Research Proposal: Gender Role Theory and Male Rape Victims

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Gender Role Theory & Male Rape Victims

GENDER ROLE THEORY and MALE RAPE:

This article describes and analyzes how researchers have studied rape, particularly focusing on male rape cases and its link to gender role theory. I utilized ten existing literatures with emphasis on employed theory and research questions

This article is divided into three main sections. Firstly, the research topic is described. Second, the process of conducting this literature is described with particular focus on the search strategies used and the related criterion for inclusion. The last section provides a discussion of various works done on this subject matter.

For the purpose of this literature review, we shall define rape in terms of forced rape, which is "sexual intercourse with an unwilling partner" (Kring et al., 2007, p. 444). We all know that there are many dimensions to rape - a hot topic in mass media, an academic interest especially among scholars in the domain of social sciences, and a violation of the law. Unfortunately, this crime has since become widespread. Statistics shows that twenty to twenty-five percent of American women will be raped during their lifetimes (Crowell & Burgess in Kring et al., 2007, p. 444). Indeed, much work has been done on cases of rape among women but we know little about male rape cases. We can even see that this topic receives little regard in the literature as authors would say, "Although men can be victims of sexual assault, our discussion focuses on women, because more than 90% of rapes are committed by men against women" (ibid).

II. Method research review is a process of "re-viewing" or a process of looking again at what has been done before, what has been built and what needs further attention (Leedy, 1993). However, the process of looking again requires selection and reflexivity. It is a matter of choosing particular studies that are significant in understanding your research problem. With this in mind, I have generated a criterion for inclusion in this literature review. Firstly, empirical and discursive articles on male rape cases were included. Secondly, theories involving gender role were selected for the presentation of this literature review.

The process of selecting specific research contributions was conducted through three steps. First, bibliographical databases were searched for relevant journal articles, theses, and dissertations using specific research queries (the keywords used are the following: male rape + gender role). Library and internet research techniques were also employed in this literature review. Second, the sources were listed and analyzed in terms of their content. Third, the analysis that resulted from these search processes was included in the review process.

III. Presentation

As we have already presented our basic definition of rape, I believe that it is fitting to have a brief discussion of the basic tenets of gender role theory because for the rest of this article, we will try to review the link between rape and gender role theory.

Gender roles are "socially and culturally defined prescriptions and beliefs about the behavior and emotions of men and women" (Anselmi and Law in Marriage and Family Encyclopedia, 2009, par. 1). Gender role theory, as a vast field, involves biological, cognitive, and socio-cultural perspectives (McGraw Hill Higher Education, 2003).

A. Gender Role Theory: Women as Victims

Men are widely seen as perpetrators of rape. Gender role theory maintains that because of socialization and cultural imperatives, men tend to be more aggressive than women. This view is associated with rape as many [male] rapists are found to have unusually high hostility toward women (Malamuth, 1998 in Kring et al., 2007). Males also tend to be more sexually aggressive than women as women are expected to strongly uphold the values of morality and decency. In connection to this, in rape cases, male rapists tend to respond more with sexual arousal to images of coercive sexual activity (Lalumiere & Quinsey, 1994) in Kring et al., 2007. Interpersonal violence, which can be deemed acceptable to more societies as a way of handling conflict, is also seen as a factor in rape cases (Sanday, 1981 in Kring et al., 2007).

At this point, we have established that gender role theory provides sound analytical framework in understanding rape cases. At this point, this theory regards men as the perpetrating party. Our inquiry leads us to the question of what is the utility of this theory in tackling the issue of rape cases where men are the victims.

B. Studies on Male Rape Cases

Some of the studies that attempt to employ gender role theory in male rape victims mainly use it as predictor of other outcome variables. In a study by Anderson (2007), female rape is perceived as acquaintance rape while male rape is perceived to be stranger rape. On a 1997 study by Rogers, male rape cases are used to predict the occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorders. In another study, male rape was used to understand the effect of victims' social support on attributions of blame (see Anderson & Lyons, 2005). Myths on male rape, on the other hand, were tested among counselors-in-training in the study by Kassing & Prieto (2003).

C. Gender Role Theory: Men as Victims

This literature hypothesizes that the very fact that accounts of male rape cases are rare actually strengthens the gender role theory. Men are culturally expected to be strong, aggressive, and masculine in all sense of the word (whereas rape is associated with femininity). This is supported by the study of Groth and Burgess (1980) among 22 cases of male rape in a community setting. Findings show that rape was seen as expression of power, strength and manhood. Its effects on men involve the disruption of biopsychosocial functioning. It is often underreported because of the stigma associated with male rape cases. Gender role theory also holds that culture expects men to show very little emotion. This finding can be noted in the cases of fourteen male rape victims who were the subject of the study by Kaufman et al. (1980). The victims, who underwent physical trauma, were also hesitant in divulging the genital dimension of their assault. They also tend to be in denial and on constant guard of their emotions thereby revealing very little about how they truly felt about the assault.

Homosexual and heterosexual males, on the other hand, were the subject of the male rape study by Davies and McCartney (2003). Their findings showed that heterosexual men are more likely to make the most anti-victim judgments on male rape cases while gay men's judgment tends to be otherwise. The former are also more likely to believe in rape myths. They are also more likely to blame the male victims of rape.

The perception of people on male rape cases, as we may have already noted from above, is an interesting point of analysis. In a study by Doherty and Anderson (2004), men and women were presented a vignette of male rape case, later on they were asked about their perceptions on the situation. Analysis of the data showed that respondents tend to create a hierarchy of suffering where rape is said to be worse for heterosexual men than it is for women or gay men. This hierarchy, in effect, somehow absolves the perpetrators by putting differential sympathy on the victims.

As a form of conclusion, this review of literature shows that the utility of gender role theory is of great importance in understanding male rape. Moreover, we have seen that gender role theory in relation to male rape cases are often used as predictors of other variables. Indeed, it is worth noting that research on male rape using the gender role theory as analytical framework can contribute in two ways. Firstly, it can contribute to what we know about male rape in general. And secondly, it can contribute… [END OF PREVIEW]

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