Their Nature and Extent

Acts of sexual aggression have been documented for centuries. The statistics used here are recent and considered among the more valid by top researchers in this field of study.

Rape and Child Sexual Abuse. In 1997, the U.S. Bureau of Justice's Uniform Crime Reports estimated the annual rate of reported rapes to be 70 per 100,000 women (Russell & Bolen, 2000, p. 51). Federal crime victimization surveys found the annual prevalence of completed or attempted rapes to be three to four times higher. Russell's 1978 lifetime prevalence survey of 930 San Francisco women suggests a greater risk of rape: one in four women were rape victims and one in two had experienced rape or attempted rape (Russell & Bolen, 2000, p. 54). Such statistics support the statement that "A woman is raped every minute in America" (Koss et al., 1994, p. 112). Thirty-eight percent of Russell's survey participants reported at least one experience of incestuous or extrafamilial sexual abuse before the age of 18 (Russell & Bolen, 2000, p. 163). Add in the sexual abuse of boys, and one in two children in America may experience sexual abuse.

Sexual Aggression in Warfare and Religious and Ethnic Conflicts. The most public rapes occur in wars and ethnic conflicts. In Against Our Will, Brownmiller (1975) writes of the use of rape as terrorism and spoil of war citing Christian pilgrims' rape of

Muslim women in the First Crusade (p. 31), Japanese concentration camp rape and camp brothels in World War II (p. 62), and the rape and murder of women by U.S. soldiers in Vietnam (p. 103). Military brothels servicing American soldiers in Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam created an image of Southeast Asia as a "sex capital" (Perpinan, 1994). Upon occupying Tibet in 1949, Chinese soldiers raped and impregnated Tibetan women as a means of ethnic cleansing and humiliation for Tibetan men (Campaign Free Tibet, 1994). Serbian soldiers did the same, raping Bosnian Muslim women and denying them abortions so they might "give birth to little Chetniks" (Drakulic, 1994, p. 180).

Date Rape and Acquaintance Rape on College Campuses. A study of students at 32 American institutions of higher education showed that 28% of the women had experienced a rape or rape attempt since age 14, and that 8% of the men admitted having committed at least one rape (Koss, Gidycz, & Wisniewski, 1987). Investigating a fraternity rape at the University of Pennsylvania, Sanday (1990b, p. 9) argued that sexual aggression is "the means by which some men display masculinity and induct younger men into masculine power roles." The campus party culture that encourages group sexual aggression against lone college women promotes their seduction with alcohol and drugs, defines a drunken woman as "asking for it," and labels men who object to this kind of behavior as wimps and faggots (p. 11). The community supports such behavior. The Penn case settled out of court and the fraternity house closed for one semester. Some fraternities are more dangerous for women than others. Boswell and Spade (1996) note that the abusive attitudes that some fraternities perpetuate are part of a general culture where rape is part of traditional gender scripts. Sexually active men are positively referred to as studs whereas sexually active women are labeled sluts. A double standard is more often applied to nameless acquaintance or unknown women. Houses where more of the men have regular girlfriends are less likely to host high-risk parties.

Intimate Partner Rape and Partner Violence.

Women are more likely to be raped, injured, or killed by current or former partners than by other assailants (Finkelhor & Yllo, 1985). As many as 34% of women are physically assaulted by intimate males (Koss et al., 1994). Violence is mutual in many partnerships (Kantor & Jasinski, 1998, p. 9), but women are more often seriously injured and a woman raped by her partner lives with her rapist and suffers repeated rapes and violence (Mahoney & Williams 1998, p. 116). Official statistics do not include same-sex partner rapes, yet violence in same-sex relationships is high, with 38% of gay and 48% of lesbian couples experiencing partner violence. Surveys on psychological, physical, and sexual abuse show that 50% of lesbians are victims of previous or current partners. When dating relationships are considered, straight women are more likely than lesbians to be abused by dates—19% versus 5% (West, 1998a). Other groups with high partner violence and sexual abuse are some Latino groups, African and Asian Americans and American Indians (West, 1998b). African American men reportedly abuse their wives four times as often as European Americans (West, 1998b, p. 190) and their wives are twice as likely to engage in severe acts of violence in return. Puerto Rican men are reportedly 10 times more likely than Cuban men to assault their wives. However, intimate violence is hidden in wealthier communities, making it difficult to be sure that the difference is so great (West, 1998b, p. 191).

Child Sexual Abuse. State legal definitions of child sexual abuse and incest vary as to specific acts and ages of victims and perpetrators, the relationship between them, and whether or not violence is used. Given difficulties in reporting and prosecution, few cases of child sex abuse result in conviction (Russell & Bolen, 2000, p. 144). Two difficulties are the social and economic pressures placed on victims to protect their abusers, and children's difficulties in recalling details of their victimization. Researchers also disagree over what constitutes child sexual abuse or incest, arguing over whether or not to include peer sexual abuse or unwanted touches on the buttocks, thereby making comparisons difficult (Finkelhor, 1994). The National Incidence Study is an effort of the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect to collect data on reported and unreported child abuse in the United States. In 1993 there were an estimated 300,200 sexually abused children, 198,732 of whom were female (Sedlak & Broadhurst, 1996). The study was flawed, however, because it limits child sexual abuse to acts perpetrated by parents and caretakers. Other studies show sexual abuse by nonrelatives to be more prevalent. Russell uncovered the prevalence of incestuous and extrafamilial child sex abuse in her 1978 San Francisco study. She found that 38% of her female respondents reported at least one experience of incestuous or extrafamilial sexual abuse before 18 years of age, with 16% of the 930 women reporting at least one experience of incestuous abuse (Russell & Bolen, 2000, pp. 151, 163). When Russell added non-contact sexual abuse, 54% of her sample reported at least one experience of sexual abuse before 18 years of age. In Los Angeles, Wyatt (1985) found no significant differences in prevalence rates for child sexual abuse between African American and European American women. The prevalence rate for child sexual abuse for Hispanic women in Russell's San Francisco sample was 45%, slightly higher than her prevalence rate of 42% for non-Hispanic white women (Russell & Bolen, 2000, p. 185).

Pornography. In Dangerous Relationships, Russell (1998) reviews research showing pornography's close relationship to violence against women and children. She defines pornography as "material that combines sex and/or the exposure of genitals with abuse or degradation in a manner that appears to endorse, condone, or encourage such behavior" (p. 3). She distinguishes pornography from erotica, defining the latter as "suggestive or arousing material that is free of sexism, racism, and homophobia and is respectful of all human beings and animals portrayed." Adult pornography depicts women's bodies in ways suggesting that sexual harassment is harmless and that women enjoy being raped and sexually degraded. Russell argues that such images predispose some males to desire rape and undermines their inhibitions against acting out rape desires (p. 121). Young children are exposed to pornography, with most boys seeing Playboy or some other soft-porn magazine by the age of 11 years (p. 127). An example of femicidal pornography is the 1979 film Snuff, in which an unsuspecting South American actress is killed, a man ripping out her uterus and holding it up in the air while he ejaculates (Labelle, 1980; Russell, 1998, p. 98). The selling of sexual violence includes the glorification of killers like Jack the Ripper. According to Cameron (1992), "ripperology" reached its height with the 100th anniversary of Jack the Ripper's spree of killing prostitutes and his status as a cultural hero and role model for other sexual killers like the 1981 Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe. The rapid growth of Internet pornography has many concerned about the impact on young people (Russell, 1998, p. 160).

Sexual Harassment. Sexual harassment is often depicted as a lesser, even enjoyable, form of sexual coercion. However, research shows it to be a serious problem, affecting one in two women in the United States (Koss et al., 1994, p. 111). Women in traditionally male occupations are at greater risk, as shown by the Tailhook Convention incident in which drunken male pilots assaulted their female peers (Koss et al., 1994, p. 113). The seriousness of sexual harassment involves not only the physical and emotional victimization that women suffer but also their economic vulnerability. For a long time sexual harassment was not a crime, so it was not included in victimization surveys. In 1980 it became a civil rights violation when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued its guidelines. In 1986 the Supreme Court made sexual harassment illegal by including it in the category of gender discrimination. However, few victims confront their harassers. Less than 5% file a complaint (Koss et al., 1994, p. 123). Many victims trivialize their situations while others fear losing their jobs. Some fear that they will not be believed or will be accused of causing trouble, as happened publicly in the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings (Gutek, 1985). Studies show that younger women tend to be objects of sexual harassment more than older women, and minority women are less likely than European American women to quit a job as a result of sexual harassment (Koss et al., 1994, p. 143). In Giuffre and Williams' (1994) study of labeling sexual harassment in restaurants, they found that many men and women experience sexual behavior in the workplace as pleasurable. This is especially so in jobs where workers are hired on the basis of their attractiveness and solicitousness—work such as receptionists and restaurant servers. Waitpeople used complex double standards when labeling behavior. Many claimed that they enjoyed sexual interactions involving coworkers of the same race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and class/ status background, but labeled as sexual harassment the same behaviors when they involved interactions between gays and heterosexuals or between men and women of different racial/ethnic backgrounds.

The Threat of Sexual Violence. The threat of sexual violence limits the freedoms of likely victims and gives an edge of terrorism to likely perpetrators. Men on Rape (Beneke, 1982) looks at the effects of the threat of sexual violence on women. Talking to women, Beneke found that the threat of rape alters the meaning and feel of the night and nature, with women fearful of walking late at night or alone in the country or wooded areas. Limiting mobility at night, the threat of rape limits where and when one works, making it harder for women to earn money. It makes solitude less possible and women more dependent on men and other women. It inhibits expressiveness, making women fearful of seeming "too friendly" or "sexy." It inhibits freedom of the eye, forcing a woman to worry about her safety over enjoying the view. Add to this the fears of women in abusive marriages. Others become exasperated with women who stay in abusive marriages, but the women (and researchers) know that it is dangerous leaving abusive men, many of whom stalk and kill wives who leave.

Perpetrators and Victims. Most victims of sexual aggression in the United States are women and children, with 95% of the perpetrators being male. There are three times as many female child victims as male child victims (Russell & Bolen, 2000, pp. 150-151). Two-thirds of sexual assault and rape victims know their assailants. Women are more than twice as likely to be murdered by an intimate partner than by a stranger (Hatty, 2000, pp. 4-5). Low-income urban females between 16 and 19 years are the most likely to be sexually victimized, and their attackers are mostly young themselves. The majority of attacks are not reported to the police. While adult males in general are rarely rape victims, they are at risk in prison and other male institutions. Favored victims are gay and heterosexual youths forced by their attackers to play girls or gal-boys. Attackers are called protectors or wolves, names highlighting power positions in hierarchical relationships (Brownmiller, 1975). Children are at risk for sexual abuse in relationships with male authority figures, some related (fathers, uncles, brothers) and others not (teachers, police, priests). Rarely discussed are rapes by females on females and females on males. While the latter are rare, such rapes can be committed by a woman using a weapon to force a male into having intercourse with her and include the statutory rapes of underage males (Russell & Bolen, 2000, p. 23). There are also statutory rapes of underage females by adult women and the rape of women by their female partners.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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