Our world is operated by gender roles and each society values different gender roles. These gender roles are a way that society has organized specific characteristics of the sexes in order to function. However, as most of us would agree these gender roles may not always be a positive thing for women and also men. I hope that this blog post will be more of a discussion. I want to share some research information and then have an open discussion about how we can go about teaching benevolent sexism and traditional gender roles in an appropriate manner.
Victim blaming became a passionate subject for me after this past spring when my husband and I had the opportunity to help a friend plan a Take Back the Night event. She planned this event in regards to a recent rape that occurred on the Provo River Trail. After this attack, the young woman who was out running received a lot of blame for the attack. After this even I thought a lot of how gender roles and benevolent sexism contribute to victim blaming. I was reminded of a correlation study that a professor, whom I have had the opportunity to do a lot of work with, conducted. I want to share her findings and help lead our discussion.
Let me explain her research. Her study focused on how strength of benevolent sexism, hostile sexism, and gender role tradionality contribute to the level that a rape victim either of a stranger scenario or date-rape situation influence the victim being blamed and the rapist being excused for the behavior. In this research, hostile sexism was defined as negative and antipathetic attitudes toward women that are typically thought to comprise gender-based prejudices. Benevolent sexism was defined as positive and sympathetic attitudes toward women that are not typically thought of as necessarily sexist. For example, opening the door for a woman or pulling her chair out for her at the dinner table would be part of benevolent sexism. There were 126 participants that ranged from ages 18-26. All participants were attending a university in the
region and all
were undergraduate students. 58 were women and 60 were men. The participants
were randomly assigned to read a scenario that focused on a date-rape situation
or a stranger-rape situation. After they
read the survey they were asked to complete the Rape Supportive Attribution
Scale, the Sex-Role Stereotypical Victim Blame Attribution Scale, the Excuse
Rapist Scale, the Sex-Role Egalitarianism Scale, the Ambivalent Sexism
Inventory, and a demographic survey.
What she found was that the date-rape scenario was minimized in
seriousness compared to the stranger-rape scenario. They found that hostile
sexism and benevolent sexism were positively correlated. Those who scored high on the benevolent sexism test and gender role traditionaltiy
were more likely to blame the victim in a date-rape situation. However, in a stranger-rape scenario they
almost always blamed the rapist. Those
who scored high on hostile sexism tended to blame the victim in both scenarios.
“Abrams, Viki, Masser, and Bohner (2003) found that ambivalent sexism, particularly benevolent sexism, was a significant moderator of negative attitudes toward acquaintance rape victim...for benevolent sexists to protect women, women need to be seen as sexually pure and innocent. Therefore, if a woman violates benevolent sexists’ expectations (being raped by her date when she is supposed to be sexually pure), she no longer deserves to be protected. Abrams
et al. (2003) proposed that benevolent sexism can explain the phenomenon of victim blame in the case of acquaintance rape.” (Yamawaki, 2007).
From this quote, she found that for those who scored high on benevolent sexism, once a woman violates the standards for being “sexually pure” she no longer deserves protection or respect. Often times we hear,” Well, she shouldn’t have worn that, she should not have been at his place that time of night, she shouldn’t have gone alone.” These statements unfortunately are still a problem in our society.
Does anyone else find her findings interesting or even alarming? What particularly sticks out to me is that almost half of the participants were women. Some of these women still felt that the women in the acquaintance-rape scenario were the one to be blames for what happened. Why would this be? Here is where the questions for the discussion come to play. We as a society, LDS or not, encourage our children, especially our boys, to be gentlemen. We encourage them to open the door for women, pull out the chair at the dinner table for her, ect. Now, I will be the first one to admit that I love it when my husband opens the door for me and I do not want to ignore teaching our son how to be a gentleman. But how and what ideas or experiences do you have in teaching children these gender roles in a manner that they do not end up blaming a rape victim of an acquaintance scenario in the future? What do these findings of her research mean for us?