‘Challenging the Myths’ Wins Book Award

Posted on September 3, 2020
Thomas Becnel

“Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, and Sexual Assault: Challenging the Myths,” a book by three University of South Alabama professors, has been selected for this year’s Women & Crime Book Award by the American Society of Criminology.

Dr. Corina Schulze, associate professor of political science and criminal justice, said she was surprised by recent news of the award.

“I wasn’t expecting anything like this,” she said. “I’m exceedingly proud of this book. I just thought it would take longer to be recognized in academia.”

Several years of research went into “Challenging the Myths.” It was written by Schulze, Dr. Sarah Koon-Magnin, an associate professor of political science and criminal justice, and Dr. Valerie Bryan, associate professor of social work. Dr. Amber Pope, a former assistant professor of professional studies at South, also did some of the research.

The authors introduced a new survey instrument, the Identity Inclusive Sexual Assault Myth Scale, to explore ideas and attitudes. They conducted surveys and did in-depth interviews to explore misconceptions in the gay and lesbian community.

“The people we talked to,” Schulze said, “they made our book what it is.”

Koon-Magnin has worked with Lifelines Counseling Services of Mobile. She’s also helped train volunteers who act as advocates for sexual assault victims at USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital.

Most sexual assaults are committed by men against women, but that is not always the case. There are many similarities of experience in gay and lesbian communities.

“In all cases, you’re more likely to be assaulted by someone you know,” Koon-Magnin said. “Anyone can be a victim; anyone can be a perpetrator. One of the myths we explored was that a woman cannot rape a woman. Several people in our study were women who had been assaulted by a female partner. Another idea was that men cannot be raped. Of course, that’s not true. Men can be sexually assaulted by women or other men.”

Public attitudes toward sexual assault are fraught with social, religious and political values. Studying gay attitudes often offers insights into straight communities.

“Anything which appears in the queer community is magnified,” Schulze said. “Whenever you look at marginalized communities, things are magnified.”

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