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The Paradoxical Relationship between Gender Inequality and Rape: Toward a Refined Theory

Rachel Bridges Whaley
Gender and Society
Vol. 15, No. 4 (Aug., 2001), pp. 531-555
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3081921
Page Count: 25
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The Paradoxical Relationship between Gender Inequality and Rape: Toward a Refined Theory
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Abstract

This article develops and tests a refined feminist theory of rape. The author proposes that the short-term effect of gender equality is an increased rape rate via increased threats to the status quo, whereas the long-term effect of gender equality is reduced rape rates via an improved social climate toward women. Using panel data for 109 U.S. cities over three decades-1970, 1980, and 1990-the author's expectations are generally confirmed. Because measures of inequality are used, supportive cross-sectional coefficients are negative and supportive lagged coefficients are positive. In the short term, gender inequality reduces the rape rate, whereas in the long term, higher levels of gender inequality are associated with higher levels of rape. Gender inequality in income, education, access to high-status occupations, and legal status are each positively associated with the change in rape in at least one change period (1970 to 1980, 1980 to 1990, and 1970 to 1990).

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