'The Powerful Ones': Exploring Young Men’s Understandings of Sexual Violence and Rape Culture in Aotearoa New Zealand
The centralising of women within institutional responses to sexual violence (Ministry of Justice, 2019) and sexual violence scholarship (Fanslow & Robinson, 2004a, 2011; Fanslow, Robinson, Crengle, & Perese, 2010; Gavey, 1991; Jordan, 2004, 2008) consequently means that despite men being both the primary perpetrators of sexual violence, and whose privileged identities create and maintain rape culture, men often remain invisible within sexual violence discourse. To gain insight into how young men understand sexual violence, rape culture, and their own identity within these structures, this research involved (n=11) qualitative semi-structured interviews with cisgender men aged between 18-30 who identified as heterosexual. These interviews highlighted the complexities of participant’s comprehension of sexual violence, particularly regarding the typology and motivations of offenders, the relationship between gender, alcohol, power and consent, and the various perceived causes of sexual violence. Participants also signalled the importance of comprehensive consent and sex education as a method of sexual violence prevention. This research is essential to responsibilise sexual violence prevention as the obligation of men, effectively inform prevention, intervention and response measures, and work towards ultimately eradicating sexual violence and the wider rape culture in Aotearoa New Zealand.