Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 18 Issue 3 (May/June 2008), Pages 153-267

“If a girl doesn't say ‘no’…”: young men, rape and claims of ‘insufficient knowledge’ (pages 168-193)


Most psychological theories of rape tend to stress factors internal to both rapists and their victims in accounting for the phenomenon. Unlike such theories, social psychological and feminist accounts have drawn attention to social and cultural factors as productive of rape, and have criticized psychological accounts on the grounds that they often serve, paradoxically, to cement pre‐existing ‘common‐sense’. In this paper we examine the ways in which young Australian men draw upon widely culturally shared accounts, or interpretative repertoires, of rape to exculpate rapists. In particular, we discuss the reliance placed on a ‘lay’ version of Tannen's 1992 ‘miscommunication model’ of (acquaintance) rape and detail the use of this account—the claim that rape is a consequence of men's ‘not knowing’—as a device to accomplish exculpation. Implications of our methods for capturing young people's understanding of sexual coercion, rape and consent, and for the design of ‘rape prevention’ programmes, are discussed. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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