38 Percent of College Men Admit to Coercing Women Into Sex, According to a New Study

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Photo: Patrick Smith

Last week, the Violence Against Women journal published a study that showed more than half of the male undergraduate athletes surveyed from an unnamed large, public Division I university in the Southeast admitted to pressuring a partner into sex. Participants in the survey responded to statements that met the legal definition of rape, like, “I used threats to make my partner have oral or anal sex.”

379 men were surveyed, 159 of whom were members of recreational sports teams and 29 of whom were intercollegiate athletes. Previously, research indicated a large number of sexual-assault crimes are committed by intercollegiate athletes, who are typically isolated from the rest of the college community. (Another recent study found that rape rates spike on game days at big football schools.) However, this research shows that intramural athletes who play recreationally may be just as prone to committing sexual violence. Lead author Belinda Rose-Young said intercollegiate athletes, “… are in separate dorms, separate classes … and there’s that constant reiteration of male superiority and athletes who are rewarded for being aggressive. That’s the reality. But we saw that that attitude is just a part of the general sporting environment.”

And non-athletes aren’t completely off the hook. The study also found that 38 percent of male students who do not participate in sports pressured partners into having sex. Reiterating what most women know to be true: that all sorts of men can be rapists.

Moreover, researchers discovered that participants who admitted to coercing partners tended to agree with statements that justified rape, like, “If a woman doesn’t fight back, it isn’t rape,” and that reinforce traditional gender roles like, “Women should worry less about their rights and more about becoming good wives and mothers.” These exact statements were lifted from another survey developed back in 1973, proving that despite the passing of 40 years, attitudes and education toward sexual consent are still antiquated.