From mace to restricted movement: feminist social control theory and college women's fear of rape

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Virginia Tech


This research utilizes feminist social control theory to explore college women's fear of crime, specifically rape. Elements within this analysis include: comparisons of males and females on their relative fear of crime in both stranger and acquaintance situations, an assessment of behavioral/social self-restrictions, and an examination of the relative impact of previous victimization on women's fear. Data are derived from a self-administered questionnaire from a non-probability sample of 217 male and female Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University undergraduates in the fall of 1994. Consistent with the hypothesis, women report significantly higher rates of fear in both acquaintance and stranger situations, and also report employing significantly more crime preventative measures than men. However, regression analyses reveal that while gender, acquaintance and stranger fear all have a statistically significant impact on precautionary use, neither fear of rape, nor previous rape victimization are significant. Policy implications and areas for future research are explored.



fear of crime, campus crime, criminology