Masculine honor beliefs and perceptions of male rape


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The crime of rape is ubiquitous in the United States and around the world. Due to the traditional conceptualization of rape being perpetrated by men against women (e.g., Tjaden & Thoennes, 2006), the experiences of men who have been raped have been relatively understudied. Nonetheless, male rape is stigmatized, likely attributable to myths about male rape (e.g., men cannot be raped by women; Turchik & Edwards, 2012). The stigma of male rape, and in turn perceptions of men who have been raped, likely relate to masculine honor beliefs (i.e., MHBs; beliefs that male aggression is justifiable in response to threat, provocation, and/or insult; Saucier et al., 2016). Across two studies, I examined how MHBs related to the acceptance of male rape myths (Study 1) and perceptions of men who have been raped (Study 2). Consistent with my hypotheses, in Study 1, higher levels of MHBs were uniquely associated with male rape myth acceptance above and beyond relevant correlates (e.g., female rape myth acceptance, adherence to traditional gender roles). Study 2 extended this by examining how MHBs related to perceptions of a hypothetical male rape scenario, dependent upon the sexual orientation of the victim (i.e., gay or heterosexual) and the gender of the perpetrator (i.e., man or woman). Consistent with my hypotheses, higher levels of MHBs were uniquely associated with more disparaging attitudes towards a male rape victim (e.g., higher levels of victim blaming, higher ratings that the victim should have been able to resist the assault). Several of these relationships were moderated by situational factors. Most notably, higher levels of MHBs were associated with more attitudes that trivialize the victim’s experience (e.g., lower ratings that the assault should be conceptualized as rape) when the perpetrator was a woman, compared to a man. Overall, my research suggests adherence to masculine honor ideology relates to beliefs that trivialize male rape – particularly when rape is perpetrated by a woman.



Masculine honor ideology, Sexual violence, Stigma, Male rape myths

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Master of Science


Department of Psychological Sciences

Major Professor

Donald A. Saucier