Hostile masculinity, often referred to as hostile masculinity syndrome, often manifests in rapists via two primary sets of attitudes and emotions (Malamuth, 2013). The first consists of hostile, distrustful, insecure feelings toward people, especially women. These feelings are accompanied by misogynous (i.e., woman-hating) attitudes. These attitudes include attitudinal rape myths, including a belief that women secretly desire to be raped. The second set of attitudes/emotions involves a desire to control and dominate women. These desires fuel sexual arousal and sexual gratification. It has been shown repeatedly that hostile masculinity is a strong predictor of sexual assault (e.g., Wheeler, George & Dahl, 2002).
Aggressive Sexual Beliefs
Closely related to hostile masculinity are aggressive sexual beliefs. These include any attitudes supportive of aggression, use of force, coercion, humiliation, or violence and sexuality. Agreement to such statements as "Get a woman drunk, high, or hot and she'll let you do whatever you want" may be indicative of aggressive sexual beliefs. Aggressive sexual beliefs are often linked to pedophilic acts, including sadism and masochism (discussed in Chapter 1). Recall that sexual sadism takes place when an individual receives sexual pleasure or excitement from the psychological or physical suffering of another person. Sexual masochism, on the other hand, involves sexual pleasure and gratification as a result of receiving psychological or physical suffering and pain. Much research has shown that people subscribing to such beliefs are more likely to commit sexual assault (e.g. Abbey, McAuslan, Zawacki, Clinton-Sherrod & Buck, 2003; Bernat, Wilson & Calhoun, 1999).
Some researchers have even argued that viewing adult pornography may be symptomatic of aggressive sexual beliefs. Evidence for this relationship, however, is mixed. Early researchers claimed that pornography predisposes some men to want to rape women or intensifies that predisposition in men already inclined to rape, as well as overriding internal and social inhibitions against acting out rape desires (Russell, 1988). A recent evaluation, however, revealed that consumption of pornography is negatively associated with rape victimization rates (i.e., the greater the consumption of pornography, the lower the rape victimization rate), both in the U.S. and other countries (Ferguson & Hartley, 2009). This suggests that the presumed pornography-rape connection is questionable and may be a product of exaggerated claims by politicians, pressure groups, and even some social scientists.
Finally, engaging in frequent casual sex or expectancy of impersonal sex is associated with sexual aggression. One study of college men found that high levels of impersonal sex, as well as hostile masculinity, strongly predict sexual aggression (Wheeler et al., 2002). Another study revealed that sexual-assault offenders were more likely than non-offenders to have high expectations for having sex earlier in a romantic relationship, as well as have more positive attitudes about casual sex (Abbey, Parkhill, Clinton-Sherrod & Zawacki, 2007).