Dismantling rape culture: a critical examination of androcentrism in America

Sexual violence is a pervasive problem on colleges that affects 20% of college women (Burnett et al., 2009). Moreover, the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN) (2011) reported that 90% of the rapes against college women are committed by just 3-7% of college men. To continue in the tradition of feminist scholars, the purpose of this study was to assess the influence of a male-dominated culture on the lived experience of college students and its relationship to rape culture (androcentric society) in order to facilitate in the transformation of society from one that condones rape to one that dismantles it by raising conscientização (critical consciousness) (Freire, 1970; 1993). This study is framed by Muted Group Theory and Five Faces of Oppression which together form a meta-theory, and used phenomenological research methods (interviews and the administration of an online survey), and focused on eight (N=8) interview participants, and (N=108) survey participants. The findings resulted in the emergence offive themes and 20 assertions. The first theme Gender Identity and Social Positioning centers on how college students are both positioned within society as a result of their gender and navigate the tensions between their own desired identity and societal expectations. The second theme Socialization and Sexual Violence and centers on the factors which influence college students’ attitudes towards sexual violence and victims of sexual assault. The third theme The Experience of Sexual Violence centers on the college students personal experiences of sexual violence and the impact that it has had on their identity and college experiences. The fourth theme Consent & Policy Literacy centers on how college students’ define consent and understand SB 967 (Yes-Means-Yes policy), and how efficacious they perceive it to be. The fifth Transforming a College Rape Culture centers on college students’ bystander attitudes and their demand for early rape prevention education with an explicit focus on consent. These findings have policy, curricular, and leadership implications. The contribution that makes this study provides is the utility of three meta-models, two for problematizing the problem of muting and oppression (Faces of Women’s Oppression and Androcentric Oppression) and one for problem-posing (Dismantlement of Androcentric Oppression). What makes these models unique is their invitation for researchers to continue theorizing about the problem of sexual violence and strengthen the opportunities for dismantling the cultural ideologies that maintain it as a silent epidemic.