I thank Elaine Sieff, Oscar H. Gandy, Jr., Merton Hyman, and Elaine Keramidas for their helpful advice. An earlier version of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, August 13, 1993, Miami, FL.
Empirical and Theoretical Dimensions of Obscene Phone Calls to Women in the United States
Article first published online: 17 MAR 2006
Human Communication Research
Volume 21, Issue 2, pages 155–182, December 1994
How to Cite
KATZ, J. E. (1994), Empirical and Theoretical Dimensions of Obscene Phone Calls to Women in the United States. Human Communication Research, 21: 155–182. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.1994.tb00344.x
- Issue published online: 17 MAR 2006
- Article first published online: 17 MAR 2006
A survey of 354 women (apparently the first representative national sample) found that 16% had received at least one obscene phone call (OPC) within the 6 months preceding the survey. The majority of calls appear to be targeted in some way. Women less than 65 years of age and those who were neither married nor widowed were more likely to receive an OPC. Five theoretical propositions were examined. Two were not supported: namely, that OPCs are pure random incidents or are attacks on socioeconomically powerful women. Two others were reasonably well-supported: that OPC receipt is explained by displaced aggression against a vulnerable population or by perceived availability (a modification of criminal opportunity theory). There was also strong empirical support for the final proposition that sees OPCs occurring in a pattern statistically similar to that of rape.