Screen Readers Skip to Content

Sexual Objectification Increases Female Fear of Crime

Author: Springer Science - Business Media
Published: 16th Jan 2015
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
Additional References: Sexual Bullying Publications

Summary: Explanation for why women fear face to face crime more than men, despite being less likely to experience most crimes.

Main Document

A study to be published in Sex Roles, published by Springer, offers an explanation for why women fear face-to-face crime more than men, despite being less likely to experience most crimes. The findings by Laurel Watson from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, support the theory that women may have a greater fear of crime due to the potential of also being raped during these encounters.

The researchers also found that sexual objectification plays a role in the ever-present perceived risk and fear of crime in both white and African American women.

"Our research supports previous findings that the rampant sexual objectification of women, an act of sexual terrorism, can heighten women's fears of incurring physical and sexual harm," says Watson.

All forms of sexual objectification share a common thread: a woman's body or body parts are separated from the rest of her person for another's consumption or enjoyment. The effect on appearance anxiety is well-known, but the current study is one of only a few to examine the impact on physical safety anxiety.

Some racial differences were observed.

African American women reported more sexual objectification experiences and fear of crime than white women, and were affected by greater links to psychological distress. The authors suggest further research with larger sample sizes to explore racial differences further.

The study involved 133 African American and 95 white female undergraduates.

Women at college experience rates of rape five-to-seven times higher than women of comparable age outside college. One in five American women are raped in their lifetime.

"Women bear the scar tissue of a sociocultural context where rape is epidemic," says Professor Watson. "Challenging and eradicating the widespread acceptance of sexual terrorism, in its many forms, is key to increasing women's sense of safety, freedom and movement in the world," she says.

Many measures, such as avoiding walking alone at night or carrying a method of protection - a sharp object or pepper spray - place the onus of maintaining safety on women rather than on the perpetrators of violence.

The authors suggest that initiatives aimed at changing the social acceptance of sexual objectification are needed, for example and

"Partnerships with men in stopping violence may help transform unequal power distributions between men and women - a chief reason why violence against women occurs in the first place," says Watson.

Reference: Watson L et al (2015). Understanding the Relationships Among White and African American Women's Sexual Objectification Experiences, Physical Safety Anxiety and Psychological Distress. Sex Roles; DOI 10.1007/s11199-014-0444-y.

Post to Twitter Add to Facebook

Latest Sexual Bullying Publications

The above information is from our reference library of resources relating to Sexual Bullying that includes:

Researchers were particularly interested in two types of empathy, affective and cognitive, and how they differed in cyberbullied children. Image Credit: Florida Atlantic University. thumbnail image
Florida Atlantic University study first to explore empathy types in early U.S. adolescents and the relationship to online bullying.
Publish Date: 8th Aug 2022 - Updated: 5th Jan 2023
Romantic Relationships Buffer Gay and Lesbian Youth from Emotional Distress thumbnail image.
Lesbian and gay youth showed significantly less psychological distress and were buffered against the negative effects of bullying and victimization when they were in a relationship.
Publish Date: 15th Feb 2018
Opinion: Sexual Harassment: Doing Nothing Not an Option thumbnail image.
While the current discussions of sexual harassment have raised awareness for many, it will be meaningless unless it results in a change of behavior.
Publish Date: 21st Dec 2017
Resilience to Adversity Determines if Children Survive or Thrive When Bullied thumbnail image.
Article looks at whether there is a major personal characteristic or trait that buffers and protects kids against internalizing the harm intended through bullying and cyberbullying.
Publish Date: 15th Oct 2017

1How Many Genders Are There?
Alphabetical list of gender identities.

2Transgender Reporting Guide
How to write about transgender people.

3Glossary of Sexuality Terms
Definitions of sexual terms & acronyms.

4Glossary of Sexual Identities
Definitions of gender related terms.

5Am I Gay? Questions to Ask
Think you may be gay or bisexual?

• Submissions: Send us your coming events and LGBTQ related news stories.

• Report Errors: Please report outdated or inaccurate information to us.

• (APA): Springer Science - Business Media . (2015, January 16). Sexual Objectification Increases Female Fear of Crime. Retrieved May 27, 2024 from

• Permalink: <a href="">Sexual Objectification Increases Female Fear of Crime</a>