Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Women's and Gender Studies

Committee Chair

Karen Weiss

Committee Co-Chair

Lisa Dilks

Committee Member

Melissa Latimer


This thesis explores gender and fighting on the college campus. Recent studies that focus on the behavior of college students establish that risky behaviors, such as fighting, occur and are often normalized by students on college campuses (Armstrong and Hamilton, 2013; Kimmel, 2008; Weiss, 2013; Wechsler and Wuethrich, 2002). While these studies concentrate primarily on the role alcohol plays in social situations and in a variety of risky behaviors, they focus more broadly on college student behavior. Using a micro level analysis within the context of gender and aggression on the college campus, this thesis aims to explore the way college students perceive gender and fighting. This thesis uses focus group data collected at a large North Central university to explore the way college students understand how building and defending a gendered reputation (i.e. the respect they gain by appropriately performing gender during confrontational social situations) is important in explaining why college men and women fight (Cobbina, Like-Haislip, Miller, 2010). This thesis contributes to campus culture literature and studies on college masculinity and college femininity by focusing exclusively on gender and fighting rather than a wide range of risky behaviors. The findings from this thesis suggest that while there are gender differences in how college students perceive fights between college men and women, participating in a fight is perceived as important to both college men and women's gendered reputations under certain circumstances.