How Widespread Is Sexual Deviance? Essay

1146 words - 5 pages

Sociologists have studied violence in dating since the early 1950s. In 1957, Kirkpatrick and Kanin reported that 56 percent of university women in America had been offended by at least one forceful attempt at intimacy (necking, petting, or intercourse) during the last year. Almost 21 percent of these women had encountered forceful attempts at sexual intercourse. In a second study, Kanin reported that 62 percent of freshmen women encountered some type of sex aggression during their senior year in high school. Over 5 percent of the freshmen women reported forceful attempts at sexual intercourse with "menacing threats or coercive infliction of physical pain."Dozens of studies over the next three decades report similar figures. For example, Wilson and Faison (1979) reported that 62 percent of university women encountered some type of sex aggression, and 10 percent were victims of forceful attempts at sexual intercourse that involved violence. Makepeace (1981) reports that 21 percent of college women are victims of courtship violence.Sociologists have asked men whether they use force with their dates. The first study was by Eugene Kanin (1967), who reported that 26 percent of full-time undergraduate males reported they made at least one forceful and offensive attempt at sexual intercourse during the last year. In 1977, Rebecca Faison reported that 22 percent of college men persisted in attempts at sexual intimacy after they perceived their actions to be disagreeable to their date. Wilson, Faison, and Britton (1983) reported that 26 percent of college males engaged in forceful and offensive attempts at sexual intercourse.Clearly, sex aggression and date rape are a stable and consistent part of our social environment. This stability suggests social causes that have survived extensive changes in American dating patterns. This lecture will discuss two major explanations of date rape.The first explanation is derived from macrosociology and Robert Merton's theory of anomie (1957). Merton argues that there are certain goals that are widely defined as desirable. For example, people want to earn a good salary so they can afford a reasonable standard of living. Once people have internalized a culturally prescribed goal, they will strive to achieve it. Since large numbers of people are pursuing similar goals, there must be some socially structured means of achieving them. This society provides free public education as the major socially structured means of achieving economic goals. As long as the means are available to achieve culturally prescribed goals, the system functions smoothly. When there is some type of disjunction, structural strain or anomie result, and people turn to deviant means to achieve their goals. Culturally disadvantaged groups not having equal access to education may be expected to commit more property crimes.A similar situation can arise during courtship. Many young people define sexual intimacy as a desirable goal within courtship....

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