Academic journal article Journal of Mental Health Counseling

Gender Role Conflict, Homophobia, Age, and Education as Predictors of Male Rape Myth Acceptance

Academic journal article Journal of Mental Health Counseling

Gender Role Conflict, Homophobia, Age, and Education as Predictors of Male Rape Myth Acceptance

Article excerpt

The relationship of homophobia and gender role conflict to male rape myth acceptance was investigated using a sample of 210 adult men from a Midwestern community. A hierarchical multiple regression analysis was conducted to determine the ability of certain variables to predict adherence to male rape myths. Those variables were homophobia; success, power, and competition attitudes; restrictive affectionate behavior between men; restrictive emotionality; and conflicts between work and family relationships. Results indicated that greater adherence to rape myths was related to homophobia and more success, power, and competitive attitudes. Additionally, older participants and participants with lower levels of education were more likely to endorse greater adherence to rape myths. Implications of this research include the necessity for more research on male rape myth acceptance, for implementation of educational programs and changes in the socialization process to help dispel these myths, and for mental health counselors to provide unbiased and gender-responsive treatment modalities to male victims who seek help.

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Women and children have been the primary focus of research and societal intervention in the area of sexual assault (Anderson, 1999; Larimer, Lydum, Anderson, & Turner, 1999; Mitchell, Hirschman, & Hall, 1999; Washington, 1999). However, the crime of sexual assault is not limited to victimization of women and children. Increasingly, there is evidence that men are victims of sexual assault (Anderson; Isely & Gehrenbeck-Shim, 1997; Larimer et al.; Mitchell et al.; Washington), although there has been less professional attention directed toward male victims. Much of that literature has focused on assaults occurring in institutional settings (Isely, 1991; King, 1992) and assaults on male children and teens (Donnelly & Kenyon, 1996; King & Woollett, 1997; Richey-Suttles & Remer, 1997). Nonetheless, it appears that assaults against adult males, occurring outside of institutions, are much more prevalent than previously believed (Anderson; Mitchell et al.; Sorenson, Stein, Siegel, Golding, & Burnam, 1987).

Accurate estimates of the number of males who have been sexually assaulted are difficult to obtain for several reasons. First, only a few studies report the prevalence rate (i.e., overall rate of sexual assaults that have occurred in a population). Second, most studies report incidence rates (i.e., the number of new sexual assaults that have occurred in a specific time period), but these are not helpful in determining the frequency of occurrence. Although existing estimates indicate that 3% to 16% of all men will become a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime (Struckman-Johnson, 1988; U.S. Department of Justice, 2002), only 1 in 10 male rapes is likely to be reported to the police (Calderwood, 1987). Based on the U.S. Department of Justice crime estimates for 2001, approximately 22,930 males above the age of 12 were reported victims of rape or attempted rape. In interpreting these estimates, it is important to remember that the majority of male rapes go unreported (Anderson, 1999; Mitchell et al., 1999). Indeed, sexual assaults on men are believed to be more underreported than assaults on women (Calderwood).

There are several reasons, some of which are perpetuated by false, stereotypical beliefs about male sexual assault (male rape myths), for why males choose not to report their victimization to authorities or to hospital or treatment facilities. First, men may anticipate that law enforcement personnel will not believe that a crime occurred, will believe that the male victim asked for the rape, or will question the victim's sexuality (Scarce, 1997; Washington, 1999). Second, socioculturally influenced gender stereotypes impact males' reporting of sexual assaults. For example, reporting requires that the male victim deal with the male role expectation of being able to defend against sexual assault (Anderson, 1982; McMullen, 1990; Perrott & Webber, 1996; Struckman-Johnson & Struckman-Johnson, 1992). …

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