Are They Guilty Because of Their Gender?

Ronny Shtarkshall, Osmo Kontula, Ilsa S. Lottes, Toivo Aavik, Mario Baras

Abstract


This paper explores whether sexual acts of varying degrees of misconduct/violence are judged differently depending on the gender of the actor and the subject. It presents pooled data from four countries regarding the actors and subjects involved in a range of sexual activities. In addition, the paper investigates whether the gender of the observer (study participant) influenced the assessment. Our sample consisted of 3416 students from the United States, Israel, Finland, and Estonia. The research instrument contained 8 sexual scenarios where the gender labels of the actors and subjects were manipulated. In several highly revealing cases, it was found that female actors were assessed more benignly compared to male ones. Men were never assessed more benignly. Our research finding is in line with public records showing that women are less frequently perceived and reported as sexual perpetrators. As a consequence, men may find it more difficult to complain of sexual misconduct against them, and sexual misconduct by women against men may have remained uncounted and disregarded in many cases.

Keywords


Sexual misconduct, sexual perpetrators, sexual scenarios, perceptions of sexual misconduct, A study of university students.

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ISSN: 1929-4409