Saturday, April 19, 2008

Lesbianism and being the victim of sexual violence: I promised to report estimates of sexual violence victimization among 1,470 female college students across categories of sexual orientation. Respondents were asked if they had been the victim of various levels of sexual coercion since age 14. Here are the percentages who answered yes:


Percent who engaged in sex play between 14 and current age (college student)

Overwhelmed by male's coaxing and pressure
Straight 40.0
Bisexual 47.8
Lesbian 50.0
Unsure 42.9

Because of the male's position of authority
Straight 4.6
Bisexual 13.0
Lesbian 16.7
Unsure 28.6

Because of being forced
Straight 9.9
Bisexual 21.7
Lesbian 25.0
Unsure 28.6


Percent who experienced attempted intercouse between age 14 and current age (college student)

Because of being drugged
Straight 11.7
Bisexual 39.1
Lesbian 33.3
Unsure 14.3

Because of being forced
Straight 12.5
Bisexual 34.8
Lesbian 25.0
Unsure 21.4


Percent who experience intercourse between age 14 and current age (college students)

Overwhelmed by male's coaxing and pressure
Straight 22.1
Bisexual 39.1
Lesbian 33.3
Unsure 35.7

Because of male's position of authority
Straight 1.4
Bisexual 4.3
Lesbian 16.7
Unsure 21.4

Because of being drugged
Straight 6.6
Bisexual 21.7
Lesbian 41.7
Unsure 14.3

Because of being forced
Straight 6.5
Bisexual 17.4
Lesbian 25.0
Unsure 14.3


The pattern holds up for all these different situations: it is clear that more non-straights are victims. The possibility was raised in the earlier post that lesbians are more willing to report abuse (I have shown that liberal women are much more likely to say they have been sexually harassed) but the questions are specific enough, I doubt that the reporting differences are large.

Other readers have suggested a genetic explanation for that the correlation between early sexual contact and homosexuality, and they emphasize that much abuse is committed by family members. From this idea we would predict that lesbians would be more likely than straights to be victimized by family members.

There is some evidence for this. As children, 33.4% of abusers of non-heterosexual females were relatives, compared to 24.2% of straight women (I combined lesbians, bisexuals, and unsures to maximize the very small sample size). The percentages for the teen years are 12.5% and 3.5%.

And I found the same pattern for male victims: 26.9% of non-heterosexuals had early sexual contact with family members, compared to only 6.2% of abused straights. But even if we lower the share of non-heterosexuals abused by relatives to that of straights, a large difference in the overall risk of abuse remains.

So, these results shown here support both the idea that there might be some tendency for pedophilia and homosexuality to run in families due perhaps to genes, as well as the idea that lesbianism may, in part, be the product of early traumatic heterosexual victimization.

6 comments:

Rob said...

Ron, thanks again for the answer in the previous thread.

How do heterosexual and other women compare for total sex play, etc. voluntary or not?

It could be that all girls experience roughly the same number of instances, but nonheterosexuals don't consent, so it isn't voluntary. One day I'll learn to use the GSS...

OTOH, kids who are different from their peers tend to have fewer friends and less social support, are a probably hungrier for attention and approval. I could see predatory men and boys disproportionately targeting children like that for sexual misbehavior.

Anonymous said...

This is unscientific, but just from reading stuff in the papers and in magazines, many lesbians seem to have been abused in childhood. Anne Heche is the most famous example I can think of.

tggp said...

As I noted here, I wanted to find data on violence against lesbians in the GSS, but had no luck. I read somewhere that there were GAY and GAYORBI variables, but when I tried using them it said they were invalid.

Jason Malloy said...

T Geep,

There is no variable asking for sexual identity in the GSS, so you have to use behavior as a proxy. Lifetime number of opposite sex partners would work (0 for opposite, 1 or more for same), but will probably create an atypical sample since the grand majority of homosexuals have had opposite sex partners (Indeed, I have argued - against most current homosexuality researchers who accept the J curve - that there is a Gaussian distribution).

So you might use men or women who report only having same sex in the last year or 5 years as 'homosexual'.

SFG said...

Jason, the distribution you describe in your post isn't Gaussian (you expect me to believe the probability density function of the Kinsey score is exp((x-3)^2)?), or even a bell curve with most men bi and fewer men straight or gay. You might be right about the bi thing but I'd try a different distribution. I'd recommend a beta distribution, since you have variation between two extremes.

Eva Kenieva said...

This is unscientific, but as a lesbian who wasn't molested, I'm going to hazard a guess that the difference is in how these women feel about the experiences. A lot of teenage girls will experiment with boys or men, motivated by combinations of curiosity and pressure. If they're straight, they're more likely to forget the pressure - they were being pressured to do something they wanted to do - and remember it as a good experience they consented to. If they later realize they're gay, they're more likely to have bitter memories of it, plus they generally don't much enjoy the experience and thus their memory magnifies the pressure more.

That is just a guess. My mother thinks that I'm gay because the boys I went to school with were so horrible, but remembering the way I thought about other girls in early childhood, I don't think that has anything to do with it.