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Gender Role Strain, Hookup Culture, and Sexual Violence
AuthorMaletsky, Lisa D.
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Sexual violence on college campuses is a pervasive public health issue that can result in a range of long-term mental and physical health consequences. The following multi-step study examined the precursors of being a perpetrator or a victim of sexual violence among college students by focusing on gender role strain (GRS) and hookup culture. GRS is the experience of distress when one fails to live up to their gender ideal. Hookup culture is the belief that casual sex within the context of gendered rules is the norm for college students. Both GRS and hooking up have been empirically linked to sexual violence experiences. The study proposed that experiences of GRS increase participation in hookups, thereby providing increased opportunities to both perpetrate and experience sexual violence; these relationships are experienced differently for men and women. The study collected two waves of data via surveys from undergraduate students at a western mid-sized public university. The first round of data collection conducted exploratory factor analysis to refine altered and created GRS items for the construction of a new GRS (NGRS) measure. The NGRS sought to expand measurement by allowing participants to select ideals and express distress in ways that may or may not conform to traditional gender roles. The second wave of data collection sought to test hypotheses using both the NGRS and traditional measures of GRS (TGRS) with the primary outcomes of interest, hookup frequency and sexual violence (e.g., harassment, interpersonal violence, and sexual assault). Moderated mediation logistic regression analyses in SPSS and Mplus were conducted to examine results by each subsample.NGRS results indicated that both discrepant and congruent effects were positively and significantly associated with many sexual violence outcomes. NGRS discrepancy effects, however, were not significantly associated with hookup frequency, precluding mediation analyses. TGRS results found many significant cross-gender results. Specifically, feminine GRS was associated with perpetrating sexual violence for male participants, only. Masculine GRS was associated with protective effects for female participants. Participation in hookup culture increased experiences of sexual violence perpetration and victimization. The current study advanced the literature in several ways. First, it examined actual sexual violence behaviors versus attitudes, strengthening the association between GRS and experienced outcomes. For the first time, it investigated FGRS in men, linking it to sexual violence perpetration. The created NGRS measure provided flexibility for traditional and non-traditional gender adhering individuals to report GRS, expanding the concept of GRS. Finally, results highlight avenues for prevention practices.