Perceptions of feminist complainants in sexual assault and sexual harassment mock jury trials
Mazur, Jennifer Leah
Master of Arts
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Sexual assault and general violence towards women have been established as major issues in which feminists are involved (Hermann & Stewart, 1994). Through the use ofmock jury trial methods, it has been found that some characteristics of sexual assault survivors have an impact onjury decisions (Pollard, 1992). This study used a mockjury paradigm to explore attitudes toward sexual assault and sexual harassment complainants who are identified as feminists. Forty two male and 51 female students were randomly assigned as a mockjury to conditions in which the complainant in sexual assault and sexual harassment scenarios was either identified as a feminist or was not. Being identified as a feminist did not affect attributions of guilt and did not produce more negative stereotypes toward the complainant. In the non-feminist condition, the complainant in the sexual harassment scenario was likely to be labeled as a feminist by those who felt she was less credible. These results show that complainants who are labeled as a feminist are not more likely to be blamed or to be viewed according to negative stereotypes. However those who are viewed as making frivolous sexual harassment complainants are likely to be labeled as feminists.