime access on any device

$67.95

E-book

$169.95

Hardcover print text only

$90

E-book

$180

Hardcover print text only

$199.95

Hardcover print text only

Always up-to-date content, constantly revised by community of professors

Content meets standard for Human Sexuality. Constantly revised and updated by a community of professors with the latest content

In-Book Interactivity

Includes embedded multi-media files and integrated software to enhance visual presentation of concepts directly in textbook

Only available with supplementary resources at additional cost

Only available with supplementary resources at additional cost

Only available with supplementary resources at additional cost

Customizable

Ability to revise, adjust and adapt content to meet needs of course and instructor

All-in-one Platform

Access to additional questions, test banks, and slides available within one platform

Pricing

Average price of textbook across most common format

Top Hat

Nicole McNichols, Matthew Numer, “A Critical Introduction to Human Sexuality”, Only One Edition needed

Up to 40-60% more affordable

Lifetime access on any device

Oxford Press

Baldwin, Janice & John Baldwin & Simon LeVay, Discovering Human Sexuality (3rd ed.)

$67.95

E-book

$169.95

Hardcover print text only

McGraw-Hill

Hyde, Janet and John DeLamater, Understanding Human Sexuality (13th ed.)

$90

E-book

$180

Hardcover print text only

Pearson

Hock, Roger R., Human Sexuality (4th ed.)

$199.95

Hardcover print text only

Always up-to-date content, constantly revised by community of professors

Constantly revised and updated by a community of professors with the latest content

Top Hat

Nicole McNichols, Matthew Numer, “A Critical Introduction to Human Sexuality”, Only One Edition needed

Oxford Press

Baldwin, Janice & John Baldwin & Simon LeVay, Discovering Human Sexuality (3rd ed.)

McGraw-Hill

Hyde, Janet and John DeLamater, Understanding Human Sexuality (13th ed.)

Pearson

Hock, Roger R., Human Sexuality (4th ed.)

In-book Interactivity

Includes embedded multi-media files and integrated software to enhance visual presentation of concepts directly in textbook

Top Hat

John Redden & Joe Crivello, Human Physiology, Only One Edition needed

Oxford Press

Baldwin, Janice & John Baldwin & Simon LeVay, Discovering Human Sexuality (3rd ed.)

McGraw-Hill

Hyde, Janet and John DeLamater, Understanding Human Sexuality (13th ed.)

Pearson

Stuart Fox, Human Physiology (14th ed.)

Customizable

Ability to revise, adjust and adapt content to meet needs of course and instructor

Top Hat

John Redden & Joe Crivello, Human Physiology, Only One Edition needed

Oxford Press

Baldwin, Janice & John Baldwin & Simon LeVay, Discovering Human Sexuality (3rd ed.)

McGraw-Hill

Hyde, Janet and John DeLamater, Understanding Human Sexuality (13th ed.)

Pearson

Hock, Roger R., Human Sexuality (4th ed.)

All-in-one Platform

Access to additional questions, test banks, and slides available within one platform

Top Hat

John Redden & Joe Crivello, Human Physiology, Only One Edition needed

Oxford Press

Baldwin, Janice & John Baldwin & Simon LeVay, Discovering Human Sexuality (3rd ed.)

McGraw-Hill

Hyde, Janet and John DeLamater, Understanding Human Sexuality (13th ed.)

Pearson

Hock, Roger R., Human Sexuality (4th ed.)

About this textbook

Lead Author

Nicole McNichols, Ph.DUniversity of Washington

Nicole McNichols is a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she also received her PhD in Social Psychology. Over the past five years, Nicole has built her class, The Diversity of Human Sexuality, into the University of Washington’s largest and most popular undergraduate course with over two thousand enrolled students each year. Nicole is frequently a guest lecturer and speaker regarding topics in human sexuality. She was at the forefront of the University of Washington’s push to adopt and develop active learning techniques and technologies to bring scientific subject matter to life in the classroom. Nicole is an active member of a variety of societies for teaching human sexuality and was recently the keynote speaker at the University of Washington’s Psychology graduation. Nicole received her BA from Cornell University and her MA from NYU.

Lead Author

Matthew Numer, Ph.DDalhousie University

Matthew Numer is an Assistant Professor in the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University and cross-appointed to the Gender and Women’s Studies Program. He has been funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for his work in the areas of gender, sex and sexuality. His research interests include substance use, gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men’s health, sexual health, online technologies, LGBTQ2S health, masculinities, Indigenous boys’ and men’s health, and post-secondary pedagogical practices. He has received numerous awards for his interactive teaching methods and is widely known as an innovator in the classroom. He is the former Chair of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, was a member of the board of directors for the Halifax Sexual Health Centre for eight years, and currently serves on the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia: Gay Men’s Health Advisory Committee.

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Chapter 19: Sexual Coercion, Harassment, and Partner Violence

19.1 Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Define the concepts of rape and sexual assault.
  • Discuss the prevalence of sexual assault in the U.S.
  • Discuss the consequences of sexual assault for victims in addition to their physical injuries.
  • Describe the "Victim/Survivor" debate.
  • Understand the various theories that attempt to explain why people commit rape, including the concept of rape culture.
  • Describe the problem surrounding sexual assault on college campuses, the Title IX investigations currently underway, and the legal battle over how such allegations should be handled.
  • Describe the idea and importance of sexual consent. 
  • Discuss the causes and consequences of intimate partner violence.
  • Explain the different forms and contexts surrounding sexual harassment. 
  • Understand what stalking is and how it happens. 


Discussion 1

What is sexual consent?

Discussion 2

What indication(s)/behaviour(s) do you need to give to a partner(s) to get sexual consent?

Discussion 3

What indication(s)/behaviour(s) do you need to give to a partner(s) to give sexual consent?

Discussion 4

What are some ways that you would imply/tell your partner(s) that you are looking to initiate sexual intercourse?

Discussion 5

Do you believe sexual consent should always require verbal consent? Why/Why not?

Discussion 6

What is your view about the use of the word "survivor" instead of "victim" to describe those who have experienced sexual coercion or sexualized violence?


19.2 Sensitive Nature of Sexual Assault

​A note before we begin this chapter. Please keep in mind that we will be discussing sexual assaults, coercion, harassment, and violence. This may be a sensitive topic. If you are having difficulties with this material, we suggest that you speak to your course instructor, certified counselor or psychologist. The material presented may elicit negative emotions from past experiences. Nonetheless, it is important to discuss these issues to bring greater awareness with the ultimate goal of reducing sexual assault and coercion. This chapter will include first-person accounts of sexual assault.

19.3 Defining Rape and Sexual Assault

According to the U.S. Department of Justice sexual assault is "any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient." The definition of sexual assault includes sexual activities such as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape." Rape, a subset of sexual assault, is a more specific term; legally it is defined as: “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” Statutory rape refers to such penetration, without physical force, of a victim who is unable to give consent either because of their young age or mental incapacity. 

Date rape is not a legal term, but it is used to describe situations in which a consensual sexual interaction is already underway when the rape occurs. Date rape does not necessitate that two people are on a formal date of any kind. Date rape includes acquaintance rape, a broader term that refers to any rape where the perpetrator was a friend or acquaintance of the victim. Most rapes are, in fact, instances of acquaintance rape. According to RAINN, in 45% of rapes the rapist is a friend or acquaintance of the victim, and in an additional 25%, the perpetrator is (or was) the victim's boyfriend/spouse/intimate partner. In 1% of rapes, the perpetrator is a non-spouse relative. Only 28% of rapes are committed by a stranger to the victim.

To be found guilty of rape, it is usually necessary to show that the victim made it clear to her (or his) rapist that she (or he) did not willingly engage in sex. In most situations, this unwillingness is reflected either in the victim's physical actions or words at the time of the incident or in the physical condition of the victim. The courts realize, however, that in many situations trying to use physical force to prevent being raped is either impossible or dangerous.

Sometimes situations occur where a person is not comfortable engaging in sexual activity, but for various reasons does not feel able to speak up and say "no" or to resist the advances. These types of cases, while not meeting the legal definition of "sexual assault" or "rape," may nonetheless merit disciplinary action at schools and colleges. They also highlight the importance of sexual consent, a topic that sparked a national conversation, particularly on college campuses.

Question 19.01

________ is a form of acquaintance rape and is used to describe situations where a consensual sexual interaction is already underway when the rape occurs.

A

Date rape

B

Statutory rape

C

Incapacitated rape

D

Sexual Assault

19.3.1 Victims of Sexual Violence: Prevalence

According to RAINN, "1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed, 2.8% attempted)". 

  • 54% of victims are between the ages 18-34
  • 28% of victims are between the ages of 35-64
  • 15% of victims are between the ages of 12-17
  • 3% of victims are aged 65+

About 3% of American men—or 1 in 33—have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime, meaning that in 1 out of every 10 rape cases, the victim is male. Unfortunately, our society too frequently responds to male rape with disbelief and ridicule. Men and boys who experience sexual assault can face significant challenges because of the social norms and beliefs about masculinity. There is a culture of silence surrounding men and boys’ experiences of sexual assault. Anyone can be a perpetrator of sexual assault against a man or boy, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, and age.

​​According to one study, between 5% and 10% of sexual assaults against gay men were committed by heterosexual males as a form of "gay bashing" (Berrill, 1990). Research suggests that 28% of gay men experience sexual assault by their partner (McClennen, Summers and Vaughan, 2002). Adult men with disabilities experience sexual abuse more often than those without them; 30% of sexual abuse survivors with disabilities are male (Sobsey, 1994).

Men and boys who are sexually assaulted may question their sexual orientation if the perpetrator was a man. This may be particularly true if the victim experienced an erection or ejaculation during the incident and the perpetrator used coercive statements like “look, you like it.” These coercive tactics are most commonly used among younger victims. Erections can be unavoidable and involuntary in these situations. Sexual orientation does not change based on an experience of sexual assault or coercion. It is, however, natural to question sexual orientation after such an experience. ​

The other issue regarding sexual assault among men is the frequency with which it occurs within the prison system. According to the US Department of Justice, approximately 5% of federal and state inmates experience sexual victimization. Some advocates claim that this number is much higher because of under-reporting, especially among youths. The following video illustrates some of the issues surrounding sexual assault among boys and men. 

Sexual minorities are at particularly high risk for sexual violence. According to RAINN, 21% of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming) college students have been sexually assaulted, compared to 18% of non-TGQN college females, and 4% of non-TGQN college males. Looking at studies that have Included non-college students, 50% of transgender men and women have been sexually assaulted at one point in their lives (Stotzer, 2009). Trans women are at particularly high risk.

​According to RAINN, Native Americans are at the greatest risk of sexual violence. American Indians are twice as likely to experience a rape/sexual assault compared to the general population.

Native American women are two and a half times more likely than their peers to experience sexual assault. Often the perpetrators aren't Native Americans, and because of a legal loophole, perpetrators have been able to get away with it. 

Question 19.02

Approximately how many women will be a victim of rape in their lifetime?

A

1 in 2

B

1 in 6

C

1 in 10

D

1 in 25


Question 19.03

Which of the following accurately reflects how society tends to respond to male rape?

A

Disbelief

B

Ridicule

C

Minimization

D

All of the above

19.3.2 Reporting and Prosecution

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that the majority of rapes and sexual assaults perpetrated against women and girls in the United States between 1992 and 2000 were not reported to the police. Only 36% of rapes, 34% of attempted rapes, and 26% of other sexual assaults were reported. Reasons for not reporting sexual assault vary among individuals, but one study identified the following as the most commons reasons given for not reporting (Du Mont et al., 2003).

  • Self-blame or guilt
  • Shame, embarrassment, or desire to keep the assault a private matter
  • Humiliation or fear of the perpetrator or other individual's perceptions
  • Fear of not being believed or of being accused of playing a role in the crime
  • Lack of trust in the criminal justice system.   

It is important to note that sexual assault is never the victim's fault. Various explanatory models for rape will be covered later in this chapter.

Reporting a rape is important. It helps the victim to regain a sense of control and decreases the chance that the rapist will rape again. Even if a formal charge is not made, having the perpetrator's name on a university file, for example, will facilitate prosecution if another offense occurs. Nonetheless, reporting sexual assault is an incredibly hard, personal choice that only a victim can make for themselves. 

Question 19.04

Which of the following is not a common reason that a rape is not reported to the police?

A

Belief that police won't do anything

B

Self-blame.

C

Desire to protect the perpetrator

D

Sense that rape was "not a big deal"

19.3.3 Female Perpetrators of Rape

​Take a second and try to envision someone who commits sexual assault. Most likely, you are thinking of a man. Given western culture's pervasive perception that perpetrators of sexual violence are almost always men, this makes sense. In fact, the majority of the research examined in this chapter admittedly focuses on situations of sexual assault where the perpetrator is a man. To believe that only men commit sexual assault, however, is incorrect. 

​Some of the best data we have on female perpetrators of sexual assault comes from research completed in 2017 by Lara Stemple and her colleagues who analyzed four large-scale federal agency surveys conducted independently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in 2008 through 2013 (Stemple et al., 2016).  In their study, the authors first describe their findings from the The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NCVS), an ongoing, nationally representative survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that measures both lifetime victimization and victimization within the 12 months prior to questioning (Stemple et al., 2016).  Looking at that report, the authors did find that over their lifetime, both women and men were far more likely to experience sexual assault perpetrated by men compared to women. However, among men reporting non-penetrative forms of sexual victimization, 68.6% reported female perpetrators, while among men reporting being made to penetrate, 79.2% of victimized men reported female perpetrators.

​In the same study by Stemple et al., the authors also examined the National Crime Victimization Survey, conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics which reports violent crime. After aggregating and analyzing data from 2010 through 2013, the authors discovered that female perpetrators acting without male co-perpetrators were reported in 28 percent of rape or sexual assault incidents involving male victims and 4.1 percent of sexual assaults toward female victims.  

​To study nonconsensual sex among prison inmates, Stemple et al. next examined data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics under the Prison Rape Elimination Act. Contrary to assumptions, the biggest threat to incarcerated women does not come from male corrections staff. In reality, female victims are more than three times as likely to experience sexual abuse by other women inmates than by male staff. Also, women inmates are more likely to be abused by other inmates than are male inmates, challenging the commonly held view that sexual violence in prison is only about men assaulting men.

​How about college populations? To address this question, Stemple et al. refer to a 2014 study that included 284 college and high school boys and men (Stemple & Meyer, 2014). In this study, it was found that 43 percent of these men and boys reported being sexually coerced, with the majority of coercive incidents resulting in unwanted sexual intercourse. Of those incidents, 95 percent reported only female perpetrators. This figure is high partially due to the fact that the authors defined sexual coercion broadly to include verbal pressure such as repeatedly asking and begging.

​Both men and women commit sexual assault and in both cases, it is vastly under-reported. Why is this?  Western culture pressures male victims to interpret their own sexual victimization by a woman in ways that are consistent with our culture's masculinity ideals. These include the notion that men should welcome any and all opportunities for sex (Davies & Rogers, 2006) and that male victims are somehow responsible for their own abuse. This is particularly true when male victims move from childhood to adolescence when they are assigned even more blame for encounters with adult women. Even ​when female abusers are reported, they are less likely to be investigated, arrested, or punished compared to male perpetrators, who are regarded by western culture as more harmful.

​Interestingly, gender roles also contribute to the problem with underreporting of female perpetrators. In her paper, Stemple describes how ​stereotypes about women “include the notion that women are nurturing, submissive helpmates to men...... The idea that women can be sexually manipulative, dominant, and even violent runs counter to these stereotypes. Yet studies have documented female-perpetrated acts that span a wide spectrum of sexual abuse.”  As a result, the authors point out,  female perpetration is downplayed among professionals in mental health, social work, public health, and law, with harmful results for male and female victims, in part due to these “stereotypical understandings of women as sexually harmless.”  

​To date, no existing clinical studies examine large numbers of female sexual perpetrators. As a result, research examining the particular social cognitive processes and motivations specific to female perpetrators is sorely lacking.

19.3.4 Effects of Rape on Victims

The experience of rape violates a person’s sense of inner control and autonomy. It is not surprising, therefore, that the trauma experienced by rape victims produces harm that extends far beyond the mere physical injuries sustained from the incident. Like other survivors of horrific events, rape victims are at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder. In the context of rape, PTSD produces a specific set of long-term effects known collectively as rape trauma syndrome, the symptoms of which include the following:

  • Feelings of numbness or disconnection, alternating with flashbacks and preoccupation with the rape incident
  • Self-blame
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Sleeplessness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Headaches
  • Digestive disturbances

In the first two weeks following a rape, 94% of victims experience rape trauma syndrome and 46% continue to experience the syndrome three months after the event. For several years following the rape, victims remain at a higher risk for depression, anxiety, drug addiction, and alcoholism.

Victims of rape are also more likely to report sexual problems following the rape. The majority of rape victims lose their interest in engaging in sexual activity for several months thereafter and 40% report sexual problems that last for several years following the event. These problems typically include loss of interest in sex, difficulty becoming aroused, pain during sex and vaginismus.

Question 19.05

Victims of rape often experience post-traumatic stress disorder. The collection of symptoms, which include symptoms such as depression, anger, sleeplessness and Inability to concentrate, are referred to as:


In an effort to empower rape victims, the term rape “survivor” is often used in place of rape “victim.” The idea is that by using the word “survivor,” women are afforded a sense of strength, dignity, and control instead of the helplessness that the word “victim” connotes. Although some have lauded the use of the word "survivor," others point out that it unfairly puts pressure on those who experience rape to feel as though they have healed and moved on, when in fact many times they most definitely have not. 

This debate is described in a recent New York Times article, "The Forced Heroism of the Survivor." In the article, Dana Bolger, executive director of Know Your Title IX says the following:

“But what once felt radical has blossomed into a rhetoric of almost mandatory heroism… ‘Compulsory survivorship depoliticizes our understanding of violence and its effects,’ …It places the burden of healing on the individual, while comfortably erasing the systems and structures that make surviving hard, harder for some than for others.”

Question 19.06

What is your view about the use of the word "survivor" instead of "victim"to describe those who have been raped? Which points made in the New York Times article, if any, did you find most compelling?

19.4 Explanatory Models of Rape 

The question of why men rape has been approached from a variety of perspectives that look at societal as well as individual factors. This is a complicated question, of course, for which there is likely no single correct answer.

19.4.1 Biosocial Theories—Rape As An Evolutionary Adaptation?

Figure 19.1. Orangutans are known for engaging in "forced copulation." [1]​

Are males pre-programmed to rape? Is it part of their evolutionary DNA (Thornhill & Palmer, 2000)? The vast majority of researchers will answer this question with a resounding, "NO," yet it is worth mentioning if only to strike down certain pernicious myths about rape that continue to permeate our society. Indeed, "forced copulation" is common among a wide range of animal species, including our close primate relatives, such as orangutans (Clutton-Brock & Parker, 1995). In some of these behavioral patterns, "forced copulation" has led to the clear evolutionary advantage of reproductive success. Biosocial models suggest that the desire to rape in humans results from a similar evolutionary adaptation and is a function of hyperactive male sexual desire (i.e., "testosterone poisoning") coupled with a male's perceived chances of being caught/punished. It also suggests that males will be more likely to rape when they have restricted access to willing female partners. A slight variation of this model suggests that rape evolved as a byproduct of male aggression and thirst for dominance (Palmer, 2010). 

The major problem with this theory is that if true, it would predict relatively uniform rates of rape as well as aggression across all societies, and yet this predicted uniformity absolutely does not occur. In fact, it does not even occur equally across all primate species as demonstrated by the fact that one of our closest genetic relatives, the bonobo, does not rape and in fact promotes gender equality. (For more information about our peace-loving primate relatives, please see Chapter One.) 

Question 19.07

The theory that humans are genetically programmed to rape is weakened by which piece of evidence?

A

Orangutans frequently engage in "forced copulation."

B

Rape does not occur at the same rate across all societies.

C

Cultures that rape tend to have higher population growth.

D

All of the above

19.4.2 Individual Difference Models—Personal Characteristics of Rapists Versus Non-Rapists

Much research has attempted to uncover particular traits or characteristics of upbringing that distinguish rapists from non-rapists. Whereas some violent rapists do have severe personality disorders or are driven by sadistic tendencies, the vast majority of rapists do not suffer from a major mental health disorder.

Like other people who commit violent crimes, rapists do tend to have lower socioeconomic status than non-rapists, and also tend to have less education (Gannon et al., 2008). They are also more likely to suffer from insecure attachment styles as a result of poor relationships with their parents growing up (Dang & Gorzalka, 2015). They are more likely to have experienced emotional or physical abuse as children, and to have had more exposure to pornography and violent media at a younger age (Simons et al., 2008). Overall, rapists are more likely to have had violent upbringings than their non-rapist peers (Gannon et al., 2008). 

Research by Neil Malamuth of UCLA has looked specifically at characteristics of date rapists. According to his Confluence Model of Sexual Aggression, male college students who rape tend to be high in two major clusters of personality variables (Malamuth & Hald, 2017). The first cluster is called the Hostile Masculinity (HM) cluster and the second is called the Impersonal Sex (IS) cluster. The HM cluster consists of personality variables that include having a narcissistic, insecure, defensive hypersensitive and hostile-distrustful orientation, particularly toward women. The IS cluster includes a tendency to derive sexual gratification from controlling or dominating women. It largely reflects a developmental history of growing up in a troubled/violent household culminating in a detached, "promiscuous" orientation toward sex. Below are some specific risk factors that stem from Malamuth's two clusters: 

  • Many sexual partners and frequent coitus
  • Focus on orgasm
  • Preference for hooking up, not relationships
  • Positive response to sex aggressive porn
  • Misogyny
  • Personal history of being victimized (violence, abuse)

Malamuth's research suggests that high levels of these risk factors make a male more likely to rape and that lower levels afford a protective benefit. Importantly, he notes that these risk factors are not merely additive, but have an interactional quality. Having multiple risk factors, in other words, increases a person's chances of committing rape in a multiplicative manner. On a positive note, researchers also found that there was one personality trait, empathy, that counteracted many of the other risk factors. To the extent that males are able to figuratively put themselves in their victims' shoes and imagine the pain and trauma that sexual violence will cause their victims, they are less likely to commit sexual aggression.

In other research, Malamuth has examined how particular social cognitions (beliefs) and personality variables are associated with the following four major stages that culminate in a rape: motivation, overcome internal inhibitors, overcome external inhibitors, and find opportunities/select victim (Malamuth, 1986). The social cognitions and personality variables associated with each of these stages are outlined below:

Motivation

  • Willingness to have sex by any means 
  • Prove self—establish masculinity, heterosexuality
  • Prove powerlessness of victim—desire to maintain control over "property"
  • Sexual aggression, paraphilia
  • Misogyny—unresolved anger at women

Overcome internal inhibitors

  • Justify one’s own actions to one’s self
  • Belief in rape myths—“she wanted it”
  • Sense of entitlement—“she owes me”
  • Retribution—“she deserves it”
  • Belief that "might is right"

Overcome external inhibitions

  • Perceive social support, tolerance for actions
  • Perceive actions as “private,” “personal,” “family business”
  • Social boundaries – patriarchy, marriage
  • Male dominance structures – military, sports, celebrities
  • Male group bonds – “boys being boys” 

Find opportunities/Select victims

  • Perceive females as inferior
  • Defining desirable feminine traits—passivity, compliance
  • Prefer female dependency/vulnerability—financial, emotional
  • Prefer small physical size, lack of physical strength or skill
Question 19.08

According to research by Malamuth, rapists tend to share all of the following qualities except:

A

Prefer hooking up, not relationship.

B

Positive response to sex aggressive porn.

C

Misogyny – negative attitudes about females.

D

Lower IQs.


Question 19.09

Which of the following is an example of a way in which rapists typically overcome external inhibitions to rape?

A

Belonging to groups where there is perceived social support and tolerance for rape.

B

Endorsing the belief that rape is “private,” “personal,” “family business” and not to be judged by others.

C

Endorsing dysfunctional male gender beliefs such as "boys will be boys".

D

All of the above

19.4.3 Social Learning Models - Rape Culture 

As described above, much of Malamuth's work focuses on the individual characteristics that differentiate rapists from non-rapists. To a large extent, however, the tendency for males to rape is something that they are "taught" to do, due to certain messages that permeate culture and society.

Figure 19.2. This picture was taken in Knoxville, Tennessee at a rally called "Slutwalk." This was one of many Slutwalk rallies held throughout 2011 around the world to raise awareness of issues pertaining to sexual assault. [2]

The concept of rape culture was first introduced by feminists who view rape as motivated by a man's desire to control and have power over a woman, and not by a desire for sex. It describes a setting where rape is pervasive and normalized by societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. Behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, slut shaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denying that rape is widespread, and refusing to acknowledge the harm caused by sexual violence (Herman, 1984). Research supports the idea that rape culture is largely fueled by the following three components:

  • Overly strict (dysfunctional) gender roles
  • Rape myths 
  • Sexual scripts

Gender role dysfunction describes very harmful and rigid ideas males develop about what it means to be a "man" versus a "woman." As discussed in Chapter Six, men and women are socialized to act and imitate gendered behavior in which men are dominant and strong and women are weak, dependent, and subordinate. Women are also taught that their self-worth is derived from their relationships with others and the successful nature of those relationships. Men are taught to separate sex from emotion and to be aggressive. To a certain extent, rape culture can be seen as encouraging extreme versions of these roles. Consider the following quote from sociologist Diana Russell: 

Males are trained from childhood to separate sexual desire from caring, respecting, liking or loving. One of the consequences of this training is that many men regard women as sexual objects, rather than as full human beings...[This view] predisposes men to rape. Even if women were physically stronger than men, it is doubtful that there would be many instances of female rapes of males. Female sexual socialization encourages females to integrate sex, affection and love and to be sensitive to what their partners want. (1984)

Rape myths involve negative and false beliefs that are widely and persistently held in which the victim of rape is blamed, and the perpetrator excused, based on traditional male-female roles and heteronormativity (Lonsway & Fitzgerald, 1994). Research suggests these myths fall into three categories: the female wanting it to happen; the female bringing it on herself via clothing, drinking, dancing; or the female exaggerating the event or making up the event (Koss et al., 1994). For example, the notion that a female who is wearing tight clothing, or drinking alcohol is automatically looking to "hook up" or "have sex" is one example of a rape myth that is commonly reported, especially on college campuses (Maurer & Robinson, 2007). People who accept rape myths are less likely to blame the perpetrator and more likely to hold victims responsible for their own victimization. 

Malamuth's work shows the tendency for rape myths—e.g., media portrayals of women enjoying instances of aggressive, non-consensual sex—to cause men to be more accepting of rape. In one study, for example, males who read a scene that portrayed victims as becoming sexually aroused (versus disgusted) during non-consensual sex (a common rape myth) were more likely to believe that a victim experienced pleasure during a subsequent rape portrayal (Malamuth & Check, 1985). In sum, media contributes to males' acceptance of rape myths and violence against women when media depicts sexual aggression against women in a positive light.

In addition to gender role dysfunction and rape myths, sexual scripts are also an important aspect of rape culture (Gagnon, 2012). Sexual scripts describe the expected ways in which females, as opposed to males, are expected to act in sexual situations. The main sexual script that supports rape culture is one in which females are expected to be sexual gatekeepers who are not allowed to initiate a sexual encounter, but are expected to resist sexual advances regardless of their own desires. Consider the following quote from New York Times columnist, Jessica Bennett:

And what about the larger cultural framework? How do you tackle these concepts in a world where women are empowered to say yes—but taught that they must be coy when they do it? When they’ve been socialized to think that “yes” means you’re a slut, “maybe” means you’re a tease, and “no” means you’re a prude—or that, from the male perspective, as one friend recently put it, “no is always negotiable”? (Jessica Bennett, 1/9/16, The New York Times)

Finally, no discussion of rape culture would be complete without a mention of alcohol. Research suggests that men tend to perceive women who drink in bars as being sexually promiscuous and using alcohol to signal sexual readiness (Abbey, 2002). Research also finds that men expect to feel more powerful and sexually aggressive while drinking, but they tend to view women who drink as more sexually available and powerless (Leigh, 1990). Other research finds that alcohol interacts with rape culture and heightens the impact of dysfunctional gender roles, rape myths and sexual scripts (Cowley, 2014). Alcohol thus clearly contributes to the high incidence of sexual assault on college campuses. 

​Take a look at the following clip which shows some examples of advertisements that have been criticized for perpetuating rape culture.


Question 19.10

The notion that a female who dresses in tight clothes and enjoys drinking and dancing at bars is "asking" to be raped is an example of:

A

A rape myth.

B

Dysfunctional gender roles.

C

A sexual script.

D

An internal inhibitor.


Question 19.11

What do you think of the ads presented in the clip above? Which one do you think is most offensive in its exemplification of rape culture and why?

19.5 Sexual Assault on College Campuses 

​In this spotlight story, Kinley Dowling discusses her experience of sexual assault. She is a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. While she’s well known as a member of Newfoundland’s indie ensemble Hey Rosetta!, she’s also an emerging singer-songwriter and recently released her solo debut album letters never sent as Kinley in October 2016. For more about her music and life click here. Her music has helped her deal with her experience of sexual assault and raise awareness for others. 

​Please note, this audio recording contains a first-person account of a sexual assault and may be difficult for some people to hear.

Question 19.12

Question 19.12

Discuss your reaction to this story.

Question 19.13

Question 19.13

Discuss the challenges associated with reporting sexual assault and prosecuting perpetrators.

Question 19.14

Question 19.14

What is your reaction to four of six of Kinley’s friends experiencing sexual assault?

Sexual assault on college campuses is a national problem. According to one study, 21% of students told researchers they had been sexually assaulted since the beginning of college. Most campus rapes occur after 6:00pm in the victim's own residence. Usually, the perpetrator is a classmate, friend, ex-boyfriend or acquaintance. Alcohol is often a factor. Research suggests that at least half of these incidents involve alcohol use and that the majority of rapes of college females occur when the victim is too intoxicated to resist (“incapacitated rape”) (Kilpatrick et al., 2007). In another study, it was found that in two-thirds of college campus rapes, the male perpetrator was intoxicated (Frintner & Rubinson, 2015). 

Members of fraternities and collegiate sports teams have an especially worrisome record as sexual offenders. In March 2016, for example, Brock Turner, a Stanford swimmer, was found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster after a fraternity party. Turner faced a maximum of 16 years in prison, but instead was sentenced to only six, sparking public outcry. Later, a statement from the victim was read aloud on the floor of Congress. In another example, University of Florida football player Antonio Callaway was accused of sexual assault. He was initially suspended from the team, but later cleared by the university which assigned a football booster (donor) to adjudicate the case. 

In 2015 a documentary film entitled The Hunting Ground was released, detailing the incidence of sexual assault on U.S. college campuses and what its creators say is a failure of college administrations to deal with it adequately. The documentary focuses on Annie Clark and Andrea Pino, two former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students, who filed a Title IX complaint against UNC in response to their rapes while enrolled. The use of Title IX in campus sexual assault cases has become a model for victims at universities across the country. Below is the official trailer to the movie:

In 2011, in an effort to address the problem, Obama’s Department of Education (DOE) issued what became known as the “Dear Colleague” letter, advising universities to apply a “preponderance of the evidence” standard when adjudicating these cases. Essentially, the DOE warned that if sexual assault cases were not prosecuted more vigorously, universities would lose their funding under Title IX which prohibits schools from practicing gender discrimination. Since the introduction of this policy, there have been 451 investigations of colleges for mishandling reports of sexual violence. Of these, 351 cases remained open as of November 2017. For an overview of both active and resolved Title IX sexual assault investigations, please visit this webpage.

The policies put in place by the Obama administration have not gone uncriticized, particularly among those who believe that the rights of those who are accused have not been adequately protected. As one defender of men accused of sexual misconduct said, “The vast majority of campus sexual assault cases involve a lot of alcohol and no witnesses, so you essentially have two people who were probably drinking trying to recall events that may have happened weeks, months, or even years before,” Related views were also articulated in a 2014 letter from 28 Harvard Law School professors urging the revision of policies adopted by the university in response to the Obama administration's "Dear Colleague" letter. The professors argued that:

  • "Harvard has adopted procedures for deciding cases of alleged sexual misconduct which lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process, are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused, and are in no way required by Title IX law or regulation.
  • Harvard has inappropriately expanded the scope of forbidden conduct, including by:
    • ■ Adopting a definition of sexual harassment that goes significantly beyond Title IX and Title VII law.
    • ■ Adopting rules governing sexual conduct between students both of whom are impaired or incapacitated, rules which are starkly one-sided as between complainants and respondents, and entirely inadequate to address the complex issues in these unfortunate situations involving extreme use and abuse of alcohol and drugs by our students."

The debate surrounding how sexual assault on college campuses should be handled has become largely politicized. Republicans are more likely to believe these college cases should be handled exclusively by the criminal justice system. Democrats, including most victims’-rights activists, adamantly oppose this idea, pointing out that only a tiny fraction of sexual assaults reported to the police are ever taken on by a prosecutor. Currently, the Republicans seem to be winning the argument. In September 2017, the Department of Education, led by Betsy DeVos (appointed by Trump), revoked Obama's policy and put forward interim guidelines on how college sexual assault cases should be handled. The most notable change came in the guidelines that colleges are now advised to use when determining guilt of perpetrators. Instead of only requiring "a preponderance of evidence" in order to decide whether a student is responsible for sexual assault, colleges are now free to abandon that standard and raise it to a higher standard known as “clear and convincing evidence.” Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California system and a Homeland Security secretary in the Obama administration, said in a statement that the department’s announcement would “in effect weaken sexual violence protections, prompt confusion among campuses about how best to respond to reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment, and unravel the progress that so many schools have made.”

The following article, Is There a Smarter Way to Think About Sexual Assault on Campus?, appeared in the February 12th & 19th, 2018 issue of the New Yorker, and describes a research program at Columbia University that aims to find ways that making small changes in campus life could lessen the incidence rate of campus sexual assault. Read the article and then answer the following questions:

Question 19.15

Describe the premise of SHIFT. What are the program's researchers hoping to find? In your opinion, do you think such a program has a chance of successfully reducing campus sexual assault or do you think it ignores the larger issue articulated by Emma Sulkowicz? Can you think of ways in which campus life at your own university could be tweaked to make sexual assault less likely?

19.5.1 Definitions of Sexual Consent 

The prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses has sparked a national conversation about the best way to determine the presence of sexual consent. Historically, most legal definitions hinged on a "no means no" interpretation, meaning that only a communicated "no" indicates a person does not want to engage in sexual activity, and that the absence of a response therefore indicates a "yes," i.e., sexual consent. Several states have recently revised this definition by enacting so-called "yes means yes" laws. From a "yes means yes" standpoint, sexual activity is only consensual if both people have willingly and consciously communicated their willingness to participate in the sexual activity. Under this standard, the absence of a "yes," expressed as a lack of resistance, for example, does not constitute consent. So far both California and Michigan have passed "yes means yes" laws. According to the California law: "'Affirmative consent' means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity…Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent." 

Although the need for affirmative consent is largely agreed upon, there still exists a debate concerning whether a "yes," needs to be verbally given, or if one's actions (a smile, a returned passionate kiss, taking the lead in the behavior, etc.) are enough. On the one hand, critics argue that verbal consent makes unwitting rapists every time a person has sex without obtaining an explicit “yes” from their partner. On the other hand, relying solely on nonverbal cues can lead to misunderstanding and leaves campus tribunals in the position of trying to answer murky and confusing questions about which actions constitute affirmative consent.

Question 19.16

It's tempting to think that granting sexual consent verbally is strange or awkward, but it really doesn't need to be. Simply asking a person, "are you good with this?" or "does this feel good?" are two simple ways, for example. Can you think of some others? :)

19.6 Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)

The World Health Organization(WHO) defines intimate partner violence as "...any behavior within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological or sexual harm to those in the relationship, including acts of physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviors." Studies suggest that both men and women can be abusers or victims of intimate partner violence (McNeely et al., 2001). Women are more likely to act violently in retaliation or self-defense and tend to engage in less severe forms of violence than men. Men, in contrast, are more likely than women to commit long-term cycles of abuse. 

According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, in the U.S. more than 27% of women and 11% of men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. According to one study, 14% of men had performed at least one act of physical abuse, and 35% had perpetrated acts of emotional abuse. 

Intimate partner violence occurs in heterosexual as well as homosexual relationships (Renzetti, 1992). According to the NIPSVS, among women who experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking in the context of an intimate relationship, the majority of bisexual and heterosexual women (89.5% and 98.7%, respectively) reported only male perpetrators, while 67.4% of self-identified lesbians reported having only female perpetrators. Many lesbian women, in particular, describe the crushing sensation of first experiencing the assault by their partners, and subsequently feeling betrayed by a lesbian community which tends to deny the problem when victims seek help.

According to the NIPSVS, among men who experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in the context of an intimate relationship, most bisexual and heterosexual men (78.5% and 99.5%, respectively) reported having only female perpetrators, while the majority of self-reported gay men (90.7%) reported having only male perpetrators. Again, this highlights two unrecognized facts in western culture; the first that men are frequently victims of sexual abuse, and the second that women are often the perpetrators.

Question 19.17

Which of the following concerning Intimate Partner Violence is false?

A

Mostly only females are victims of IPV.

B

Mostly only males are perpetrators of IPC.

C

IPV is a problem that mostly only affects heterosexual couples.

D

All of the above are false

19.6.1 Types of Intimate Partner Violence ("IPV")

As mentioned, the majority of victims of injury-related violence are heterosexual women. Nevertheless, men and women in heterosexual relationships commit acts of physical aggression in approximately equal numbers. In a study, the researchers described four types of violence between intimates (Johnson & Ferraro, 2000).

  • Violent resistance is primarily defensive or reactive on the part of the victim, usually a woman. Many theorists propose that the reason statistics show equal numbers of women and men committing IPV is because women are more likely to be engaging in violent resistance (a.k.a. "self-defense.")
  • Common couple violence arises in the context of a specific argument in which one or both of the partners lash out physically at the other. This type of violence has a lower per-couple frequency, is not as likely to escalate over time, is not as likely to involve severe violence, and is more likely to be mutual. It also does not involve the control tactics which are integral to intimate terrorism.
  • Intimate terrorism is primarily perpetrated by men against women, but can also occur in same-sex relationships. Violence is used as part of a general pattern of control over one's partner. It usually escalates over time, is not mutual, and is more likely to involve serious injury. It involves the type of emotional abuse that can gradually alter women's views of themselves, their relationships, and their place in the world. Women frequently become demoralized and trapped in these types of abusive relationships. 
  • Mutual violent control (a.k.a. mutual self-destruction) is a pattern in which both partners are controlling and violent; the pattern can be viewed as two intimate terrorists battling for control. This pattern is rarer than the other categories of violence described above, and has not been the subject of as much research. 
Question 19.18

According to research, most instances of violence in intimate relationships are:

A

Common couple violence.

B

Benign.

C

Self-defense.

D

Mutual violent control.


Question 19.19

_________ is primarily perpetrated by men against women but can also occur in same-sex relationships. Violence is used as part of a general pattern of control over one's partner. It usually escalates over time, is not mutual, and is more likely to involve serious injury.

A

Common couple violence

B

Intimate terrorism

C

Violence resistance

D

Mutual self-destruction

19.6.2 Cycle of Abuse

Intimate terrorism tends to follow an upward spiral of escalating violence that progresses through different stages. This cycle is commonly referred to as the cycle of abuse and helps to explain why so many women in particular get trapped in abusive relationships. 

  • Tension-building phase (weeks)—abuser is moody, suspicious, commits minor assaults; victim tries to appease abuser
  • Violent Incident—abuser commits major assault; victim fights back, tries to flee, calls police
  • Reconciliation phase (months)—abuser tries to make amends, declares love; victim recants charges to police, lies about the cause of injury
  • Calm—incident is forgotten, no abuse taking place, "the honeymoon phase"

Each time the cycle is repeated it tends to become shorter. Eventually, violence may occur weekly/daily as it grows more intense over time.

Figure 19.3. Cycle of Abuse.​


Question 19.20

Match the phase of abuse with its correct description.

Premise
Response
1

Tension-building phase

A

Abuser is moody and suspicious and commits minor assaults; victim tries to appease abuser.

2

Violent incident

B

Abuser commits major assault; victim fights back or tries to flee or calls police.

3

Reconciliation phase

C

Abuser tries to make amends and declares love; victim recants charges to police and lies about cause of injury.

4

Calm

D

Incident is forgotten; no abuse taking place; "the honeymoon phase".

19.6.3 Why Do Victims Stay in Abusive Relationships?

The psychology of why victims remain in relationships is complex. Domestic violence, specifically intimate terrorism, causes many victims to experience depression and self-loathing. Victims of domestic abuse are more likely to experience substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder. Many experience battered spouse syndrome, a pattern of learned helplessness in which the victim no longer attempts to flee (Walker, 2017). Victims often give the following reasons for not leaving:

  • Shame—believe it is their fault, that they deserve this treatment
  • Social isolation—believe no one will help
  • Sanctity of marriage—believe it is wrong to abandon spouse or take children from their home.
  • Economic dependence—fear economic hardship for self/child
  • Fear of retribution—fear abuser will pursue, punish or kill them or children
  • Learned helplessness—victim becomes physically and emotionally debilitated. Loses the will or capacity to act.
Question 19.21

A pattern of learned helplessness in which the victim of intimate partner violence ceases attempts to flee is called:


19.7 Sexual Harassment Is About Power 

Figure 19.4. A conversation between President Donald Trump and Billy Bush in 2005.​

From a legal standpoint, in the U.S. (EEOC) sexual harassment is defined as follows:

"Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment."

Psychologists have adopted a somewhat broader definition which emphasizes the victim's experience (Fitzgerald et al., 1997). According to this more socio-psychological definition, sexual harassment is: “unwanted sex-related behavior at work that is appraised by the recipient as offensive, exceeding her resources, or threatening her well-being.” Research suggests that rather than being motivated by sexual desire, sexual harassment mostly reflects an attempt to achieve power over another person. 

What exactly makes a person likely to commit sexual harassment? In 1987, psychologist John Pryor developed the “Likelihood to Sexually Harass” scale which is now commonly used in research on sexual harassers (Pryor, 1987). The test consists of 10 scenarios where one is asked to report how they would respond in a situation that could lead to sexual harassment. (To take a shortened version of this test, click on the link here.) Using this scale, Pryor and others found that the following factors are the most distinctive in harassers (Pryor & Meyers, 2000): 

  • A lack of empathy
  • An inability to take the less powerful person's perspective (Galinsky et al., 2006)
  • A belief in traditional gender sex roles
  • A tendency toward dominance/authoritarianism
  • A tendency to associate dominance and power with sex (Pryor & Stoller, 1994)

In addition, studies suggest that environmental factors also play a huge role. In other words, if you put men who are prone to sexually harass in an environment where they think they can get away with it, they are much more likely sexually harass (Pryor et al., 1995). Being in a position of power also makes people more likely to harass. Research suggests that power makes people more impulsive, less concerned with social conventions and less focused on how their actions impact others (Popovich & Warren, 2010). In one study, subjects who were made to feel more "upper class" were more likely to take candy from children without blinking an eye (Galinsky et al., 2006). Power also makes people more focused on themselves, more likely to objectify others and more likely to overestimate how much others like them. For example, in one experiment, researchers took 78 adults and paired them with a member of the opposite sex (Kuntsman & Maner, 2010). Those pairs were next told to complete a Lego-building project, with one person put in charge of the other. In private interviews at the end of the project, those who were appointed leaders were much more likely to have perceived sexual interest from their subordinates, even when the subordinate indicated in the surveys that they had no sexual interest at all. Further, when researchers examined videos of most pairs interacting, they found that the leaders were much more likely to act on their misperceptions by touching their subordinate's leg or engaging in eye gazing.

Another explanation for why sexual harassment occurs takes the position that it is a way of punishing women who violate gender roles. Gender harassment is a form of hostile environment harassment that appears to be motivated by hostility toward individuals who violate gender ideals rather than by desire for those who meet them. This is supported by studies that show that females who violate traditional gender roles by acting assertive, confident, and dominant are more likely to be harassed than those who acted more in line with feminine ideals (Berdahl, 2007). It is also supported by evidence that women who work in male-dominated industries are more likely to be sexually harassed than men in those industries and by women in female-dominated industries. This has been found to be true in both college and work environments.

Question 19.22

The theory that sexual harassment is motivated by the perpetrator's desire to enact power of their victim is supported by which finding?

A

Women who dress and act in a feminine way are more likely to be sexually harassed than those who do not.

B

Women who violate traditional gender norms and act more aggressive and assertive in the workplace are more likely to be harassed than those who do not.

C

Men with higher sex drives are more likely to harass women than those who do not.

D

Women with high sex drives are more likely to be harassed than those who do not.


19.7.1 Types of Workplace Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace assumes three main forms. Quid pro quo harassment is arguably the most obvious form of sexual harassment, as it involves the suggestion, whether implicit or explicit, that granting sexual favors will lead to certain tangible rewards. A huge number of quid pro quo harassment claims involving major public figures have come to light lately. In October 2014, a 30-year pattern of abuse by producer/Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein was exposed revealing his sexual harassment of over 40 women. 

Figure 19.5. Producer Harvey Weinstein. [3]​

“Everyone knew these stories,” one Hollywood publicist said. “Not the specifics. But people knew it was a hostile work environment, and that he was a bully to people. Because he could win you an Oscar, we were all supposed to look the other way.”

Since the Weinstein case, a flood of new allegations made against other powerful men in various industries (Actors Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Ben Affleck, media personalities Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Mark Halperin, Glenn Thrush) and government office (Senator Al Franken, Representative John Conyers Jr., Senator Roy S. Moore, California Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra) have come to light. This has in turn spawned the #metoo social media movement, enabling thousands of women to find strength and comfort by sharing their stories and bringing to light just how common sexual harassment is. The #metoo movement took center stage at the 2018 Oscars. 

Hostile-environment harassment involves a pattern of unwelcome sexual attention that makes life difficult for the victim. It is harder to prosecute since it involves more general behaviors versus an explicit deal or threat. Perpetrators have tried, sometimes successfully, to claim that their words and actions are protected under 1st amendment laws protecting free speech. This was the case, for example, after a federal investigation was launched in response to a 26-page complaint filed by 16 Yale students in 2012. The complaint was in response to a video released online that showed Yale fraternity recruits yelling chants encouraging rape as they marched through campus. The complaint also followed reports of a party in which undergraduate students were allegedly asked to strip naked.

Compared to quid pro quo sexual harassment, hostile-environment harassment can be harder to pin down. This doesn't make it any less pernicious, however. Offenders may use sexual jokes or behaviors in an effort to intimidate or belittle their victim. Often times, this is done under the guise of flirtation or flattery so that victims feel less able to take a stand against it. The video below is from David Schwimmer's sexual harassment series, "That's Harassment," and shows a realistic scene of sexual harassment. For more from the series, click on this link.

Sometimes, employees are not the target of sexual harassment themselves, but suffer by losing out on opportunities (promotions, pay, etc) granted to those employees who are. Such employees also suffer by having their work environment generally degraded. This is called third-party sexual harassment. 


Question 19.23

Match the type of sexual harassment with its correct description.

Premise
Response
1

Quid pro quo

A

Employees are not the target of sexual harassment themselves but suffer by losing out on opportunities (promotions pay etc) granted to those employees who are.

2

Hostile work environment

B

The most obvious form of sexual harassment as it involves the suggestion that granting sexual favors will lead to certain tangible rewards.

3

Third party

C

A pattern of unwelcome sexual attention that makes life difficult for the victim.

19.7.2 Sexual Harassment Affects Children, Too

Sexual harassment often begins early, with some studies finding that approximately half of children between ages 7 and 12 experience some form of sexual harassment during the school year. The most common types of sexual harassment that children experience takes the form of unwelcome sexual jokes, comments or gestures, being called 'gay' or 'lesbian' in a negative way and being shown sexually suggestive pictures against one's will. Other less common types of sexual harassment that children still do sometimes experience include unwelcome sexual touch, being physically intimidated in a sexual way, being forced to look at a person's genitals, being forced to do something sexual or having unwanted sexual material sent to you or posted about you.

Other major findings regarding sexual harassment in U.S. public schools: 

  • Girls are more likely than boys to experience sexual harassment (83% versus 30%).
  • Three-quarters of students (76%) experience nonphysical sexual harassment at some point in their school lives, more than half (54%) often or occasionally.
  • 6 in 10 students (58%) experience physical sexual harassment at some point in their school lives, one-third (32%) often or occasionally. 
  • One-third (32%) of students are afraid of being sexually harassed. Girls are more than twice as likely as boys.

Thankfully, schools are starting to be more aware of sexual harassment in school, mostly due to legal cases that have been successfully brought forth by students. Here is one recent example involving a student/advisee relationship at Princeton University. 

Figure 19.6. Sexual Harassment frequently affects students in school settings. [4]


Question 19.24

Have you anyone you've ever known experienced sexual harassment ever as a student? Was the situation reported? How did it make you feel?

19.8 Stalking

A stalker is a person who is emotionally obsessed with a particular victim. Stalkers repeatedly frighten their victims by following them, harassing them, waiting in places for them where they know they will be, making phone calls to them and vandalizing their property. Cyberstalking, which is stalking that takes place over the internet is a type of stalking.

According to the NISVS, 16% of U.S. women and 5% of men report that they have been the victim of some kind of stalking. There are three main types of stalking:

Intimate partner stalking: In these cases, the stalker is a current or former boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse. Oftentimes, the stalking begins to occur before the relationship has ended, and is an expression of suspicion and desire for control. Other times it begins after a rejection has occurred, in an effort to see if the victim truly means to go through with the breakup. Many of these types of stalkers engage in obsessive thinking and have tendencies toward exploitation and coercion. 

Delusional stalking: This type of stalker has the delusional belief that the victim is either in love with them or would fall in love with them if they were simply to meet. Celebrities are at particularly high risk for delusional stalking.

Grudge stalking: This type of stalker is pursuing the victim as a means of revenge for either an imagined or actual injury. Grudge stalking is the least likely to be sexual or romantic in nature. It usually involves co-workers, employers, etc. 

The following table is a summary of data from the NISVS and shows a break down of the types of stalking that men and women most often report.

Table 19.1. Types of stalking that are most often reported. ​


Question 19.25

Match the type of stalking with its proper description.

Premise
Response
1

Intimate partner stalking

A

Stalker is often a current or former boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse. Stalking is an expression of suspicion and desire for control.

2

Delusional stalking

B

Stalker maintains belief that victim would fall in love with them if they could only just meet.

3

Grudge stalking

C

Stalking that occurs over the Internet.

4

Cyberstalking

D

Usually done for non-romantic reasons and purely as a form of maintaining control over someone they think has wronged them.

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19.9 References

Baker, C. N. (2008). The womens movement against sexual harassment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Burgess, A. W., & Holmstrom, L. L. (1974). Rape Trauma Syndrome. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 131(9), 981-986.

Denov, M. S. (2004). Perspectives on female sex offending: a culture of denial. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

Eriksson, M (2013). "Tackling violence in intimacy: interaction power relations and policy change." Current Sociology61(2): 171-189.

Follingstad, D. R., Rutledge, L. L., Berg, B. J., Hause, E. S., & Polek, D. S. (1990). The role of emotional abuse in physically abusive relationships. Journal of Family Violence, 5(2), 107-120.

Franklin, C. A. (2008). Sorority affiliation and rape-supportive environments: The institutionalization of sexual assault victimization through vulnerability-enhancing attitudes and behaviors (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Washington State University, Pullman. 

Freedman, E. B. (2013). Redefining rape: sexual violence in the era of suffrage and segregation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Groth, N. A. (1979). Men who rape: the psychology of the offender (p.227). New York, NY: Plenum Press.

Hackett, J. M., & Saucier, D. A. (2015). A systematic literature review of "rape victims" versus "rape survivors": Implications for theory, research, and practice. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 25, 1-14.

Hill, C., & Silva, E. M. (2006). Drawing the line: sexual harassment on campus. Washington, DC: American Association of University Women Educational Foundation.

Holtzworth-Munroe, A. (2005). Male Versus Female Intimate Partner Violence: Putting Controversial Findings Into Context. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67(5), 1120-1125.

​​Hostile hallways: bullying, teasing, and sexual harassment in school. (2002). Washington, DC: American Association of University Women Educational Foundation.

Johnson, M. P. (2005). Domestic violence: it's not about gender: or is it? Journal of Marriage and Family, 67(5), 1126-1130.

Mckibbin, W. F., Shackelford, T. K., Goetz, A. T., & Starratt, V. G. (2008). Why do men rape? An evolutionary psychological perspective. Review of General Psychology, 12(1), 86-97.

Walker, L. E. (1979). The battered woman. New York, NY: Harper and Row.


19.10 Answer to Discussion Questions

Answer to Question 19.12

Answers will vary


Answer to Question 19.13

Answers may include fear of reprisal, knowing the perpetrator, trauma after incident, low rates of conviction, embarrassment, stigma and more.


Answer to Question 19.14

Answers may vary, but may include surprise/shock at the high rates of sexual assault among young women. Others may be aware of the high rates based on their experience. Should comment on lack of discussion of sexual assault among peers given high prevalence.


19.9 Image Credits

[1] Image courtesy of Eleifert under CC BY-SA 3.0.

[2] Image courtesy of BrineStans under CC BY 3.0

[3]Image courtesy of David Shankbone under CC BY 3.0.

[4] Image courtesy of Namkota under CC BY-SA 4.0.