In life, we often have to do things we don’t want to do. Homework, attending your sister’s interpretive dance recital, cleaning, mowing the grass, listening to your tone-deaf friend sing karaoke, the list goes on. One aspect of your life that you will always have complete control over, however, is how far you want to take it with your romantic partner. We’re talking your significant others, your crushes and even someone you might just be hooking up with. When it comes to anything in that arena, you absolutely have a voice and do not have to do anything you don’t want to do.
Today we’re talking about sexual 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; … tactics of postrefusal sexual persistence [used are] defined as persistent attempts to have sexual contact with someone who has already refused”*
If the definition isn’t ringing any bells, think back to last week’s MTV Real World where we saw dating abuse. Nany wasn’t the only girl wronged in that episode. Not only did we see physical violence perpetrated against Nany, emotional and verbal abuse perpetrated against Jordan, Adam’s girlfriend back home, we also saw sexual coercion in the scene with Adam and Tina.
Here’s the clip to remind you:
You see Adam repeatedly pressuring Tina. From all of the little “Come on”s and “I just want a kiss” to him actually feeling her up (you see her move his hand in the clip), he just keeps trying. He does not accept her choice, which is disrespectful and wrong.
We found a really great resource online that we want you to read. This breaks down the definition of sexual coercion really well. The authors Kelsey McCoy and James Oelschlager remind you that:
Pressure comes in various forms: emotional, physical and verbal. If your partner uses any of the following to get you to become physical, he or she could be pressuring you:
• Holding you down
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. Rape is the most severe form of sexual coercion. Not all sexual coercion is that extreme. The “sexual contact” in the definition can also include kissing, caressing, petting, etc.
“Postrefusal sexual persistence” is just another way of saying that they continued to try even after the other person said no to their advances.
According to the same document, approximately 70% of college students surveyed reported they have been sexually coerced and 33% of college students surveyed admitted to having used sexually coercive behaviors against their partners. Of the college students who have been sexually coerced, roughly 70% stated they knew their perpetrators, further clarifying the perpetrators were either a boyfriend/girlfriend, a friend or an acquaintance.
This British PSAs that show it:
We want you to know your rights. You should never feel forced into contact with someone. Be clear and direct with your partner if you don’t want to do something. Don’t be embarrassed to say that you don’t want to get physical. Be honest and make sure that you are heard. If the other person is not listening to you, leave the situation. In the words of seemingly every MTV reality show cast-member this year, “You do you.”
Here’s our advocate Lindsey reminding us that we deserve to have our voices heard. She responds to the Adam/Tina situation:
Tell us your thoughts. Do you think sexual coercion is a big issue or do you not think it’s that prevalent?