, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 107-123

Sexual climate and reported rape: A state-level analysis

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Data on the US states are used to study two aspects of sexual climate: sexually liberal attitudes and sex magazine readership, and their relationship to reported rape. The two sexual climate measures are correlated (r =0.50), but each also seems to measure a different facet of sexual climate: tolerance for the sexual behavior of others in the case of the Sexual Liberalism Index, and perhaps sexuality per se in the case of sex magazine readership. States in the Northeast have the highest average sexual liberalism score, and states in the West have the highest average readership of sex magazines. The relationship between sexual climate and the incidence of reported rape was investigated using multiple regression. Results indicate no relationship between sexually liberal attitudes and rape, but that sex magazine readership, urbanization, poverty, and a high percentage of divorced men are each significantly associated with the incidence of reported rape. The findings are interpreted within a theoretical model that posits rape as a function of social disorganization and hypermasculine gender roles and sexuality.

Paper presented at the 1985 annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Social Problems. This research is part of the State and Regional Indicators Archive and research program at the University of New Hampshire. A list of program publications and information on the availability of data can be obtained by writing to Murray A. Straus. We are indebted to the Graduate School of the University of New Hampshire, and to the National Institute of Mental Health (grant T23HM15161) for support of this research.