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Theories of Crime - Essay Example

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In spite of the fact that rape is the most frequently committed violent crime in the United States, it is the least reported of all crimes. Nicole (p. 1) reported that only 36% of rape survivors seek assistance from criminal justice. Theories of Rape Rape has become recognized as a serious problem in the United States (Adler et al., 49). As a result, social researchers have become more interested in looking at the causes of rape (Rhonda 1). In spite of the research and public concern, theories attempting to outline the causes of rape have been minimal when compared to those of other crimes. The difficulty in developing a theory of rape may be due to the ambiguity of correlates, lack of knowledge of the social conditions that appear to be conducive to rape, and the lack of reliable data base for research. Social Learning Theory of Rape The Social Learning Theory of rape has its roots in research conducted in the 1960s, when it was found that repeated exposure to any type of stimulus tends to promote positive feelings toward that stimulus. Bandura suggested that aggression is learned primarily through imitation and is then sustained through intermittent positive reinforcement (Adler et al. 94). This imitation comes from the family and peers, culture, and (in most recent times) the media. He felt that the media was very influential in that it taught forms of aggression, showed very little of the normal societal restraints in expressing aggression, desensitized viewers to violence due to the repeated exposure to violent themes, and taught viewers to rationalize, excuse, and omit personal responsibility for aggression. The social learning theory views rape as aggressive behavior that is learned by four interrelated processes. The first process is the imitation of violence toward women as seen in real life or portrayed in the media. The second process is that sex is associated with violence. This comes from viewing violent pornography and slasher/horror films in which sex and violence are repeatedly depicted in the same context. The third process is the acceptance of rape myths, such as when a woman says "no," what she really means is "yes," and that women secretly like and/or wish to be raped. The fourth process is the desensitization to pain, fear, and the humiliation of sexual violence (Rhonda, 1). The social learning theory sees rape as the result of social and cultural learning. In addition, it sees aspects in our society that encourage men to exploit women. Social learning theory views cultural traditions as promoting sexual violence rather than the social and economic inequalities between the genders (Rhonda, 1). According to the social learning theory, rapists have been conditioned to think of violence in a sexual manner. This combination of sex and violence is therefore more arousing to the rapist than to other males, and several studies have supported this notion. Most of these studies were conducted by placing an instrument on the male subjects to measure penile erection. The male subjects then listened to descriptions of sexual episodes while in a secluded chamber. The results showed that convicted rapists' degree of arousal remained consistent, whether they listened to descriptions of consenting sexual activity or descriptions of rape. However, study conducted by Murphy et al. (cited in Pollard 18) that used videotape depictions of rape found no significant ...Show more
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[Author’s Name] Theories of Crime Introduction The United States has the highest rate of sexual assault of any industrialized country in the world. The National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) reported that approximately 17% woman have experienced rape at some point in her life (cited in Fisher 1)…
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