Rates of sexual aggression are higher among fraternity members than among other college men. Fraternity culture often engenders traditional masculine ideologies and risky sex-related attitudes that may reinforce sexual aggression. However, the process of how men internalize these ideologies is not well understood. It may be a process of selection, whereby men with more traditional masculine ideologies choose to join fraternities. Or, it may be a process of socialization, whereby being in a fraternity teaches men to adopt more traditional attitudes about gender.
In this paper, we used two longitudinal data sets to explore these selection and socialization effects. We found that men who more strongly endorsed male role norms about status and the sexual double standard were more likely to join fraternities, suggesting that men with more traditional attitudes about masculinity chose to join fraternities. We found little evidence to support the hypothesis that fraternities lead to more traditional ideologies about masculinity.
Many universities target fraternities as a context for training and intervention around sexual aggression. This intervention may be important given higher rates in these settings. However, our findings suggest that these young men may have preexisting attitudes that present risk for sexual aggression before joining fraternities. Thus, more work to target young men’s risky attitudes about masculinity and sexuality before students enter college may be particularly important in reducing rates of sexual violence on college campuses.
“Men with more traditional masculine ideologies choose to join fraternities first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on May 30, 2019.”