According to one study of male students at the University of North Dakota, 1 in 3 men would rape a woman if they could get away with it.
Nearly one in three college men admit they might rape a woman if they knew no one would find out and they wouldn’t face any consequences, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of North Dakota.
But, when the researchers actually used the word “rape” in their question, those numbers dropped much lower — suggesting that many college men don’t associate the act of forcing a woman to have sex with them with the crime of committing rape.
The fact that many would-be rapists don’t see their hypothetical actions as “rape-rape” suggests that there’s something very wrong with the way we as a society talk about male sexuality, but also that prevention and education programs may be successful if they target the men who see forcible sex as acceptable but don’t associate it with rape.
“The No. 1 point is there are people that will say they would force a woman to have sex but would deny they would rape a woman,” Sarah R. Edwards, an assistant professor of counseling psychology at the University of North Dakota and the lead researcher for the study, told Newsweek.
A sweeping international survey of men conducted by United Nations researchers found that most men who had perpetrated rape simply believed they had the right to take control of women’s bodies. A survey of U.S. teens found that many young men are manipulating their partners into sex and getting away with it. And a study that focused specifically on teenage girls in the United States found that most of them assume sexual coercion and violence is normal, because they think men simply can’t control their sex drives.
In order to reach the population of men who don’t currently associate forcible sex with rape, the lead authors of the new study suggest education programs that focus on defining sexual consent and encouraging healthy relationships. Simply pushing an anti-rape message won’t necessarily reach those men, they point out, because they don’t think of themselves as rapists.