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Walk like a man: a content analysis of anti-sexual violence websites for men




Howerton, Leslie D., author
Switzer, Jamie, advisor
Christen, Cindy, committee member
Griffin, Cindy, committee member

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This study was the first step in examining the messages of anti-sexual assault websites that target men as perpetrators. The overarching question it set out to answer was whether these sites perpetuate rape myth acceptance. The study began with a literature review of rape myth acceptance theory and anti-sexual assault campaigns. One important theme from the literature is that holding stereotypical or traditional gender role beliefs is the number on predictor of rape myth acceptance. The method was devised using the Acceptance of Modern Myths about Sexual Aggression (AMMSA) scale. A content analysis was then conducted on four websites chosen based on two criteria: approach and organization type. Two sites used a traditionally masculine approach and two sites used an androgyny advocacy approach. One traditionally masculine site was administered by a nonprofit organization and one was a governmental site. One androgyny site was also nonprofit and one was governmental. This was designed to bring balance to the purposive sample, and to compare and contrast these two dimensions. Key findings included gender stereotypes and rapes myths on all four websites. Empathy was found most overall, and miscommunication was found least. Images of men outnumbered women 31 percent to five percent. Masculine gender stereotypes, justification, and uncontrolled sexuality were most prevalent on the traditionally masculine sites, and feminine gender stereotypes, denial, and emancipated sexuality were found most prevalent on the androgynous sites. Victim blame was found on all four sites. No differences were found between the nonprofit and governmental sites. The messages on these sites may explicitly endorse an anti-sexual assault agenda, but the text and images contain gender stereotypes and rape myth functions that undermine the websites' purpose and perpetuate rape myth acceptance. Rape myth acceptance remains the number one predictor of men committing rape, and the sexual assault rate in the US has remained the same for thirty years. It is possible that mass media messages not only fail to actually impact attitudes and behaviors concerning sexual assault, but they may unknowingly perpetuate rape culture. Further research on audience effects is needed to determine how men receive, interpret, and act on these messages.


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public health
sex education
sexual assault


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