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Abstract

We offer the first quantitative analysis of rape culture in the United States. Observers have long worried that biased news coverage of rape — which blames victims, empathizes with perpetrators, implies consent, and questions victims' credibility — may deter victims from coming forward, and ultimately increase the incidence of rape. We present a theory of how rape culture might shape the preferences and choices of perpetrators, victims and law enforcement, and test this theory with data on news stories about rape published in U.S. newspapers between 2000 and 2013. We find that rape culture in the media predicts both the frequency of rape and its pursuit through the local criminal justice system. In jurisdictions where rape culture was more prevalent, there were more documented rape cases, but authorities were less vigilant in pursuing them.

Citation

Baum, Matthew A., Dara Kay Cohen, and Yuri M. Zhukov. "Does Rape Culture Predict Rape? Evidence from U.S. Newspapers, 2000–2013." Quarterly Journal of Political Science 13.3 (September 2018): 263-289.
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