Feminist Agency, Sexual Scripts, and Sexual Violence: Developing a Model for Postgendered Family Communication

AuthorKelly R. Rossetto,Andrew C. Tollison
Published date01 February 2017
Date01 February 2017
K R. R Boise State University
A C. T Merrimack College
Feminist Agency, Sexual Scripts, and Sexual
Violence: Developing a Model for Postgendered
Family Communication
Weexplore the interrelated research on intersec-
tionality, feminist agency, script theory, and gen-
der socialization to uncover the ways in which
college students may experience institutional-
ized sexual scripts and perceptions of agency
in sexual encounters. We theorize that changes
at the family level could ultimately help cre-
ate a shift in a campus culture that has become
entrenched, with biased sexual scripts that lead
to power imbalances and sexual violence. With
underpinnings of social role theory and mod-
eling, this article develops a model of postgen-
dered family communication. Practical family
communication suggestions based on the model
are provided for parents and family educators
that could help shift sexual scripts, enable femi-
nist agency, and improve rates of sexual assault
incidence and reporting at the institutional level.
In 2014, the Association of American Univer-
sities conducted an empirical assessment of
university students’ attitudes and experiences
regarding sexual assault and sexual miscon-
duct. Across 27 universities, 11.7% of students
across enrollment status and gender reported
Department of Communication, Boise State University,
Boise, ID (kellyrossetto@boisestate.edu).
Key Words: Family communication, feminist agency,gender
socialization, sexual scripts, sexual violence.
experiencing nonconsensual sexual contact
since enrolling in college. The reported inci-
dence was distinctly higher among transgender,
genderqueer, and nonconforming (24.1%)
and female (23.1%) undergraduate students
(Cantor et al., 2015). The higher percentages
are consistent with previous research, which
has reported that 19% of female undergraduates
experience sexual assault (Krebs, Lindquist,
Warner, Fisher, & Martin, 2009) and that trans-
gender young adults are at particularly high risk
of sexual assault (Lombardi, Wilchins, Priesing,
& Malouf, 2002).
In line with the high rates of sexual assault,
the Association of American Universities inves-
tigation found that 20.2% of students reported
sexual assault or misconduct as very problem-
atic or extremely problematic. However, only
5% of surveyed students felt it was very or
extremely likely they would experience sexual
assault on campus, and only 13.3% of victims of
penetration involving incapacitation and 25.5%
of victims of forced penetration reported their
assault to an agency (e.g., Title IX ofce,campus
ofcials, law enforcement; Cantor et al., 2015).
Key barriers associated with underreporting sex-
ual assault include concerns regarding con-
dentiality, fear of not being believed, shame,
guilt, embarrassment, emotional difculty, lack
of condence in institutional support, and con-
siderations of seriousness (Cantor et al., 2015;
Sable, Danis, Mauzy, & Gallagher, 2006) or
Family Relations 66 (February 2017): 61–74 61

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT