In an effort to understand the underlying causes of rape, researchers have looked at a number of psychosocial and sociobiological factors.

Psychosocial Basis of Rape

Many researchers and clinicians view rape more as a product of social­ization processes that occur within the fabric of "normal" society than as a product of the individual rapist’s pathological condition (Hill &

Fischer, 2001; Hines, 2007; Simonson & Subich, 1999). Strong sup­port for the view that rape is in many ways a cultural phenomenon was provided by the research of Peggy Reeves Sanday (1981), an anthropologist who compared the incidences of rape in 95 societies.

Sanday’s research indicated that the frequency of rape in a given society is influenced by several factors. Foremost among these were the nature of the relations between the sexes, the status of women, and the attitudes that boys acquire during their developmental years. San – day found that "rape-prone" societies tolerate and even glorify mascu­line violence, encouraging boys to be aggressive and competitive, and they view physical force as natural and exemplary. In these societies, men tend to have greater economic and political power than women, remaining aloof from "womens work," such as child rearing and house­hold duties. These traits are especially pronounced in one markedly rape-prone society, South Africa, where a recent study found that 37% of men acknowledged they had raped a woman (Tay, 2010).

In contrast, relations between the sexes are quite different in societies where there is virtually no rape. Women and men in "rape – free" societies share power and authority and contribute equally to the community welfare. In addition, children of both sexes in these societies are raised to value nurturance and to avoid aggression and violence. With this cultural framework in mind, let us take a closer look at some of the aspects of male socialization in our own culture that contribute to the occurrence of rape and other forms of sexual coercion.

The high rate of rape in the United States is associated with widespread stereotypi­cal gender roles. Males in our society are often taught that power, aggressiveness, and getting what one wants—by force, if necessary—are all part of the proper male role. Furthermore, they frequently learn that they should seek sex and expect to be success – ful—often with few qualms about using unethical means to achieve their goal. A recent study that investigated the attitudes of over 200 boys age 14 found that "believing that

rape is acceptable in some situations may account for adolescent boys’ per­petration of forced sex on girls" (Manet & Herbe, 2011, p. 372).

It is not surprising, therefore, that many U. S. men view aggression as a legitimate means to obtain sexual access to women. Men whose peer groups openly legitimize and support these attitudes and behaviors are particularly likely to victimize women sexually (Sanday, 1996).