On sexual coercion.

If someone makes you feel obligated or forced to do something you don’t want to, you may be experiencing coercion. By definition, sexual coercion is “the act of using pressure, alcohol or drugs, or force to have sexual contact with someone against his or her will” and includes “persistent attempts to have sexual contact with someone who has already refused.”

Think of sexual coercion as a spectrum or a range. It can vary from someone verbally egging you on to someone actually forcing you to have contact with them. It can be verbal and emotional, in the form of statements that make you feel pressure, guilt or shame. You can also be made to feel forced through more subtle actions. For example, your partner might:

* Make you feel like you owe them — ex. Because you’re in a relationship, because you’ve had sex before, because they spent money on you or bought you a gift, because you go home with them
* Give you compliments that sound extreme or insincere as an attempt to get you to agree to something
* Badger you, yell at you or hold you down
* Give you drugs and alcohol to loosen up your inhibitions
* Play on the fact that you’re in a relationship, saying things such as: “Sex is the way to prove your love for me” or “If I don’t get sex from you I’ll get it somewhere else”
* React negatively (with sadness, anger or resentment) if you say no or don’t immediately agree to something
* Continue to pressure you after you say no
* Make you feel threatened or afraid of what might happen if you say no
* Try to normalize their sexual expectations: ex. “I need it, I’m a guy.”

Excellent additional comment by queeravenger:

I never see posts like this mention an abuse of power. If a person in a position of power (teacher, professor, boss, internship director, etc.) has sex with a subordinate, even if it seems consensual in every other way, it’s coercion and rape.

And, as Amy in the comments points out, don’t forget therapists, doctors, and so on.

3 thoughts on “On sexual coercion.

  1. Amy July 29, 2015 at 08:16 Reply

    Don’t forget therapist, priest, doctor, etc., someone who may not be your superior in the strict sense of the word, but who wields “soft” power in the relationship with you.

    • Francois Tremblay July 29, 2015 at 14:26 Reply

      Absolutely, that’s one of the big ones. A very regrettable omission!

  2. L August 16, 2015 at 21:54 Reply

    I feel like sexual coercion is so much a part of how we view, talk about and experience romance…its normal. Both religious conversations about marriage and the pua/mra discussion about relationships really seem focused on the idea that manipulation/making a woman feel like she owes you access to her body is just part of healthy, intimate relationships between men and women.

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