Last month, Dan Kahan of Yale University Law School released a study examining the cultural factors at play in popular reactions to rape cases. Kahan’s research question was straightforward: If a person voices “repeated verbal objections” to a sex act, is it rape?
In other words, who among us thinks that “no” really means “no,” and who thinks that “no” is just a handy excuse for loose women? As it turns out, knowing that “no” means “no” has little to do with your gender, and a lot to do with what you think about gender.
People Who Think “No” Means “No”: Men and women with an “egalitarian” worldview which “judges the character of men and women by a largely unitary measure, and treats female sexuality as a legitimate expression of individual autonomy.” Makes sense, right? Not to some:
People Who Think “No” Means “Maybe”: As it turns out, people who can’t tell the difference between “yes” and “no” are nevertheless very invested in maintaining differences between “men” and “women.” The people most likely to believe that a rape victim actually consented, even though she said “no”? Those with a “conservative, traditional, and hierarchical” worldview, marked by “highly differentiated and stratified gender roles.”
Among this group, older women were the most likely to pooh-pooh “no means no”: “Overall, women were no more or less likely to favor conviction than were men. However, women who subscribed to the hierarchical cultural style—particularly older women who did—were more inclined to form a pro-defendant view of the facts.”
( details about the experiment (warning: graphic and potentially triggering)Collapse )