For women, the fear of sexual assault and harassment is pervasive. This study examines women's perceptions and negotiations of such fear while emphasizing the gendered social structures within which such fears are learned and experienced. Open ended interviews were conducted with 13 women enrolled in a self-defense undergraduate class. The interviews were transcribed and qualitatively analyzed. Findings provide rich descriptions of women's fears of victimization, how they learn such fears, and how they cognitively and behaviorally managed fear in their everyday lives. The author argues that learning and managing fear of sexual assault and harassment is part of gender socialization for women within a cultural context that assumes male privilege and male dominance.


Vicki Hunter

First Committee Member

Dennis Waskul

Second Committee Member

Maria Bevacqua

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology and Corrections


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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