Men's (Normalized) Sexual Violence Against Intimate Partners

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Jeffrey, Nicole

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University of Guelph


Men’s sexual violence (SV) against women remains common, especially in intimate relationships (Smith et al., 2017; Wegner, Pierce, & Abbey, 2014). Using three studies, I answered two key questions in this dissertation relating to university men’s intimate partner sexual violence (IPSV) in my samples: (a) what did IPSV look like? and (b) how did men socially construct and support IPSV? In the first study, I used a survey with 441 Canadian university men to examine incidence rates of different types of IPSV, contextual features of perpetrators’ IPSV incidents, and perpetrators’ perceptions of the effects of their IPSV. I found that 15.87% of my sample reported at least one instance of using SV in their most recent heterosexual relationship in the past year. The most common tactic was verbal coercion and the most common sexual act was oral sex. Men’s most memorable incidents often occurred either in their own or their partner’s home and involved alcohol consumption. Most men reported no effects of their IPSV on their relationships. In the second study, I used interviews with a subset of 10 men from the survey study who had perpetrated IPSV. I used a feminist poststructuralist form of discourse analysis and examined men’s talk about their use of a range of SV in intimate relationships. In the third study, I used a feminist poststructuralist form of discourse analysis and examined how 29 Canadian university men talked and negotiated conversations about heterosexuality in intimate relationships in focus groups with other men. In the latter two studies, I found that men drew on dominant discourses about (a) SV and (b) heterosexuality in ways that worked to normalize SV. In the third study, I also examined the rhetorical function of men’s talk and found that they often used language that was difficult for other men to challenge. Ultimately, I argue that men’s talk and dominant discourses about SV and normative heterosexuality work to construct versions of heterosexuality that are male-centered and violent, thus, maintaining gendered power relations between women and men.



psychology, violence against women, sexual violence, sexual assault, rape, perpetration, intimate partner violence, men, discourse, heterosexuality, masculinity