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Traditional Attitudes and Sexual assault

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Jun. 7th, 2007 | 09:00 am

McMullin et al (2007) draw what they frame as a startling conclusion from their 3 year study of undergraduate women with or without a history of sexual victimization. They found that victims displayed less positive feminine personality traits and more negative masculine personality traits than non-victims. McMullin et al state: "This is contrary to Muelenhard and Linton's (1987) suggestion that sexual victimization may lead to more traditional attitudes."

However, this does not appear to be the conclusion in Muelenhard and Linton's assessment of risk factors for date rape at all: "men who had engaged in [sexual assault] were more traditional than other men, whereas women who had experienced [sexual assault] were less traditional than other women." Anderson and Lyons (2005) found that although men were more likely to "blame the victim" than women in cases of sexual assault, this difference was mediated by acceptance of traditional gender roles. Howells et al (1984) also found that attitudes towards women was a good predictor of attitudes towards rape in both men and women.



I'm probably way off base here, but it doesn't surprise me that McMullin drew the same conclusion as Muelenhard and Linton. It seems unlikely to me that people who would be willing to discuss their sexual assault at three follow-up interviews would continue to blame themselves for the assault. While I wouldn't be surprised to see some reports of feelings of self-blaming or guilt from assault victims, I would expect to see far fewer reports of sexual assault among people who tended to blame themselves. It seems (to my completely unqualified eye) like this is a reporting question more than a causal one.

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Comments {6}

A Ferocious Urban Panther

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from: poeticalpanther
date: Jun. 7th, 2007 01:49 pm (UTC)
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Absolutely, I would agree, a reporting thing rather than a causal. I don't think I have overly traditional views of gender roles; I have been sexually assaulted three times, once as a child, once a date rape, once a stranger assault. None of them were ever reported to the police.

In my case, the reasons were these:

1) As a child: shame. My abuser told me it was my fault for being so attractive to him, and that if I told anyone he'd tell everyone how much I liked it. This came too close to my deep secret (this was within a year of my having gotten my period, a deep dark secret for a boy if you've ever heard one), and I shut down.

2) Date rape: I burned my assailant, with the cigarette lighter from his car, in his palm. I still don't like being close to barbecues. I didn't report because it was he-said/she-said, and again, if I reported, then the police would fairly quickly discover that it really *appeared* to be he-said/he-said, and again, I figured it was gonna end up *ugly* for me. No report.

3) Stranger: Assaulted on the street, choked unconscious, I was fortunate enough to gain the upper hand when I regained consciousness. I lost it, in a huge rage, and beat my attacker senseless; I know I felt his ribs give under my foot at least once. He was spitting blood when I left him. I didn't report because, again, when our identities were confirmed, I was quite afraid (for several years, *VERY* afraid) that he would report it as an assault - and who would believe the tranny freak? I'd end up in jail myself for beating him half to death. :/

So yes...no reporting, and for sometimes parallel reasons to those which most survivors report.

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The Difference Blog by Dan4th

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from: differenceblog
date: Jun. 7th, 2007 02:00 pm (UTC)
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*hugs* Thank you. While your assaults weren't reported, do you think you would have responded to a confidential survey that you had been assaulted? It seems like you weren't under any illusions that these hadn't been assaults, or that they were your fault, but that you had (probably reasonable, unfortunately) predictions of how badly things could turn out for you. So it wasn't that you didn't think you had a reasonable complaint, but that you thought it would be worse to complain than not to...

is that a correct reading?

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A Ferocious Urban Panther

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from: poeticalpanther
date: Jun. 7th, 2007 02:04 pm (UTC)
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In the latter two cases, I'd say yes. The last one certainly; the middle one...I like to think so, but I was 21, and I think I did have some feelings of "well, if you didn't want it, why were you dressed like that?", but it had two streams, as you can imagine - one for the true me, like any other girl, and one for the endangered public me.

The first one...no, I was quite sure that one was my fault. Not least because my abuser told me it was.

It interferes yet today; knowing how strong the link is between childhood sexual abuse and adult pedophilia, I find it difficult to be with someone who even has some characteristics of being physically childlike (i.e., if I sleep with someone shorter than about 5'6", I like them to have fairly obvious secondary sexual characteristics, so it's clear to my lizardbrain that "No, Cait, you are not abusing a child").

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A Ferocious Urban Panther

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from: poeticalpanther
date: Jun. 7th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC)
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If you're waiting for me to say no, expect a long wait. I happen to think you're a hottie. :D

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Dr. Ben Mack: Prominent User of the Internet

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from: epi_lj
date: Jun. 7th, 2007 03:06 pm (UTC)
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The part of this taht I keep tripping over isn't even the point of this post at all, but simply the phrase, "3 year study of undergraduate women with or without a history of sexual victimization." I understand what's being said here, but that wording itself makes it seem like being sexually assalted is a factor of the person who was assaulted rather than the person who assaulted them. It reads to me like "with or without a history of violent behaviour," or "with or without a history of cancer," or something like that.

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The Difference Blog by Dan4th

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from: differenceblog
date: Jun. 7th, 2007 03:13 pm (UTC)
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*nods* That is what it's like. What the study was trying to look at was how "having been assaulted" affects the way a young woman develops. A history of having been assaulted is not a factor of who they are as a person, but I do think it's worthwhile to try to determine if there's common personality threads among people wth a common experience.

Much as if you were doing a study on PTSD effects among people exposed to 9-11.

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