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A new study conducted by researchers at the University of North Dakota found that one in three college men might rape a woman if they knew no one would find out.

This would be a good time to save your comments about how women can prevent rapists from raping, especially if said comment has anything to do with what garments of clothing a woman decides she wants to wear.

Interestingly enough, the number of men who admitted they might rape a woman if no one found out drastically dropped when researchers actually used the word ‘rape’ — a clear indication that men don’t associate “the act of forcing a woman to have sex with them with the crime of committing rape,” according to Think Progress.

According to the survey, which analyzed responses from 73 men in college, 31.7 percent of participants said they would act on “intentions to force a woman to sexual intercourse” if they were confident they could get away with it. When asked whether they would act on “intentions to rape a woman” with the same assurances they wouldn’t face consequences, just 13.6 percent of participants agreed.

Researchers hope to replicate the experiment on a larger scale in the future, since they used a very small sample size this time around. However, they still think their findings could help inform the current conversation about campus sexual assault, which has dominated national headlines over the past several years.

“The No. 1 point is there are people that will say they would force a woman to have sex but would deny they would rape a woman,” Sarah R. Edwards, an assistant professor of counseling psychology at the University of North Dakota and the lead researcher for the study, told Newsweek.

It’s strange, but not surprising that men in our society can’t see what’s negative about forcing a woman to have sex. The university’s findings tell a sordid tale of rape culture in our media, our schools, and homes — a culture that has no doubt contributed to the rampant numbers of campus assaults and lack of attention those attacks are given by school authorities and law enforcement.

A culture that almost if not definitely celebrates the “callous sexual attitudes” identified by Edwards’ team:

Edwards’ team also tried to gauge the college men’s approach to the opposite gender. They found that the men who were comfortable admitting their “intentions to rape” displayed a wide range of outwardly hostile attitudes toward women. The men who rejected the “rape” language, but said they would still use force against a woman, didn’t display that level of outward hostility. But they were still linked with what the researchers defined as “callous sexual attitudes”: a set of cultural stereotypes about women as objects and men as aggressors that feeds into hyper-masculinity.

“Given that callous sexual attitudes permit violence and consider women as passive sexual objects, it follows that for men who endorse these, sexual aggression becomes an appropriate and accepted expression of masculinity,” the researchers write. “In this sense, using force to obtain intercourse does not become an act of rape, but rather an expression of hyper-masculinity, which may be thought of as a desirable disposition in certain subcultures.”

Enter another symptom of rape culture — absolving bad behavior for people who commit rape using gender as it relates to societal norms. So the question remains: How are we to combat rape when those who will potentially rape do not associate forced sex with the violent act?

In order to reach the population of men who don’t currently associate forcible sex with rape, the lead authors of the new study suggest education programs that focus on defining sexual consent and encouraging healthy relationships. Simply pushing an anti-rape message won’t necessarily reach those men, they point out, because they don’t think of themselves as rapists.

To read the entire study, click here.

SOURCE: Think Progress, University of North Dakota | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

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