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Dynamics of Party-oriented Rape on College Campuses Human Sexuality Neal King rape nationwide many settings mostly among acquaintances rates peaking around the crack boom rates cut in half over ten years from 1993-2003, as part of overall decrease in violent crime …

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rape nationwide

  • many settings
  • mostly among acquaintances
  • rates peaking around the crack boom
  • rates cut in half over ten years from 1993-2003, as part of overall decrease in violent crime …
but rape on college campuses
BUT, rape on college campuses
  • 1980s-2000s, depending upon measures, no major drop in rates …
  • 1/6-1/3 of college women report being coerced into sexual activity, along with a smaller proportion of men.
  • Why different trends on and off campus?
  • Answer: Stability of rape-prone collegiate institutions, like closed male groups and the unrestrainedparties they throw.
sociology of the college party
sociology of the college party
  • group factors:
  • men bonded in high status and loyalty,
  • women as status-seeking targets.
  • situational factors:
  • clustering of homogenous students,
  • freedom from supervision,
  • access to alcohol,
  • ritual atmosphere,
  • physical barriers to movement.
college party groups
college party groups
  • Colleges concentrate youth fresh from parents’ homes, responsible for little, and desperate for friends and fun.
  • Upwardly mobile teens seek high-status groups (greeks, teams, etc.)
  • Students uninterested in the scene become marginal or leave.
bros and hos
bros and hos
  • Members of closed male groups intend to network mostly with men,
  • … tend to treat women as sexual adjuncts, and
  • enjoy solidarity at the expense of outsiders (GDIs, civilians, non-athletes, women).
  • solidarity is pride in group membership, generated in ritual bonding …
  • “one of the best times in a boy’s life.”
  • in which women give admiration and service: “not just the pleasure but the feeling of approval of my masculinity.”
  • enhanced by heterosexual success : to be “admired by other men.”
  • mutual support in pursuit of sex at local bonding and mating rituals, a.k.a. parties …
unequal constraints
unequal constraints
  • Students report that men’s aggression is mostly blameless whereas women’s cooperation can seem slutty.
  • Students expect men to be dogs, women to be nice …
  • which can constrain women from forceful response and entitle men to satisfaction when aroused.
college party situation
college party situation
  • College students focus networking on intense rituals of alcohol-fueled parties.
  • Both dry dorms with little public space, and dry sorority-houses with entry restrictions, flush teens toward fraternity houses and off-campus homes.
  • Men control fraternity houses and are more likely to control apartments.
  • Socially homogenous residences exert intense pressure to join in.
college party situation11
college party situation
  • Party rituals boost solidarity and thus pressure party-goers to conform to sex-specific ideals:
  • for men, to score;
  • for women, to be hot and nice.
  • Partying is student-only space, out of reach of formal control.

With control of most party spaces, men choose themes …

  • CEOs and corporate hos ─ org unknown, VT, 2006
  • golf pros and tennis hos Pikes, MSU, 2008
  • “Settler Bros …” ─ Delta Chi, VT (not used)
online theme advice
online theme advice
  • “I'm a 22 year old college student in a fraternity and have just been elected social chair … So far, we've been given ideas like: * ultimate flip cup championship * country club aka golf pros, tennis hoes * gi joes and barbie hoes * white trash trailer bash GIMME SOME MORE IDEAS!!!!!!” ─ “Deeman”
  • “• Pimps & Hoes (freeform) is always a classic. •Sports theme- usually chicks wear cheerleading outfits. • Naughty school-girl & the teacher.” ─ “JMD”
college party situation14
college party situation
  • Parties controlled by men offer tools to deal with resistance to sexual advances:
  • alcohol,
  • loud music and low lights,
  • themes requiring “skanky” clothes,
  • isolated rooms,
  • locations requiring transport, and
  • solidarity among assailants, witnesses, and bystanders.
conformity signs of consent
conformity: Signs of consent
  • Accepting drinks
  • “drugging herself”
  • dancing sexy
  • dancing at all
  • having a chance to “escape”
  • using physical resistance just “to show you how sincere she is”
conformity working out a yes
conformity: Working out a “yes”
  • “If she sticks around, that your signal that she’s not quite ready to do anything, but she’s still interested in you, so it’s worth trying … you know, to keep trying.”
  • “Sometimes you get surprised … by the way they say ‘no’ you can’t always tell at all … Like you thought there was no way that you would get laid, and you did.”
group factor ranking hos
group factor: ranking hos
  • Girlfriends receive the most deference.
  • Unattached frosh are the most likely targets.
  • Off-campus women receive the most hostility (with allowances for hotness).
  • The principle is one of attachment to the men’s group.
conformity covering for bros
conformity: Covering for bros
  • A small number of predators operate.
  • Nearly all men around tolerate without discussing it.
  • Occasional, high-solidarity group activities draw more men.
  • Afterward, loyalty demands silence.
  • Though some guys are uncomfortable, they don’t disrupt, and thereby maintain it.
conformity covering for bros19
conformity: Covering for bros
  • A “friend” to a gang-rape survivor:

“would like to help but can’t get brothers into trouble [by testifying in the college investigation] … have to stick up for them.”

conformity covering for bros20
conformity: Covering for bros
  • College man to a sociologist:

“Girls are continually fed drinks of alcohol. It’s mainly to party but my roomies are also aware of the inhibition-lowering effects. I’ve seen an old roomie block doors when girls want to leave his room; and other times I’ve driven women home who can’t remember much of an evening yet sex did occur.”

conformity covering for bros21
conformity: Covering for bros
  • College man to a sociologist:

“Rarely if ever has a night of drinking for my roommate ended without sex. I know it isn’t necessarily and assuredly sexual assault, but with the amount of liquor in the house I question the amount of consent a lot.”

conformity covering for bros22
conformity: Covering for bros

“It kind of happened to me freshman year. I’m not positive about what happened, that’s the worst part about it. I drank too much at a frat one night, I blacked out and I woke up the next morning with nothing on in their cold dorms, so I don’t really know what happened and the guy wasn’t in the bed anymore, I don’t even think I could tell you who the hell he was. No. I couldn’t.”

conformity covering for bros23
conformity: Covering for bros

“I was scared and wanted to get the hell out of there. I didn’t know who it was, so how am I supposed to go to the hospital and say someone might’ve raped me? It could have been any one of the hundred guys that lived in the house.”

conformity covering for bros24
conformity: Covering for bros

“It happens to so many people, it would shock you. Three of my best friends in the whole world, people that you like would think it would never happen to, it happened to. It’s just so hard because you don’t know how to deal with it because you don’t want to turn in a frat because all hundred of those brothers . . .”


“She somehow got, like, sexually assaulted ... by one of our friends’ old roommates. All I know is that kid was bad news to start with. So, I feel sorry for her but it wasn’t much of a surprise for us. He’s a shady character.”

“I was also thinking like, you know, I just got to school, I don’t want to start off on a bad note with anyone, and now it happened so long ago, it’s just one of those things that I kind of have to live with.”

bro regrets
bro regrets?
  • “Those guys were stupid in not realizing that some way or another, this thing could turn around and get them into a lot of trouble, which is exactly what this girl did.”
  • Brzonkala vs. VT and football players — federal suit over sex discrimination
sis adaptation
sis adaptation
  • Many women give up on the party scene, avoiding houses known for “getting you drunk and trapping you.”
  • Others develop buddy-scheme methods of protecting each other.
  • Most learn to control their drinking in order to avoid being preyed upon.
rape redefined by feminists
rape redefined by feminists
  • a crime against women
  • defined as such in the 1970s
rape sex or power
rape: sex or power?
  • Feminists have often referred to rape as power rather than just sex.
  • Rape on campus tends to be the sex that men coerce by means of their higher group status, control of parties, and interactional advantages (“out of control” vs. “nice”).
  • Men relate to each other over the sex that they have with women, cementing high-status bonds from which they exclude women.
  • Status + control + advantage = power
rape sex or power30
rape: sex or power?
  • Women remain outsiders (hos not bros) to groups that foster highest rates of rape.
  • Outcomes for survivors include stress, disease, distrust, academic disability.
  • Men gain competitive advantages for treating women as hos not bros.
  • This begets advantage in a situation of upward mobility: Power
popular anti rape policies
popular anti-rape policies
  • dry dorms
  • directs partying off campus and may not reduce binge drinking there
  • education
  • doesn’t faze perpetrators
  • judicial systems
  • Confidentiality prevents banning or making public examples of perps.
alerts and warnings
alerts and warnings
  • Recent VT official warning:
  • “Please use caution when walking at night.  When possible, walk in a group and use only well lit pathways.  Trust your instincts and report suspicious behavior or circumstances.”
alerts and warnings33
alerts and warnings
  • But perhaps instead:
  • “Please be aware that we identify, arrest and prosecute assailants on this campus, whatever their motives, level of inebriation, or high-status connections.
  • Assault will land you in jail.”
the most promising policies
the most promising policies
  • Women’s control of space and movement:
  • neutral spaces with ease of movement
  • Women’s control of alcohol and music
  • to reduce binge drinking
  • Women’s options in hostile interactions
  • with more rudeness and self-defense
  • Women’s authority in the community
  • to be peers not targets
  • Armstrong, Elizabeth A., Laura Hamilton, and Brian Sweeney. 2006. "Sexual assault on campus: A multilevel, integrative approach to party rape." Social Problems 53:483-499.
  • Boswell, A. Ayres and Joan Z. Spade. 1996. "Fraternities and collegiate rape culture: Why are some fraternities more dangerous places for women?" Gender & Society 10:133-147.
  • Forbes, Gordon B., Leah E. Adams-Curtis, Alexis H. Pakalka, and Kay B. White. 2006. "Dating Aggression, Sexual Coercion, and Aggression-Supporting Attitudes Among College Men as a Function of Participation in Aggressive High School Sports." Violence Against Women 12:441-55.
  • Franklin, Karen. 2004. "Enacting Masculinity: Antigay Violence and Group Rape as Participatory Theater." Sexuality Research and Social Policy: Journal of NSRC 1:25-40.
  • King, Neal. 2003. "Knowing women: Straight men and sexual certainty." Gender & Society 17:861-877.
  • Lisak, David. 2004. "Predators." Connection: The Journal of the New England Board of Higher Education 19:19-20.
  • Martin, Patricia Yancey and Robert A. Hummer. 1989. "Fraternities and rape on campus." Gender & Society 3:457-473.
  • Miller, Beverly and Jon C. Marshall. 1987. "Coercive sex on the University campus." Journal of College Student Personnel 28:38-47.
  • Peterson, Steven A. and Bettina Franzese. 1987. "Correlates of college men's sexual abuse of women." Journal of College Student Personnel 28:223-8.
  • Sanday, Peggy Reeves. 2007. Fraternity gang rape : sex, brotherhood, and privilege on campus. New York: New York University Press.
  • Welch, Michael. 1997. "Violence Against Women by Professional Football Players: A gender analysis of hypermasculinity, positional status, narcissism, and entitlement." Journal of Sport and Social Issues 21:392-411.