The Relationship Between Attitudes Toward Women, Rape Myth Acceptance, and Sexual Coercive Experiences of Male and Female Students at Religious and Public Colleges

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Jorgensen, Lennard Allan
Counseling Psychology; Family, Life Course, and Society; Gender and Sexuality; Higher Education
thesis / dissertation description
Problem. The purpose of this study was to find the prevalence of sexual coercion and to explore relationships between sexual coercion, attitudes toward women, and rape myth acceptance of men and women on Seventh-day Adventist and public college campuses.Method. Three scales furnished scores for sexual coercive experiences, attitudes toward women, and rape myth acceptance. Multiple- and step-wise regression analyses were used to discover relationships between attitudes toward women, rape myth acceptance, and religious affiliation, college affiliation and sexual coercion. One-way analysis of variance was used to analyze the influence of age, religious affiliation, college affiliation, religion, type of coercion, and admitting coercion on attitudes toward women and rape myth acceptance.A total of 893 freshman and sophomore students was used in the final analysis.Results. Half as many SDA females reported being date/acquaintance raped as Protestant, Catholic, and no-religion groups. More SDA females reported being sexually molested before age 14 than did nonSDA females.For the male, female, and complete samples, religious and college affiliation were the strongest predictors for verbal, physical, and any coercion. The only exception was rape myth acceptance which more strongly predicted male physical perpetration.While all the female groups scored toward the nontraditional end of the AWS, SDA females were more traditional than were nonSDA females. Noncoerced females were more traditional than were verbally coerced females.Males who admitted perpetrating sexual coercion more strongly accepted rape myths than did nonperpetrators.Conclusions. Patriarchy within the SDA community seems to account for many of the traditional attitudes toward women which SDA women reported.SDA environments tend to be more "closed," and public environments more "open," which may account for less rape reported by SDA females. Furthermore, SDA females are socialized to be sexually avoidant. A "closed" environment with more patriarchy and sexual repression may create both sexual frustration and opportunity to sexually molest minors. Religious and college affiliation were barriers to sexual coercion in a "closed" SDA context.Finally, patriarchy, in the form of rape myths, still impacts male socialization, especially in those who physically perpetrate and admit perpetration.