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Sikweyiya, Y., Machisa, M., Mahlangu, P., Nunze, N., Dartnall, E., Pillay, M., & Jewkes, R. (2023). “I don’t want to be known as a weak man”: Insights and rationalizations by male students on men’s sexual violence perpetration against female students on campus. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(5), 4550. MDPI.


Understanding how men view rape is foundational for rape prevention, but it is not always possible to interview men who rape, especially in a college campus context. We explore male students’ insights into and rationalizations for why men on campus perpetrate sexual violence (SV) against female students by analysing qualitative focus group discussion data with male students. Men contended that SV is a demonstration of men’s power over women, yet they did not perceive sexual harassment of female students as serious enough to constitute SV and appeared to be tolerant of it. Men perceived “sex for grades” as exploitative and rooted in the power asymmetry between privileged male lecturers and vulnerable female students. They were disdainful of non-partner rape, describing it as acts exclusively perpetrated by men from outside campus. Most men felt entitled to have sex with their girlfriends, although an alternative discourse challenged both this entitlement and the dominant masculinity linked to it. Gender-transformative work with male students is needed to support them to think and do things differently while they are on campus.
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