The Role of Sexual Competition in Violent Events Among Adolescent Males

Deanna L. Wilkinson, Temple University

Descriptive analyses of the nature of violent events have shown that issues related to sexual competition and gender relations in society spark a significant portion of interpersonal violence between males (Oliver, 1994; Wilkinson, 2002). Social interaction among adolescent males reflects a growing interest and preoccupation with sexuality and heterosexual companionship. Violence is one of many strategies used by young males to create and sustain relationships with females in a context where competition is perceived as intense. This paper includes empirical data on decision-making and situational factors in 850 violent events reported by a sample of 400 urban youth aged 16 to 24 (an estimated 30% will be related to sexual violence). These situations typically resulted from sexual competition (both maintenance and acquisition), the protection of a girl's honor or reputation, the defense of a female after physical victimization, the spread of rumors and the escalation of disputes through gossip, and the amplification of impression management in the presence of a relevant female. Event Structure Analysis (ESA) will be used to deconstruct the violent events. ESA is a qualitative methodology developed for understanding sequential events in narrative data that offers an alternative system for analyzing event-level data (Heise, 1997).

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Updated 05/20/2006