Masculine Ideologies, Institutional Sexism, and the Denial of Justice: The Unfounding of Rape

Cynthia L. Line, Rowan University

ABSTRACT
Consistent with other large cities, Philadelphia experienced a decline in violent crime during the 1990's. The declining violent crime rate in Philadelphia was partially due to the unfounding of a large number of rape complaints. This research suggests the unfounding of rape reports in the Philadelphia Police Department represents a common approach to the policing of rape and was most likely influenced by traditionally "masculine" belief systems permeating policing, including: 1) the sexualized workplace environment, 2) the persistence of rape myths, and 3) the prevailing belief that police are solely responsible for fluctuating crime rates and social control. It is suggested here that these beliefs synthesize to prevent effective rape policing. Further, this research suggest the ineffective policing of rape may not be random, but many demonstrate particular patterns. This research will utilize data obtained through the Philadelphia Police Department's special investigation into the unfounded rapes. Patterns present in the unfounded rapes will be explored in an attempt to determine if the unfounded rapes were limited to particular groups of women or geographical locations in the city.

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Updated 05/20/2006