Off-campus UNL users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your NU ID and password. When you are done browsing please remember to return to this page and log out.

Non-UNL users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Rape culture and sexual slang: A structured action approach

Katherine L Bass, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Feminist scholars argue that we are currently living in a rape culture, one where sex and violence are conflated, rape myths abound, and victim blaming is common (Buchwald 2005). This research examined sexual slang as an element of rape culture on a college campus. Framed by radical feminist analysis of patriarchy (Daly 1978, Dworkin 1993), I explored how sexual slang blurs the lines between consensual sex and rape through a subtheme of violence that maintains and recreates rape culture. Theoretically oriented in structured action theory (Messerschmidt 1997), I employed a mixed methods analysis to explore the complicated relationship between sexual slang, attitudes about rape, and gender. A survey of 412 undergraduate students provided a base-line list of student-employed slang for sex and their attitudes about rape and identified a correlational relationship between violent slang and victim blaming. A card sort and semi-structured interview with 15 students found that over 1/3 of slang contains student-defined elements of violence. Gender emerged as a key element in the relationship between violent sexual slang and rape culture in both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Controlling for gender, represented by sex category, eliminates the association between victim blaming and violent sexual slang in the quantitative analysis, and the use, creation, and interpretation of slang in general, and violent sexual slang specifically, are inextricably connected to patriarchal beliefs about men and women. Structured action theory (Messerschmidt 1987) explains how this slang perpetuates a rape culture and provides insights on how word choice can contribute to changing rape culture.

Subject Area

Social research

Recommended Citation

Bass, Katherine L, "Rape culture and sexual slang: A structured action approach" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3689803.