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Labeling Sexual Victimization Experiences: The Role of Sexism, Rape Myth Acceptance, and Tolerance for Sexual Harassment

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This study investigated whether attitudinal variables, such as benevolent and hostile sexism toward men and women, female rape myth acceptance, and tolerance of sexual harassment are related to women labeling their sexual assault experiences as rape. In a sample of 276 female college students, 71 (25.7%) reported at least one experience that met the operational definition of rape, although only 46.5% of those women labeled the experience "rape." Benevolent sexism, tolerance of sexual harassment, and rape myth acceptance, but not hostile sexism, significantly predicted labeling of previous sexual assault experiences by the victims. Specifically, those with more benevolent sexist attitudes toward both men and women, greater rape myth acceptance, and more tolerant attitudes of sexual harassment were less likely to label their past sexual assault experience as rape. The results are discussed for their clinical and theoretical implications.
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Keywords: RAPE; RAPE MYTH ACCEPTANCE; SEXISM; SEXUAL ASSAULT

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Marquette University, Wisconsin, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2016

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