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Charlene Muehlenhard

Psychology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1981

305Fraser Hall

Research Area
Rape and other forms of sexual coercion, sexual consent, communication and miscommunication about sex.

Teaching Area
Psychology of women and gender, women and violence, and intelligence testing.

I am interested in the social construction of sex, gender, consent, and coercion, and how these concepts intersect. My research, which focuses on rape and other forms of sexual coercion, is informed by the social constructionist perspective. For example, what does it mean to a woman if she is sexually coerced? What does it mean to a man if he is sexually coerced? How are these meanings influenced by the way we understand gender, sexuality, consent, and coercion? How do people’s understandings about gender and sexuality affect their attitudes and behavior related to sex and sexual coercion? Some examples of my publications are “Is rape sex or violence? Conceptual issues and implication”; “College women’s fears and precautionary behaviors relating to acquaintance rape and stranger rape”; “The importance and danger of studying sexually aggressive women”; and “‘Token resistence’ to sex: New perspectives on old stereotypes.” I am also active in the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, an interdisciplinary organization of researchers, educators, and therapists. I serve on the Boards of Rape Victim/Survivor Service, the local rape crisis center, and the Freedom Coalition, a group promoting civil rights for people of all sexual orientations.

My research informs my teaching. My courses include, among others, Psychology of Women and Women and Violence. In my Psychology of Women course we cover conceptualizations of gender, relevant issues in research methodology, biological and cultural influences on gender, examinations of gender similarities and differences, and women’s issues. My Women and Violence course deals with rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse. I also teach Psychological Clinic I, which deals with intelligence testing-conceptualizing intelligence; administering, scoring, and interpreting intelligence tests; and critiquing the science and politics of intelligence. In all these classes, I stress critical thinking, questioning how we define concepts and our underlying assumptions about the topics. I try to emphasize multiple perspectives, not using White heterosexual men- or White heterosexual women-as prototypes.

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, retaliation, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies and is the University’s Title IX Coordinator: the Executive Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, IOA@ku.edu, 1246 W. Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS, 66045, (785)864-6414, 711 TTY.