Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Sociology/Criminal Justice

Committee Director

Elizabeth Monk-Turner (Director)

Committee Member

Erika Frydenlund

Committee Member

Vanessa Panfil

Abstract

“Rowdy and fun. Hope your baby girl is ready for a good time…” This statement was on the first of three banners hung from a fraternity home’s balcony on freshman move-in day. The second banner stated, “Freshman drop off here” with an arrow pointing to the front door of the home. The final banner suggested, “Go ahead and drop off mom too…” These banners demonstrated the explicit implementation of rape culture in the university setting. Rape culture includes humor that normalizes violence against women, such as the alleged joke that constituted the ODU banner incident. This research explored societal responses to the banner incident and sought out to expose ideologies that perpetuate rape culture at higher-learning institutions through grounded theory and a feminist framework. A content analysis of community comments on a digital media platform, i.e. a local news stations’ Facebook page, demonstrated that overall, most commenters tolerated and accepted rape culture while in joke format, and that sexist actions taken by men in college are justified by their age, college location, and alleged sexuality through the “boys will be boys” and hegemonic masculinity ideologies. This research is crucially important in demonstrating that first, institutions must do a better job at expelling rape culture from college life, and second, that although society has made significant strides toward gender equality, there is still much room to improve.

ISBN

9781369169218

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