Presentation Title

The Effects of Anti-Feminist Primes and Sexism on Rape Myth Acceptance and Rape Proclivity

Location

Atrium

Session Format

Poster Presentation

Research Area Topic:

Humanities & Social Sciences - Psychology, Sociology & Political Science

Co-Presenters, Co- Authors, Co-Researchers, Mentors, or Faculty Advisors

Amy Hackney, Ph.D. (faculty advisor)

Kelsey Pierson (undergraduate co-presenter)

Ashley Smith (undergraduate co-presenter)

Abstract

Rape myths are stereotypical beliefs that provide false information about rape, rape victims, and perpetrators and often serve to justify male sexual aggression against women by trivializing rape and shifting the blame away from the perpetrator and onto the victim (Burt, 1980; Lonsway & Fitzgerald, 1994). Acceptance of rape myths has been positively linked with rape proclivity (Malamuth, 1981) and ambivalent sexism (Abrams, Viki, Masser, & Bohner, 2003). Ambivalent sexism can be split into two constructs, benevolent and hostile sexism. Benevolent sexism is characterized by favorable beliefs about women who occupy traditional gender roles and ideas that women are in need of protection. Hostile sexism, on the other hand, is the derogation of women who defy traditional gender roles (i.e., feminists) and suggests that women use their sexuality to gain control over men (Glick & Fiske, 1996). In contrast to sexism and the desire to preserve traditional gender roles, feminism is characterized by promoting the social, political, and economic rights of women and advocating for gender equality (Feminism, n.d.). Although there are positive attitudes towards feminism, feminists are often portrayed in a negative light and are stereotyped as “man-haters” and aggressive activists. The purpose of the current research study is to empirically examine the effects of priming negative feminist attitudes on rape myth acceptance and rape proclivity in college students and to investigate whether scores on benevolent sexism and/or hostile sexism moderate the effect of the feminist prime. After being primed with negative attitudes towards feminism or neutral primes, participants read an acquaintance rape vignette and answer a questionnaire assessing the rape victim’s blame. Participants complete their rape myth acceptance using two scales, the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale (IRMA; Payne, Lonsway, & Fitzgerald, 1999) and the Acceptance of Modern Myths About Sexual Aggression (AMMSA; Gerger, Kley, Bohner, & Siebler, 2007), a measure of their rape proclivity (men only), measures of their hostile and benevolent sexism using the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (ASI; Glick & Fiske, 1996), and demographics. Approximately 60 students from a regional southeastern university will be recruited for the study. Data is currently being collected and will be completed by March, 2015. We hypothesize that sexism toward women will significantly moderate the effects of the feminist prime. It is expected that for those high in hostile sexism, an anti-feminism prime will reinforce their antagonistic beliefs about women, increasing their blame for the victim, RMA and rape proclivity. It is also expected that for those high in benevolent sexism, an anti-feminism prime will reinforce their beliefs that women should maintain their traditional gender role, increasing their blame for the victim, and RMA. Insight into the relationship between feminism, sexism, and rape myth acceptance could be used to increase efficacy in sexual abuse education programs on college campuses.

Keywords

Rape myth acceptance, Rape proclivity, Ambivalent sexism, Hostile sexism, Benevolent sexism, Feminism, Acquaintance rape

Presentation Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

Start Date

4-24-2015 10:45 AM

End Date

4-24-2015 12:00 PM

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Apr 24th, 10:45 AM Apr 24th, 12:00 PM

The Effects of Anti-Feminist Primes and Sexism on Rape Myth Acceptance and Rape Proclivity

Atrium

Rape myths are stereotypical beliefs that provide false information about rape, rape victims, and perpetrators and often serve to justify male sexual aggression against women by trivializing rape and shifting the blame away from the perpetrator and onto the victim (Burt, 1980; Lonsway & Fitzgerald, 1994). Acceptance of rape myths has been positively linked with rape proclivity (Malamuth, 1981) and ambivalent sexism (Abrams, Viki, Masser, & Bohner, 2003). Ambivalent sexism can be split into two constructs, benevolent and hostile sexism. Benevolent sexism is characterized by favorable beliefs about women who occupy traditional gender roles and ideas that women are in need of protection. Hostile sexism, on the other hand, is the derogation of women who defy traditional gender roles (i.e., feminists) and suggests that women use their sexuality to gain control over men (Glick & Fiske, 1996). In contrast to sexism and the desire to preserve traditional gender roles, feminism is characterized by promoting the social, political, and economic rights of women and advocating for gender equality (Feminism, n.d.). Although there are positive attitudes towards feminism, feminists are often portrayed in a negative light and are stereotyped as “man-haters” and aggressive activists. The purpose of the current research study is to empirically examine the effects of priming negative feminist attitudes on rape myth acceptance and rape proclivity in college students and to investigate whether scores on benevolent sexism and/or hostile sexism moderate the effect of the feminist prime. After being primed with negative attitudes towards feminism or neutral primes, participants read an acquaintance rape vignette and answer a questionnaire assessing the rape victim’s blame. Participants complete their rape myth acceptance using two scales, the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale (IRMA; Payne, Lonsway, & Fitzgerald, 1999) and the Acceptance of Modern Myths About Sexual Aggression (AMMSA; Gerger, Kley, Bohner, & Siebler, 2007), a measure of their rape proclivity (men only), measures of their hostile and benevolent sexism using the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (ASI; Glick & Fiske, 1996), and demographics. Approximately 60 students from a regional southeastern university will be recruited for the study. Data is currently being collected and will be completed by March, 2015. We hypothesize that sexism toward women will significantly moderate the effects of the feminist prime. It is expected that for those high in hostile sexism, an anti-feminism prime will reinforce their antagonistic beliefs about women, increasing their blame for the victim, RMA and rape proclivity. It is also expected that for those high in benevolent sexism, an anti-feminism prime will reinforce their beliefs that women should maintain their traditional gender role, increasing their blame for the victim, and RMA. Insight into the relationship between feminism, sexism, and rape myth acceptance could be used to increase efficacy in sexual abuse education programs on college campuses.