Real men can't get raped: an examination of gendered rape myths and sexual assault among undergraduates

Date09 October 2017
Published date09 October 2017
AuthorCristina L. Reitz-Krueger,Sadie J. Mummert,Sara M. Troupe
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression, conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology, policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
Real men cant get raped: an examination
of gendered rape myths and sexual
assault among undergraduates
Cristina L. Reitz-Krueger, Sadie J. Mummert and Sara M. Troupe
Purpose While awareness of sexual assaults on college campuses has increased, the majority of efforts
to address it are focused on female victims. The relative neglect of male victims may be due in part to
problematic rape myths that suggest men cannot be sexually assaulted, especially by women. The purpose
of this paper is to compare rates of different types of sexual assault between male and female
undergraduates, and explore the relationship between acceptance of traditional rape myths focused on
female victims, and rape myths surrounding male victims.
Design/methodology/approach Students at a mid-sized university in Pennsylvania (n ¼526) answered
an online questionnaire about their own experiences of sexualassault since coming to college, as well as their
endorsement of male and female rape myths.
Findings While women experienced more sexual assault overall, men were just as likely to have
experienced rape (i.e. forced penetration) or attempted rape. Acceptance of male and female rape myths was
significantly correlated and men were more likely than women to endorse both. Participants were also more
likely to endorse female than male rape myths.
Research limitations/implications By analyzingsexual assaults in terms of distinct behaviors instead of
one compositescore, the authorscan get a more nuanced pictureof how men and women experienceassault.
Practical implications Campus-based efforts to address sexual assault need to be aware that male students
also experience assault and that myths surrounding men as victims may impede their ability to access services.
Originality/value This paper contributes to our knowledge of a relatively understudied topic:
undergraduate male victims of sexual assault.
Keywords Campus rape, College sexual assault, Rape myths, Male victims, Male survivors
Paper type Research paper
Since Koss et al. first sampled college students in the 1980s (e.g. Koss and Dinero, 1989), this
population has increasingly been targeted in examining the prevalence, precursors, and
sequelae of sexual victimization. Rates of sexual victimization on college campuses are
disturbingly high; sexual assault rates among college-aged women are four times that of women
of other age groups (Moreno, 2015). A 2015 study surveying 27 colleges and universities found
that 27.2 percent of the 150,000 female college seniors surveyed reported experiencing some
form of unwanted sexual contact (Cantor et al., 2015). While a great deal of much needed
knowledge has been generated concerning female victims, there is a relative dearth of
information about college men and their experiences as victims of sexual violence.
Though research consistently finds that women are more likely to experience sexual assault
than men (e.g. Banyard et al., 2007; Elliott et al., 2004), rates in men are not negligible.
Banyard et al. (2007) found approximately 8 percent of their male college student
sample reported unwanted sexual experiences (Banyard et al., 2007). In another study of
college students, Tewksbury and Mustaine (2001) found that approximately 22 percent of their
male sample self-r eported experie ncing some type of sex ual assault. Rates w ildly differ from
study to study depe nding on how sexual assault is operati onalized or frame d within the
broader study (Abbey et al., 2005; Peterson et al., 2011).
Received 2 June 2017
Accepted 14 July 2017
Revised 20 July 2017
Cristina L. Reitz-Krueger is a
Professor of Psychology at the
Department of Psychology,
Warren Wilson College,
Asheville, North Carolina, USA.
Sadie J. Mummert is an
Assistant Professor at the
Department of Criminology and
Criminal Justice, Indiana
University of Pennsylvania,
Indiana, Pennsylvania, USA.
Sara M. Troupe is a Clinical
Psychology Doctoral Student
at the College of Natural
Sciences and Mathematics,
Indiana University of
Pennsylvania, Indiana,
Pennsylvania, USA.
VOL. 9 NO. 4 2017, pp.314-323, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599 DOI 10.1108/JACPR-06-2017-0303

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