- 90% of aggressive incidents involved men approaching 'easy-looking' women
- Level of harassment was linked to how drunk the woman - not the man - was
- These men may feel they can 'get away with it' because they consider bars to be a rule free environment, say the researchers
By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 12:32 GMT, 4 March 2014 | UPDATED: 13:29 GMT, 4 March 2014
The more drunk a woman looks in a bar, the more likely she is to be targeted by predatory men, a study has claimed.
Nine out of ten aggressive incidents in bars involved men approaching women because they look 'easy'.
The research, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, investigated sexual aggression in bars.
Risk: The more drunk a woman looks in a bar, the more likely she is to be perceived as an 'easy target' by predatory men, researchers claim
It found that men are more likely to show sexual aggression towards women who have had one too many.
And the level of harassment was linked to how drunk their targets are - and not their own intoxication.
Dr Kate Graham, from the University of Toronto said: 'Recent data suggests that aggression related to sexual advances is very common nowadays.
'Participants were recruited on their way to bars, and then asked additional questions about two common forms of sexual aggression we observed - unwanted sexual contact and unwanted persistence.
'When they were leaving the bar district, more than 50 per cent of women reported experiencing one or both types of sexual aggression on the evening of the exit survey.'
Dr Jeanette Norris, from the University of Washington added: 'Given the large number of young people who socialise together in bars, it is not surprising that a great deal of sexual assault occurs there.'
Experts believe that predatory men feel they can 'get away with it' because they consider bars to be a rule free environment.
'I don't think you could get away with this sort of thing in most settings,' said Dr Graham.
Danger: The level of harassment is linked to how drunk a woman has drunk, rather than the volume the man harassing her has consumed
'If a stranger came up to a woman, grabbed her around the waist, and rubbed his groin against her in a university cafeteria or on a subway, she'd probably call the police. In the bar, the woman just tries to get away from him.'
Dr Norris added: 'Bar-based aggression is almost certainly more likely to involve people who do not know each other very well or at all.
'This could have at least two consequences. First, perpetrators might be more likely to depersonalise and dehumanize the targeted woman.
'Second, it might lead perpetrators to feel more "protected", that is, to believe they are less likely to suffer any consequences for their actions.'
Researchers looked at 1,057 incidents of 'aggression' between 2000 and 2002 in a variety of different types of bars in Toronto, Canada.
Nine out of ten aggressive incidents involved men approaching 'easy-looking' women, experts claim
It was revealed that around a quarter (24.4 per cent) involved sexual aggression.
'We found that while misperceptions in the making and receiving of sexual advances do occur, especially in the highly sexualised environment characteristic of many bars.
'Most of it appeared to be intentional harassment or aggression done for the amusement or gratification of the person making the overture, or for the amusement of his friends,' said Dr Graham.
'Instead, women who are more intoxicated may be seen as easier or more blameworthy targets, or as targets less able to resist.
Researchers believe that this could do with how likely men feel they are to be caught.
'These men are the ultimate opportunists. What might also come into play are negative stereotypes about women who drink,' said Dr Norris.
'They may also be seen in generally negative or derogatory ways - as sluts, unfeminine, or generally not worthy of respect - which may provide an excuse for attacking women sexually.'
Researchers believe that avoiding having male security staff, putting up signs by bathrooms, and training bar staff to intervene earlier.
'There need to be clear messages to men about the inappropriateness of any type of sexual aggression, said Dr Norris.
'In addition, women need to learn to overcome messages they may have received early in life about being deferential or not wanting to cause embarrassment or 'create a scene.'
'Women need to be taught to stand up for themselves, to recognize that a sexually aggressive man is someone who has a problem and the onus should be placed on him to stop his unacceptable behaviour.'
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