On the Prowl: Examining the Impact of Men-as-Predators and Women-as-Prey Metaphors on Attitudes that Perpetuate Sexual Violence

Abstract

A common metaphor used to describe heterosexual relationships frames men as predators and women as prey. The present work assessed potential consequences of these metaphoric portrayals. Participants read a heterosexual dating scenario that did or did not metaphorically frame the situation in predator and prey terms. Using a U.S. college undergraduate sample of 120 women and 82 men in Study 1, exposure to these metaphors led to greater rape myth acceptance among men (but not among women). Using a broader sample of 76 women and 72 men via MTurk, Study 2 replicated these results and also found metaphor exposure led to greater rape myth acceptance and rape proclivity. Furthermore, a mediation analysis indicated that men exposed to these metaphors were more likely to accept rape myths, which in turn predicted their self-reported greater rape proclivity. Such results demonstrate the harmful outcomes that can result from describing romantic interactions where men are the predators and women are the prey.

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Correspondence to Jarrod Bock.

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Bock, J., Burkley, M. On the Prowl: Examining the Impact of Men-as-Predators and Women-as-Prey Metaphors on Attitudes that Perpetuate Sexual Violence. Sex Roles 80, 262–276 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-018-0929-1

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Keywords

  • Animalization
  • Dehumanization
  • Metaphors
  • Predator
  • Prey
  • Sexual aggression
  • Rape myth acceptance