I Never Called it Rape - by Robin Warshaw

Date: Sat, 1 Oct 1994 16:59:55 -0400 (EDT) From: PNEWS

[PNEWS.D] From: Deb Zaccone "Wild-womyn" [Originally from: ug241@freenet.Victoria.BC.CA (Karen Gordon)] (from: I Never Called it Rape - by Robin Warshaw):

The socialized 'deafness' of men toward women, and the likelihood that a man will interpret a situation to have stronger sexual overtones than a woman will - leads to the belief among many men (and some women) in 'justifiable rape', somewhat along the lines of 'justifiable homicide'.

In 'justifiable rape', the victim's behavior is seen as being responsible for triggering the man's action. Although there is no legal concept as there is in 'justifiable homicide', the idea of 'justifiable rape' influences the opinions of everyone from the rape victim's own family to the jury who may sit in judgment of her attacker.

Recent studies show that men believe date rape is more justifiable if one of these circumstances occurs:

: the woman invites the man out on the date : the man pays for the date : she dresses 'suggestively' : they go to his place rather than to a movie : she drinks alcohol or does drugs

Men with traditional attitudes toward women rate these situations as justifying rape significantly more often than do men who hold nontraditional attitudes.

The research also shows that many times men will feel 'led on' while women will not have the slightest clue that their actions are being interpreted as sexual.

IN A 1967 study by Purdue's Eugene Kanin, sexually aggressive college men said they believed their aggression was justified if the woman was 'a tease'. A 1979 survey of California high school boys showed 54% thought rape was justifiable if the girl 'leads a boy on'.

In a study exploring correlations between people who rated rape as justifiable under certain circumstances and people who actually were involved in sexually aggressive incidents, Texas A&M's Muehlenhard found that men were much more likely than women to say that the woman had hinted before- hand that she wanted the man to ask her out.

When she looked at just those subjects whose dates involved sexual aggression, Muehlenhard saw this difference in high relief:

60% of men reported that the woman had hinted she was interested in dating him; only 16% of the women said they had so hinted.

Those men clearly felt 'led on' by the women who refused them sex, a feeling which many of them may have regarded as justification for committing rape.

Go Back to Shy David's Sexual Assault Page.