A new study challenges some widely held assumptions about coercion, sexual assault and gender. According to a paper published in the American Psychological Association journal, Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 43% of high school and college-aged men say they’ve had “unwanted sexual contact,” and 95% of those say a female acquaintance was the aggressor.
Researchers surveyed 284 young men and found that 18% reported sexual coercion by force, 31% said they were verbally coerced sex, and 26% said they’d experienced “unwanted seduction by sexual behaviors.” Half of those surveyed said they ended up having sex against their will, 10% said sex was attempted, and 40% said the coercion resulted in fondling or kissing.
Dr. Bryana French, who teaches counseling psychology and black studies at University of Missouri and co-authored the study, says that male victims are often less willing to describe sexual coercion in detail, “but when asked if it happened, they say it happened.”
French says that the study defined “sex” as oral, vaginal, or anal, so it’s possible that the sex didn’t involve an erection. But she also said that it’s not impossible for men to have an erection even if they don’t want to have sex. “Sometimes when women are experiencing sexual violence, their bodies respond in ways that don’t correspond to how they feel,” she said. “They can not want the experience to happen, even if their bodies said otherwise.”
This corresponds with earlier research as the bibliography below indicates.
InfoTrac Web: Expanded Academic ASAP.
Source: Sexuality & Culture, Summer 2000 v4 i3 p81.
Title: References Examining Men as Victims of Women's Sexual Coercion
(Statistical Data Included)
Author: Martin S. Fiebert
Subjects: Sexual behavior surveys - Analysis
Sex crimes - Research
Sex role - Research
Locations: United States
Electronic Collection: A67262535
Full Text COPYRIGHT 2000 Transaction Publishers, Inc.
In parallel to women's concerns regarding sexual coercion, a number of investigators have recently examined the issue of men as victims of women's sexual coercive behavior. Listed below are 40 empirical studies and 2 reviews that demonstrate that men also experience sexual coercion.
Aizenman, M. & Kelley, G. (1988). The incidence of violence and acquaintance rape in dating relationships among college men and women. Journal of College Student Development, 29, 305-311. (A survey of unmarried college students at Rutgers University <204 women and 140 men> in which 29% of women and 14% of men reported that they "were forced to have intercourse against their will.")
Anderson, P. B. (1996). Correlates of college women's self-reports of heterosexual aggression. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 8, 121-131. (A sample of 212 women completed a 13-item Sexually Aggressive Behavior scale. Overall, "42.6% reported initiating sexual contact by using sexually aggressive strategies ... and 7.1% reported using physical force.")
Anderson, P. B. (1998). Women's motives for sexual initiation and aggression. In P. B. Anderson & C. Struckman-Johnson (Eds.), Sexually aggressive women: Current perspectives and controversies, (pp. 79-93.) New York: Guildford. (In this survey of 461 college women, "between 26% and 43% of respondents reported engaging in strategies that would be traditionally defined as coercive if applied to male respondents." Also, "20% of the women reported using physical force, 27% the threat of physical force, and 9% a weapon to obtain sexual contact with a male partner.")
Anderson, P. B. & Aymami, R. (1993). Reports of female initiation of sexual contact: Male and female differences. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 22, 335-343. (Findings from sample of 128 college men indicated "that 15.6% had experienced female sexual contact initiated by physical force, 15.6% by threat of force, and 4.7% by threat with a weapon.")
Baier, J. L., Rosenzweig, M. G. & Whipple, E. G. (1991). Patterns of sexual behavior, coercion and victimization of university students. Journal of College Student Development, 32, 310-322. (A college sample of 340 men and 362 women responded to a modified version of the Sexual Experience. Survey. Findings reveal that 14.9% of men and 24.9% of women "had engaged in sexual intercourse at least once when they did not want to because of psychological or verbal coercion.")
Burke, P. J., Stets, J. E. & Pirog-Good, M. A. (1988). Gender identity, self-esteem, and physical and sexual abuse in dating relationships. Social Psychology Quarterly, 51, 272-285. (In a sample of 505 college students <298 women, 207 men>, 9% of the men and 18% of the women reported sustaining sexual abuse. Abuse was defined as unwanted breast fondling, genital fondling, attempted intercourse and intercourse.)
Chadwick, B. A. & Top, B. L. (1993). Religiosity and delinquency among LDS adolescents. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 32, 51-67. (Data were collected from Mormons between the ages of 14 and 19. In a sample of 636 males and 754 females, 5% of both genders reported that they "forced or pressured someone to engage in sexual activities.")
Cochran, C. C., Frazier, P. A. & Olson, A. M. (1997). Predictors of responses to unwanted sexual attention. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 207-226. (Data were collected from 1,192 men and 2,742 women at a large Midwestern university. Subjects - who included undergraduates, graduates, faculty and staff - were assessed regarding unwanted sexual attention. Results indicate that 49% of women and 24% of men had experienced at least one unwanted sexual behavior.)
Erickson, P. I., Rapkin, D. P. H. & Rapkin, A. J. (1991). Unwanted sexual experiences among middle and high school youth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 12, 319-325. (In a sample of 1,198 students <610 boys, 488 girls>, 18% of females and 12% of males reported having an unwanted sexual experience. Authors report that "of the ethnic groups, Asians (7%) reported having had an unwanted sexual experience less frequently than non-Hispanic white (16%), Hispanic (16%) or black (19%) students.")
Fiebert, M. S. & Tucci, L. M. (1998). Sexual coercion: Men victimized by women. Journal of Men's Studies, 6 (2) 127-133. (A 12 item inventory, designed to assess mild, moderate and severe forms of sexual coercion, was administered to 182 college men. Results reveal that 70% of subjects responded to at least one item reflecting sexual coercion within past five years. Younger men were more likely than older men to report being sexually coerced.)
Garcia, L., Milano, L. & Quijano, A. (1989). Perceptions of coercive sexual behavior by males and females. Sex Roles, 21, 569-577. (Thirty-seven male and 36 female college students responded to continuum of sexual coercion as portrayed in six vignettes that presented both genders as aggressors and victims. Male participants saw the sexual advances as more coercive when the victim was female, while female participants saw the advances as more coercive when the victim was male.)
Hannon, R., Kuntz, T., Van Laar, S. & Williams, J. (1996). College students' judgments regarding sexual aggression during a date. Sex Roles, 35, 765-778. (In a sample of 138 female and 57 male college students, 65% of the women and 38.5% of the men reported being victims of unwanted sexual behavior by their heterosexual partners. For example, 20.4% of women and 10.5% of men indicated that they were sexually coerced, 23.4% of women and 10.5% of men revealed that they were raped, and 6.6% of women and 10.5% of men reported that they were victims of attempted rape. Authors state that, "all but one of the rape experiences reported by men involved having unwanted intercourse because someone gave them alcohol or drugs.")
Hogben, M., Byrne, D. & Hamberger, M. E. (1996). Coercive heterosexual sexuality in dating relationships of college students: Implications of differential male-female experiences. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 8, 69-78. (The Sexual Experience questionnaire was administered to 214 students <113 women, 101 men>, and 79% of women and 52% of men reported "having at least once been coerced by a partner sexually.")
Lottes, I. L. (1991). The relationship between nontraditional gender roles and sexual coercion. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 4(4) 89-109. (A sample of 398 undergraduates <171 men, 227 women> at an eastern university responded to items assessing sexual coercion. Results indicate that 71% of females compared to 45% of males indicated that they were subjected to at least one sexually coercive strategy that did not result in intercourse while 35% of women and 24% of men reported being victims of at least one coercive strategy that resulted in intercourse. Nineteen percent of men and 20% of women reported being victims of sexual coercion, which resulted in unwanted sex, because their partner got them drunk or stoned.)
Lottes, I. L. & Weinberg, M. S. (1996). Sexual coercion among university students: A comparison of the United States and Sweden. Journal of Sex Research, 34, 67-76. (A sample of 570 Swedish students <211 men, 359 women and 407 U.S. students <129 men, 278 women> responded to items assessing sexual coercion. Results indicate that 50% of U.S. men compared to 22% of Swedish men were subjected to at least one sexually coercive strategy; 69% of U.S. women compared to 41% of Swedish women reported that they were subjected to at least one sexually coercive strategy.)
Macchietto, J. G. (1998). Treatment issues of adult male victims of female sexual aggression. (Pp. 187-204) In P. B. Anderson & C. Sturckman-Johnson (Eds.), Sexually Aggressive women: Current Perspectives and controversies. New York: Guildford. (Reviews issues relevant to male victims of female sexual aggression and suggests treatment approaches.)
Margolin, L. (1990). Gender and the stolen kiss: The social support of male and female to violate a partner's sexual consent in a noncoercive situation. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 19, 281-291. (Responses to a vignette, in which one dating partner indicates that he/she doesn't want to be kissed and the other partner doesn't listen, was obtained from 194 female and 171 male university students. Results indicate that there was significantly more support for women to violate men's sexual consent and less support for men than women to withhold sexual consent.)
McConaghy, N. & Zamir, R. (1995). Heterosexual and homosexual coercion, sexual orientation and sexual roles in medical students. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 24, 489-502. (A sample of 182 <101 men, 81 women> second year medical students at a New Zealand University responded to items from a modified Sexual Experience Survey. Results indicate that similar proportions of men and women were victims of sexual coercion. Specifically, 26% of men and 31% of women reported that they were victims of "constant physical attempts to have sexual activity" by members of the opposite sex. Four percent of women and men were victimized by members of the same sex. Sixteen percent of women and 7% of men indicated that they were sexually coerced by partners who used some degree of physical force. More men (17%) than women (10%) reported that their partners "were so aroused they felt it was useless to stop (them) even though they did not want to have sexual intercourse.")
Muehlenhard, C. L. & Cook, S. W. (1988). Men's self reports of unwanted sexual activity. The Journal of Sex Research, 24, 58-72. (A questionnaire examining unwanted sexual activity was administered to 507 men and 486 women. Findings reveal that 97.5% of women and 93.5% of men had experienced some form of unwanted sexuality activity with significantly more men (62.7%) than women (46.3%) reporting having engaged in unwanted sexual intercourse. The main reasons men engaged in unwanted sexual behavior compared to women were peer pressure and the desire for popularity.)
Murphy, J. E. (1988). Date abuse and forced intercourse among college students. In G. P. Hotaling, D. Finkelhor, J. T. Kirkpatrick & M. A. Straus (Eds.), Family Abuse and its Consequences: New Directions in Research (pp. 285-296). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. (In a sample of 485 single college students <230 men and 255 women>, 12% of the men and 29% of the women indicated that they had succumbed to "forced intercourse on a date.")
O'Sullivan, L. F. & Byers, E. S. (1993). Eroding stereotypes: College women's attempts to influence reluctant male sexual partners. Journal of Sex Research, 30, 270-282. (In a sample of actively dating Canadian college students <99 men and 111 women> authors found that 56% of participants reported a disagreement, within the prior year, in which a woman attempted to influence a reluctant male partner to engage in sex. In response to male refusal, 29% of men indicated that their female partner behaved in a "noncompliant" sexually coercive manner.)
Poitras, M. & Lavoie, F. (1995). A study of the prevalence of sexual coercion in adolescent heterosexual dating relationships in a Quebec sample. Victims and Violence, 10, 299-313. (A sample of high school students between the ages of 15 and 19 <336 girls and 308 boys responded to a modified Sexual Experience Survey. Here, 54.1% of girls and 13.1% of boys reported being victims of some form of sexual coercion; 14.3% of boys and 6.3% of girls reported initiating sexual coercion.)
Poppen, P. J. & Segal, N. J. (1988). The influence of sex and sex role orientation on sexual coercion. Sex Roles, 19, 689-701. (One hundred female and 77 male college students indicated whether they had engaged in or responded to coercive sexual behaviors. Seventy four percent of women and 44% of men reported that they were victims of at least one coercive behavior perpetrated by their partners. For example, 22% of men and 34% of women indicated that their partners attempted to make them "feel inadequate.")
Rouse, L. P. (1988). Abuse in dating relationships: A comparison of Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics. Journal of College Student Development, 29, 312-319. (An aspect of sexual coercion was examined in a diverse sample of college students. Subjects consisted of 130 whites <58 men, 72 women>, 64 Blacks <32 men, 32 women>, and 34 Hispanics <24 men, 10 women>. Men were significantly more likely than women to report that their partners "pressured them for sex" and "got angry if refused." This gender difference was present for Whites and Blacks but not for Hispanics.)
Ryan, K. A. (1998). The relationship between courtship violence and sexual aggression in college students. Journal of Family Violence, 13, 377-394. (A sample of 656 college students <245 men, 411 women> completed the Sexual Experience Survey (SES). Twenty five percent of the women and 9% of the men reported being sexually victimized by their partners. As a specific finding, 4% of the women and 3% of the men reported anal or oral sexual victimization by force.)
Sandberg, G., Jackson, T. L. & Petretic-Jackson, P. (1987). College students' attitudes regarding sexual coercion and aggression: Developing educational and preventive strategies. Journal of College Student Personnel 28, 302-311. (Sexual behaviors and attitudes were examined in a sample of 247 college women and 161 college men. Of note is the finding that 25% of men and 48% of women responded affirmatively to the statement: "have you ever been sexually assaulted by a dating partner consisting of being touched, held, or kissed against your will?" In addition, 48% of the men and 74% of the women indicated that they had verbally been pressured to have sex by a dating partner.)
Sarrel, P. & Masters, W. H. (1982). Sexual molestation of men by women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 11, 117-131. (In a pioneering study authors demonstrate, by citing 11 case studies, that it is possible for men to respond sexually when subjected to physical molestation by women.)
Sigelman, C. K., Berry, C. J. & Wiles, K. A. (1984). Violence in college students' dating relationships. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 5, 530-548. (In a survey of 504 college students <116 men, 388 women>, 34.8% of women and 20.9% of men reported being targets of sexual aggression by their partners.
Smith, R. E., Pine, C. J. & Hawley, M. E. (1988). Social cognitions about adult male victims of female sexual assault. Journal of Sex Research, 24, 101-112. (In a study of Sexual Coercion in which the sex of assailants and victims were manipulated, 77 male and 89 female college students made judgments about male and female victims of heterosexual and homosexual assault. Findings indicate that male victims of female sexual assaults were judged more likely to have encouraged the sexual acts, were assumed to have enjoyed it more and believed to be less stressed than other victims.)
Sorenson, S. B., Stein, J. A., Siegel, J. M., Golding, J. M. & Burnam, M. A. (1987). The prevalence of adult sexual assault: The Los Angeles epidemiologic catchment area project. American Journal of Epidemiology, 126, 1154-1164. (A representative sample study was conducted in Los Angeles in which 1,480 men were interviewed and 7.2% indicated that above the age of 16 they were sexually coerced. At most risk were white, college age men between the ages of 18 and 39, 16% of whom reported being sexually assaulted. Struckman-Johnson (1991) obtained additional analyses from Sorenson and her colleagues, which revealed that the majority of assaults on men were perpetrated by female acquaintances or lovers. The most prevalent coercive tactic was psychological pressure.)
Stets, J. E. & Pirog-Good, M. S. (1989). Patterns of physical and sexual abuse for men and women in dating relationships: A descriptive analysis. Journal of Family Violence, 4, 63-76. (Found in a college sample of 118 males and 169 females that 22% of the men and 36% of the women reported being sexually abused by one or more dating partners during the past year. The most frequent coerced behavior for both men <18%> and women <19%> was "against my will my partner initiated necking.")
Straus, M. A., Hamby, S. L., Boney-McCoy, S. & Sugarman, D. B. (1996). The revised Conflict Tactics Scales (CTS2). Development and preliminary psychometric data. Journal of Family Issues, 17, 283-315. (A sample of 204 female and 113 male college students completed the CTS2. Nine of the 39 items explicitly dealt with sexual coercion. Results reveal that, within the past 12 months, 38% of the men experienced at least one instance of sexual coercion while 30% of the women experienced at least one instance of sexual coercion. In terms of perpetrated sexual coercion, 37% of the men and 18% of the women reported engaging in such behavior.)
Struckman-Johnson, C. (1988). Forced sex on dates: It happens to men, too. Journal of Sex Research, 24, 234-241. (Participants in a survey examining forced sexual behavior were 355 female and 268 male college students. Author found that "22% of the women reported that they had been forced to engage in sexual intercourse on date at least once in their lifetime" and "16% of the men reported at least one forced sex episode in their lifetime." Most men <52%> were coerced into sex by psychological pressure.)
Struckman-Johnson, C. (1991). Male victims of acquaintance rape. In A. Parrot & L. Bechofer (Eds.), Acquaintance Rape, The Hidden Crime [pp. 192-214]. New York: Wiley.). (A review article that examines prevalence rates of sexual assault on American men as well as discusses the dynamics and consequences of assaults on men. States that "our society has no place for the male victim of sexual assault" and that "our culture's ignorance of male rape is compounded by the fact that most male victims do not report their experience to the police, health officials or even to friends and family." )
Struckman-Johnson, C. & Struckman-Johnson, D. (1993). College men and women's reactions to hypothetical sexual touch varied by initiator gender and coercion level. Sex Roles, 29, 371-385. (A sample of 152 female and 152 male college students responded to a vignette in which they imagined an uninvited genital touch, either gentle or forceful, from either a male or female college acquaintance. Findings reveal that women anticipated strong negative effects from receiving a genital touch, whether gentle or forceful, while men anticipated little negative effect from a gentle or forceful touch from a female acquaintance. Both genders responded negatively to opposite gender touching.)
Struckman-Johnson, C. & Struckman-Johnson, D. (1994a). Men pressured and forced into sexual experience. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 23, 93-114. (A sample of 204 college men reported on experience of forced sexual touch or intercourse since age 16. Thirty-four percent of males reported at least one coercive episode, with 24% of subjects experiencing female contact only, 4% male contact, and 6% reporting both male and female contact. Unwanted sexual touching by women was reported by 23% of subjects and coercive intercourse was reported by 20% of subjects. The most commonly used coercive tactics were persuasion and intoxication.)
Struckman-Johnson, C. & Struckman, D. (1994b). Men's reactions to hypothetical female sexual advances: A beauty bias in response to sexual coercion. Sex Roles, 31, 387-405. (A sample of 277 college men responded to a vignette in which they were to imagine receiving an uninvited sexual advance from a casual female acquaintance. The degree of coercion was varied as was the attractiveness of the female initiator. Results reveal that men had significantly more negative reactions to high levels of sexual coercion and more positive reactions to attractive initiators.)
Struckman-Johnson, D. & Struckman-Johnson, C. (1996). College Men's reactions to hypothetical forceful advances from women. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 8, 93-105. (A sample of 263 college men responded to a vignette in which they were to imagine receiving a forceful sexual advance from a woman. Results reveal that subjects responded more positively to the advance of an acquaintance than to a stranger. Authors state, "conditions known to promote positive reactions to hypothetical sexual advances are low force, high initiator sexual desirability, and high level of romantic relationship with initiator.")
Struckman-Johnson, C. & Struckman-Johnson, D. (1997). Men's reactions to hypothetical forceful sexual advances from women: The role of sexual standards, relationship availability and the beauty bias. Sex Roles, 37, 319-333. (A sample of 142 college men responded to a vignette involving a moderately forceful sexual advance from a female casual acquaintance. The men's sexual standards, relationship availability, and the attractiveness of the sexual initiator was studied. The majority of men reacted negatively to the coercive situation. More positive responses were obtained from men with less restrictive sexual standards, who had no girlfriend and who were told that the female initiator was attractive. Authors indicate that results offer support for their Sexual Opportunity Model.)
Struckman-Johnson, C. & Struckman-Johnson, D. (1998). The dynamics and impact of sexual coercion of men by women. In P. B. Anderson & C. Struckman-Johnson (Eds.), Sexually Aggressive Women: Current Perspectives and Controversies (pp. 121-143). New York: Guildford. (In a sample of 314 college men, 43% reported having had at least one coercive sexual experience with a women since the age of 16. Thirty-six percept reported at least one incident of sexual touching and 27% reported at least one incident of sexual intercourse.)
Waldner-Haugrud, L. K. & Magruder, B. (1995). Male and female sexual victimization in dating relationships: Gender differences in coercion techniques and outcomes. Violence and Victims, 10, 203-215. (A sample of 220 female and 202 male college students completed a survey examining unwanted sexual behavior as a function of 12 coercive techniques including intoxication, false promises, threats, and physical force. Men reported 457 incidents and women 628 incidents of unwanted sexual behavior. The most common techniques experienced by both genders were intoxication and persistent touching. Men were more likely than women to experience unwanted sexual behavior when their partners used blackmail. In general, authors found that women were coerced into more extreme sexual behaviors than men.)
Zweig, J. M., Barber, B. L. & Eccles, J. S. (1997). Sexual coercion and well-being in young adulthood. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 12, 291-308. (A sample of 872 women and 527 men, ages 19-22, who were 90% Caucasian responded to items assessing how often intercourse occurred in response to "pressure." Thirteen percent of men reported that they were pressured, while 22% of indicated that they were pressured.)
Martin S. Fiebert
Department of Psychology, California State University, Long Beach, CA 90840
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