The stereotypical picture of men as the perpetrators and women as the victims of acquaintance rape and other forms of unwanted sexual contact appears to be slightly out of focus.
Men are almost as likely as women to report unwanted sexual contact and coercion, according to a new study of college students conducted by researchers from the University of Washington's Addictive Behaviors Research Center. The study, involving nearly 300 students, appears in the current issue of the journal Sex Roles.
Overall, 34 men (21 percent of the male participants) and 36 women (28 percent) reported being recipients of one or more of five types of unwanted sexual contact listed on a gender-neutral questionnaire used by the researchers. The study also showed that men who experienced unwanted sexual contact reported more symptoms of depression than the other males in the study, although none met the criteria for clinical depression. There was no difference in the level of depression symptoms for women who said they were sexually coerced and those who weren't. Women, however, were more likely to be the victims of having physical force used against them.
The research, funded by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, grew out of a larger study looking at alcohol abuse prevention among fraternity and sorority members. One of the surveys used in the larger study by the UW researchers was a standardized sexual experiences questionnaire that solely pictured women as the recipients of coercion and men as the perpetrators.
"Our participants told us we were missing the boat when it came to sexual coercion," said Mary Larimer, research assistant professor of psychology and principal investigator on the new study, "so we revised the questionnaire to make it gender neutral."
The revised survey asked the students - 165 men and 131 women - about
their sexual experiences over the previous year. The stud
Contact: Joel Schwarz
University of Washington