Discovering Human Sexuality 4e Chapter 16 Summary

  • Sexual assaults are nonconsensual sex acts; rapes are sexual assaults involving penetration accomplished by force or the threat of force. Statutory rapes are those in which the victim cannot give consent on account of age or mental incapacity. Although both men and women of all ages may experience rape, young women face the highest risk. The great majority of perpetrators are male.
  • The rape rate has decreased markedly over the past 30 years. Most rapes and sexual assaults are committed by people known to the victims (acquaintances, relatives, or intimate partners). The majority of sexual assaults are not reported to police.
  • The prevalence of sexual assaults on college campuses is disputed, but the overall frequency of campus rape has fallen. Most campus rapes are perpetrated by acquaintances or current or former boyfriends. A disproportionate number of campus rapes are committed by college athletes such as football players. There is controversy about how to balance the rights of accusers and accused in the adjudication of campus sexual assaults.
  • Drugs such as Ambien may be used in the perpetration of rape, but alcohol (consumed by the perpetrator or the victim) is much more commonly associated with rape, including rapes on college campuses.
  • Besides physical injuries, victims of sexual assaults may suffer a variety of ill effects, including post-traumatic stress disorder. These effects may be countered by counseling and by survivors’ groups, which help victims regain a sense of control. Male victims of sexual assaults may fear that they will not be taken seriously. LGBT victims are at especially high risk and do not always receive appropriate care.
  • The law has become increasingly protective of rape victims, but many victims of rape and sexual assault do not report the crimes. Men who are convicted of rape are typically sentenced to lengthy prison terms, but only a small minority of rapes are reported and prosecuted. A small, but not negligible, proportion of rape accusations turn out to be unfounded.
  • Conflicting theories attempt to explain rape. Evolutionary psychologists have raised the possibility that it evolved because it increased the reproductive success of men who committed it.
  • Individual men may be predisposed to rape on account of childhood abuse, personality disorders, or a lack of empathy and respect for others. Social forces may encourage a “culture of rape.” Conversely, they may discourage rape, as, for example, through the criminal justice system. Rape is often used as an instrument of war or genocide.
  • Rape prevention programs teach teenagers rape awareness and avoidance, attempt to overcome gender stereotypes, and promote conflict management skills. Many teens are never exposed to these programs, and their effectiveness is uncertain. It is possible that fostering empathy development in young children would be a more effective long-term strategy.
  • Violence between intimate partners causes both physical and psychological injuries. The rate of intimate partner violence has dropped substantially over the past 30 years.
  • Intimate partner violence typically follows a three-phase cycle that includes tension building, violence, and reconciliation. As the cycle repeats, the violent phase tends to intensify and may eventually occur without interruption.
  • Victims of intimate partner violence often stay with their partners. The reasons for this may include social isolation, economic dependence, low self-esteem, shame, and fear of retribution. Battered women may come to see the violence as inevitable and therefore do little to escape it. Many services are now available to help victims of intimate partner abuse, whether or not they remain in their abusive relationships.
  • Unwelcome sexual attention in the workplace (sexual harassment) is a form of illegal sex discrimination. It can take the form of quid pro quo harassment, in which a demand for sex is accompanied by some inducement or threat, or the form of hostile environment harassment, in which the sexual attention makes life difficult for the victim. Harassment can also occur in other structured environments, such as schools and colleges. Allegations of sexual harassment against Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein in 2017 triggered an avalanche of similar accusations against “superstars” in diverse fields.
  • Sexual harassment causes psychological and practical problems for its victims and reduces workplace productivity. Victims can take steps to end sexual harassment by confronting their harassers or by reporting the harassment.
  • Stalking is obsessive following, calling, lying in wait, sending of mail or messages, and the like, all directed at a specific victim. In intimate partner stalking, the stalker is a current or former spouse or romantic partner, and the stalking is motivated by sexual jealousy and anger. In delusional stalking, the stalker is mentally disturbed and believes that the victim (often an acquaintance, teacher, therapist, or celebrity) is in love with him or could be made to fall in love with him. In grudge stalking, the stalker is not motivated by sexual interest. Whatever the type of stalking, it can progress to violence. Stalking is illegal, but legal remedies are of limited effectiveness.