A Sociocultural View of Sexual Assault: From Discrepancy to Diversity


Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC 27412.


Previous analyses of the cultural context of sexual assault have focused on social and demographic correlates of rape, or associations between the acceptance of rape myths and sociocultural beliefs and attitudes. Papers in this journal issue extend this perspective to definitions of rape and characteristics of the research enterprise. They also examine the association between specific sociocultural influences on the reporting of sexual assault, victims' experiences of and reactions to sexual assault, and perpetrator motives, as well as society's responses as reflected in the media and the judicial system. It is concluded that systematic analysis of sociocultural factors allows discrepancies in definitions, methods, results, and interpretations to be reconceptualized as diversity which is orderly and can be understood.