Study: Some men have a distorted understanding of rape

Nearly one third of men said they would engage in forcible sex but wouldn’t consider it rape.

Prof. Sarah Edwards interviewed 86 men about their general feelings toward women, their masculinity, and their likelihood to participate in certain sexual behaviors.

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of North Dakota found that some male students have a distorted understanding of rape.

Sarah Edwards, an assistant professor of counseling psychology at UND, interviewed 86 heterosexual male students about their general feelings toward women, self-described degree of masculinity, and likelihood to participate in certain sexual behaviors “if nobody would ever know and there wouldn’t be any consequences.”

According to the results, 31.7 percent of respondents said they have had “intentions to force a woman [into] sexual intercourse.” At the same time, 86 percent of the same male students said they have no “intentions to rape a woman.”

“Men who indicate intentions to use force but deny intentions to rape exhibit a unique disposition featuring an inverse construct of hostility toward women but high levels of callous sexual attitudes,” Edwards wrote in her disquisition on the survey, “Denying Rape but Endorsing Forceful Intercourse.”

According to Edwards, such behavior is closely associated with hypermasculinity—the noticeable accentuation of masculine traits such as strength, aggression, and an enhanced sexual appetite.

Edwards and her colleagues suggested that male students receive educational programming focused on “clarifying different behaviors that all constitute sexual assault, but do not follow the stereotypically imagined scenarios related to rape.”

Mandatory rape-prevention education for male students is a mediocre solution at best, according to Slate contributor Emily Yoffe.

Feminist activists and liberal pundits vilified Yoffe following a column she wrote in October 2013 suggesting that increased efforts to reduce female binge-drinking are essential to preventing rape.

“[I]’m disgusted at Slate editors for playing host to this vile line of thought, so commonly debunked for years, by feminists of many stripes,” wrote Lori Adelman on the popular feminist blog Feministing.

Despite the survey’s findings, Edwards warned against interpreting the study as a representation of the entire collegiate male population.

“The present study serves as initial investigation to examine how respondents who endorse behavioral descriptions of rape but deny rape when labeled as such outright differ from those who self-report intentions to rape and those who do not endorse any sexual coercion,” she wrote.

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