While current projective modeling estimates that one in five women (globally) will be sexually assaulted over the course of her lifetime (U.N. Database 2010), culturally accepted “myths” that minimize the incidence and graveness of sexual assault are still broadly believed.
To further clarify, rape myths are defined as stereotypical philosophies about sexual attacks which perpetuate both victim blaming and perpetrator sympathy and diminish the severity of the intrinsic violence behind such assaults (Brownmiller 1975). As of today, extensive analysis on the acceptance of these myths in relation to sexual violence in Western cultures has been conducted, however, considerably less thourough investigation has been completed outside a Western framework.
As sexual violence is a global epidemic, attention to culturally based variances in factors linked to sexual violence and their implications must be considered. Due to their conventionally divergent principles surrounding gender roles and standards, India and the United Kingdom were utilized as successful sample locations from which to gather, compare and contrast data.Order now
To better understand the interconnectedness between rape myth credence, biased gender perception, hostile sexism and sexual violence, cross-cultural analyses of the aforementioned factors were performed. With this, it is questioned whether the bedrock of these beliefs rests on cultural norms which endorse harsh, archaic gender roles and misogynistic attitudes toward women – or if the basis on which these myths are constructed lies elsewhere in the cultural sphere.
By dissecting the variances in perception of women and women’s rights in both India and the UK, it is possible to extrapolate connections between such views, sexual violence and the resulting acceptance of rape myths in the two countries.
While the male counterpart of the aforementioned populations classically reports more traditionalistic opinions on culturally assigned gender roles than their female counterpart, it can be seen that more industrialized countries (like the U.K.), have shifted towards a more equitable and liberal outlook on principles surrounding gender over the past several decades (Boehke 2011).
Along with this, attitudes towards sexual expression, gendered obligations and familial dynamics have become more broadminded. Bearing this in mind, various research endeavors have concluded that there is a correlation between negative opinions on egalitarian gender roles and the condoning of sexual violence and the subsequent belief in rape myth. This conclusion focuses on the fact that persons who support archaic beliefs regarding gendered power dynamics, had a greater incidence of accepting rape myth fallacies (Moler 2015).
By accepting the idea of the rape myth, the furthering of deleterious perceptions of rape victims and greater sympathy for the suspected perpetrator could be observed. To support this claim, research conducted in India which surveyed teenage males, concluded that boys who supported prejudiced, traditionalistic stances on gender roles were far more likely to excuse the perpetration sexual violence in their communities and personal relationships (Verma 2014).
Paired with archaic views on gender roles, sexism (and the furthering of sexist opinions), greatly impacts how sexual violence and rape myth fallacies are perceived in both India and the United Kingdom. To better understand this phenomenon, grasping the innate construct of sexism is extremely important.
With this, sexism is divided into two constitutive parts: benevolent sexism and hostile sexism (Glick and Fiske 1996). Sexism which is hostile in nature, is characterized by the ostracism of women who actively reject traditionalistic gender roles. Alternatively, benevolent sexism refers to the “reward” system that incentivizes adherence to culturally approved gender constructs.