Feminist Rape Education: Does It Work?

The purpose of this research report is twofold: First, we analyze a complex of attitudes about rape myths, adversarial sexual beliefs, and gender-role conservatism; and second, we evaluate the impact of rape-education intervention strategies on American College student's attitudes. Using the Solomon four-group design, we randomly assigned 14 classes of Sociology 101 students (total N = 582) to three different treatment conditions: a live rape-education workshop, a video of the workshop, and a control group. We found significant gender differences in students' attitudes on all the scales, with women being more knowledgeable about rape, less likely to blame the victum, and less accepting of adversarial sexual beliefs and gender-role conservatism. Most important, we found that within the limits of the study, rape-education intervention works in changing some attitudes about rape for both men and women students. We examine the impact of the different educational strategies and explore curricular implications, including the need to teach about rape within a feminist context
Author: 
Fonow,Mary Margaret
Richardson,Laurel
Wemmerus,Virginia A.
Reprint Status: 
IN FILE
Start Page: 
108
End Page: 
121
Volume: 
6
Issue: 
1
Abstract: 
This article begins with an assessment of attitudes and beliefs about rape, specifically as they pertain to college students. It addresses attitudinal factors (i.e., rape myths, rape blame, gender-role conservatism, and adversarial sexual beliefs) and sexism and racism as they culturally support rape myths. The study presented in this article was designed to examine these myths as well as to examine the impact of rape-education intervention strategies on college campuses. Using fourteen classes of Sociology 101 students, the researchers divided 582 students into three treatment conditions. The first was exposed to a live rape-education workshop. The second watched a video of the workshop. The third served as the control group. Results indicated that women were more knowledgeable about rape than men, were less likely to engage in victim-blaming, and were less accepting of adversarial sexual beliefs and gender-role conservatism. Results also revealed that attitudinal changes were apparent in both men and women. In addition, these changes were impacted by a feminist approach to rape education in that students learned that rapes are more likely to take place in a familiar setting, to be perpetrated by someone familiar to the victim, and to serve as a tool of social control over the woman.
Topic Areas: 
College; curriculum; myths/stereotypes; prevention
Reference Type: 
JOUR
Reference ID: 
2391
Publication Date: 
1992/03