Ms Kirstie Boyett1
1Texas A&M Unviersity, College Station, United States
Title IX is the federal civil rights law in the U.S. that requires education systems to have an official policy and response to on-campus sexual harassment and assault. She argues that the current language used acerbates gendered differences, reinforcing gender stereotypes and weakening the response to sexual harassment and assault.
This research takes on gendered narratives surrounding rape. The current rhetoric treats females as victims and feminine characteristics as a predisposition to rape. There is a measure of responsibility, such as asking the victim if she was partying, flirting, or engaging in some behavior that may have “caused” the rape. There is a measure of severity of the crime, assuming that certain types of rape are less of a crime. This treats the female as the accuser, vying that unless she can overcome these two burdens of proof she will remain an accuser and not a victim. This also takes that responsibility away from the male rapist. In short, if the female cannot produce a convincing enough reconstruction of the crime she is seen as less worthy of police and judicial support.
The current narrative surrounding rape is damaging to both females and males. It does not consider the pervasiveness of masculinity and how treating men as mindless, sex-crazed objects reinforces a negative male stereotype. Confronting rape sociologically means evaluating the myths, stereotypes and labels associated with rape and the victimization process. This research employs experimental research methods to test the ways in which the current rhetoric surrounding rape and policies — medical language, the criminal justice system, and public policy – perpetuate victim status and further reinforce traditional gender beliefs. This research argues that challenging and changing the narrative surrounding rape will reduce the chances of rape occurrences and better serve women (and men) who are raped.
Kirstie Boyett is a Sociology doctoral student at Texas A&M University. She specializes in Social Psychology and Criminology and utilizes mixed and experimental methods to research gendered violence. The research she is presenting on is part of her dissertation; it examines the relationship between gendered rhetoric and perceptions of sexual violence.