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Everyday Stranger Harassment and Women’s Objectification

Abstract

The present research suggests that stranger harassment (i.e., experiencing unwanted sexual attention from strangers in public) is a frequent experience for young adult women, and that it has negative implications for their well-being. First, stranger harassment was positively related to self-objectification (Fredrickson & Roberts, Psychol Women Quart 21:173–206 1997). This was true for women who coped with stranger harassment using common strategies (passive, self-blame, or benign), but not for women who used an uncommon, active coping strategy (e.g., confronting the harasser). Second, stranger harassment experiences and self-objectification were positively related to women’s fear of and perceived risk of rape. Further, women who feared rape were more likely to restrict their freedom of movement. In concert, the findings suggest that stranger harassment may have both direct and indirect negative effects on women’s lives, and that it is a phenomenon worthy of future research.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. The two factors that emerged had eigenvalues greater than 1.00 and accounted for 51% of the variance, but they were not conceptually illuminating.

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Acknowledgments

This research was partially supported by Grant BCS-0417335 from the National Science Foundation.

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Correspondence to Kimberly Fairchild.

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Fairchild, K., Rudman, L.A. Everyday Stranger Harassment and Women’s Objectification. Soc Just Res 21, 338–357 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11211-008-0073-0

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Keywords

  • Stranger harassment
  • Sexual harassment
  • Self-objectification
  • Fear of rape