Common Rape Myths and Analysis: the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale

Scientific paper by Diana L. Payne, Kimberly A. Lonsway, and Louise F. Fitzgerald, Journal of Research in Personality 33, 27–68 (1999)

The paper explores common rape myths and devises a new model for analysing them, the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale.

Abstract. “A series of six studies were conducted to explore the structure underlying rape myths and to develop the 45-item Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale (‘‘IRMA’’). In the first study, 604 participants (mean age 18.8 years, 53% women) rated their level of agreement with 95 pretested rape myth statements. Exploratory and confirmatory multivariate analyses revealed a structure consisting of both a general myth component and seven subcomponents. This structure was replicated in a second study using a new sample and paired comparisons methodology. Study 3 details the development procedures for the IRMA and presents statistics demonstrating its good psychometric properties. Finally, Studies 4–6 support the construct validity of the IRMA. Findings are discussed in terms of their implications for theory, measurement, future research, and intervention.”

Here are just some of the 45 rape myths outlined by the authors:

1. If a woman is raped while she is drunk, she is at least somewhat responsible for letting things get out of control.
2. Although most women wouldn’t admit it, they generally find being physically forced into sex a real ‘‘turn-on.’’
3. When men rape, it is because of their strong desire for sex.
4. If a woman is willing to ‘‘make out’’ with a guy, then it’s no big deal if he goes a little further and has sex.
5. Women who are caught having an illicit affair sometimes claim that it was rape.

7. Many so-called rape victims are actually women who had sex and ‘‘changed their minds’’ afterwards.
9. Rape mainly occurs on the ‘‘bad’’ side of town.

12. If a woman doesn’t physically fight back, you can’t really say that it was rape.
13. Men from nice middle-class homes almost never rape.

15. When women go around wearing low-cut tops or short skirts, they’re just asking for trouble.
16. Rape accusations are often used as a way of getting back at men.

17. A rape probably didn’t happen if the woman has no bruises or marks.
20. Rapists are usually sexually frustrated individuals.

24. If the rapist doesn’t have a weapon, you really can’t call it a rape.
28. In reality, women are almost never raped by their boyfriends.
29. Women tend to exaggerate how much rape affects them. 

36. A woman who ‘‘teases’’ men deserves anything that might happen.
38. If a woman isn’t a virgin, then it shouldn’t be a big deal if her date forces her to have sex.
42.  Rape happens when a man’s sex drive gets out of control.

Read the full article here: Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale