Female College Students Constructing Resistance to Campus Sexual Violence: A Preliminary Theory

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0002-9449-8430
Poole, Jennifer, Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Inkelas, Karen, EN-Office of Diversity & Engagement, University of Virginia

Guided by feminist standpoint epistemology, this study addresses the following central research question: How do female college students construct their resistance to campus sexual violence? The subset of questions that pertained to this central research question include: 1) How do female college students construct campus sexual violence as a problem? 2) How do female college students describe their resistance to campus sexual violence, in terms of oppositional agency? 3) How do female college students utilize #MeToo as a discursive space, for thinking and talking about resistance to sexual violence? In order to answer these research questions, 11 focus groups were conducted with 54 undergraduate women at a large, residential, public university on the east coast of the United States. Constructivist grounded theory methodology was also used, to collect and analyze these perspectives into theory for resistance to campus sexual violence.
The findings of this study emerged as a substantive, discursive, theoretical process: ‘Female College Students Constructing Resistance to Campus Sexual Violence,’ with the assistance of Corbin and Strauss’ (1990) coding paradigm (p. 18). This process was driven by six categories, grouped into three main concepts: the conditions surrounding female college students constructing resistance to campus sexual violence; the actions/interactions that comprised their construction of resistance; and the consequences of this discursive process, which emerged as four exemplary domains of women’s resistance: protecting selves from sexual violence perpetration, achieving consensual sex with male students, recognizing women and victims of sexual violence, and asserting sexual autonomy. The grounded theory that resulted from this study has implications for empirical research, feminist scholarship, and the administrative practices used to educate and empower women related to sexual violence. It also promotes the voices of female college students as authoritative sources of knowledge, to show that women need not be distant from victimization to be talked about and treated as resisting sexual violence.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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