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Sexual assault, through coercion or violence, was omnipresent at every level of medieval society and perpetrated by males from all socio-economic backgrounds. This article argues that a specific type of sexual violence—group rape—committed by two or more individuals, was a phase of men’s social development. It explores the connection between adolescence and sexual aggression to show that collective rape was a feature of male youth culture used a form of recreation to gain sexual experience, forge bonds with peers, and publicly prove masculinity as adolescents transitioned from childhood to adulthood. Many young males first learned to rape in groups before committing lone rape. Thus, as a form of sport that perpetuated a rape culture, sexual violence became a significant mode of interaction with women. This article proposes that group rape was not only an expression of manliness due to the precariousness of masculine identity but also functioned to redirect male homoerotic desire onto the bodies of women.


gang rape, masculinity, sexual violence, adolescence, adulthood, rape culture, homoerotic desire, virginity, youth culture, patriarchy

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