Gender difference among rape myth acceptance
As shown in Table 1, the responses of male differed significantly from female with respect to 12 items out of 21 items for the attitude toward rape scale (Mann–Whitney U-test P < 0.05) (1 – A woman can be raped against her will; 4 – Most women secretly desire to be raped; 6 – It should be difficult for a woman to prove rape has occurred; 5 – Most charges of rape are unfounded; 7 – Rape is a male exercise in power over women; 11 – A woman should feel guilty following a rape; 12 – A woman cannot be raped by someone she previously knew or had sex with; 13 – A woman cannot be raped by her husband; 15 – Most rapes involve violence and physical injury; 16 – When a woman says “no” she really means “yes;” 19 – Men cannot be raped; 20 – Rapists are emotionally disturbed and not responsible for their actions).
No rape myths found for three items (3 – A raped woman is a less desirable woman; 9 – Men raping a female child should be punished to death; 21 – Majority of rape cases are not reported to police because of family pride).
The myths were found among college going students in following six items, but there were not statistically different for male to female (2 – A woman should be responsible for preventing her own rape; 5 – Most charges of rape are unfounded; 8 – During a rape, a woman should do everything she can to resist; 10 – The reason most rapists commit rape is for sex; 14 – Most rapes are carried out by strangers; 17 – Rape happens when women go out alone at night or in unsafe places) [Table 1].
Updated Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale
Table 2 shows the mean and standard deviation of responses to the updated IRMA scale. The lowest score, indicating greatest acceptance of the myth, that was found for “When guys rape, it is usually because of their strong desire for sex” (1.95 ± 1.15). The highest score, indicating the lowest support of a myth was for “If the accused “rapist” does not have a weapon, you really cannot call it rape” (4.03 ± 1.49). The first subscale, she asked for it, reflects the belief that the victim’s behaviors invited sexual assault, and yielded a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.608. The second subscale, he did not mean to, reflects the belief that the perpetrator did not intend to rape, yielded a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.793. The third subscale, it was not really rape, consists of five items that deny that an assault occurred due to either blaming the victim or excusing the perpetrator and yielded a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.487). She lied, the fourth subscale, consists of items that indicate the belief that the victim fabricated the rape, yielded a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.847. Gender difference was not found among updated IRMA scale,
Fifty-three percent of the female and 30% of the male responders disagreed that “rapists are emotionally disturbed and not responsible for their actions.” Strong sexual desire of guys, drunkenness, and girl’s clothes were reported by 50%, 40%, and 33% of respondents, respectively, to be factors that provoke rape.
While exploring their perception toward current penalties under for rape, around 95% female and 92% male participants felt that 7-year imprisonment for rape is not enough. Almost 54% of females and 36% of males suggest death penalty as punishment.
Violence against women is a significant public health problem that affects women, men, and children. The shattering effect of rape on victims is well recognized, including negative consequences on physical health, mental health, academic performance, and interpersonal relationships.[17,18,19,20] For decades, the feminist movement has been an influential force in bringing attention to the issue of sexual violence. As a result, today’s college students have become increasingly more aware of rape as a social problem. In spite of this awareness, the frequency of sexual victimization on college campuses has remained relatively unchanged in the last 40 years. This dilemma indicates that there is still more to learn about the causes of sexual violence.[17,18,19,20] This study focused specifically on the rape-supportive attitudes and beliefs predominant within our culture that may serve to facilitate continued acts of sexual violence against women.
The significant finding of the present study is that women students are significantly less supportive of myth behavior than male students. A study conducted by L. Jensen in 1993 also suggested that male is significantly more accepting of rape and rape myths than are female. Men and women have been shown to differ dramatically in their perceptions of and attitudes toward rape, rapists, and rape victims. A study by Sivagnanam et al. suggested that nearly one-third of women (29.8%) and half of men scored poorly (44.3%) indicating a more negative attitude toward rape; their study also revealed that males differed significantly from females with respect to four rape myth scale items (A woman can be raped against her will, 2 – Most women secretly desire to be raped, 3 – Rape is a male exercise in power over women, and 4 – When a woman says “no” she really means “yes”). However, we found that responses were significantly different between genders for 12 items. Rape myth belief differences between males and females may be due to the mixed group of study participants in our study (from the colleges of medicine, engineering, and arts) compared to the study by Sivagnanam et al. which only included medical students.
Research findings suggest that specific factors such as victim blame, sex role expectations, misinformation, and communication/relationship skills contribute to an individual’s potential to subscribe to rape-supportive attitudes.[34,35,36] The research also suggests that gender and gender attendance at a rape prevention workshop may affect rape myth acceptance. Men and individuals who have not been exposed to rape awareness information disagree less strongly with rape myth statements than women and individuals who have been exposed to rape awareness information.
In the present study, the subscale “it was not a rape” has a highest mean 3.42 which suggested that lower rape myth acceptance. In particular, students who scored higher on the it’s not really rape myth subscale indicated less willingness to intervene, which warrants further investigation and the development of strategies to engage and educate this group of students. Current study findings differ from those reported by S. MacMohan, who reported higher mean values for the subscales he did not mean to and she lied and lowest for it was not rape.