Teen Sex Attitudes Surveyed

// 5 November 2008

Channel 4 reports a study of sexual attitudes amongst 14-16 years. Key findings are that:

  • boys thought it was acceptable to pressure girls into sex and to use alcohol to get them into bed.
  • boys often used aggressive language about relationships
  • the boys suggested that a girlfriend who slept around would probably pay a physical price
  • In one of the boys’ focus groups there was even a suggestion that it was OK for a boy to force his girlfriend to have sex and the group started trying to differentiate between ‘just a bit of pressure’ and ‘proper rape’.

According to the researchers “The girls’ responses were more empathic and complex because they face more complex social pressures when it comes to having sex.”. Stuff empathy – why isn’t this being seen in terms of the fact that currently girls are vulnerable to the aggressive normative behaviour of the boys here!

The participants were presented with a series of scenarios to discuss – a girl and a boy both reluctant to have sex, a girl who had had a number of partners and a girl who felt pressured to have sex because her friends had paired off with two boys leaving her with a third. ‘The objective of this study was to explore the broad gender-based attitudes and opinions towards all of the case studies, not just to explore any differences between attitudes towards any one particular case study’ said Dr Hayter, who carried out the research with Christina Harrison, a sexual health specialist nurse from Doncaster Primary Care Trust. The team conceded that the focus group situation could have encouraged the boys and girls to conform to stereotypical behaviour but pointed out how, in the real world, teenagers’ behaviour is shaped by the sort of peer pressure displayed during the sessions.

From Mail on Sunday

(The Methods bit: Ten focus groups were held with 35 teenagers who had accessed nurse-led sexual health outreach clinics for contraception. These clinics are often held in conjunction with youth clubs in areas where teenage pregnancy rates are high.

From Innovations Report

Ten focus groups (five male and five female) involving sexual health clinic attendees aged between 14-16 years were conducted. Focus groups were asked to comment on four sexual relationship `case studies’. Group discussions were recorded and transcribed. Data were subject to thematic analysis. Three themes emerged from the data analysis. `Empathy’ reflected how young women were more likely to try to see their partner’s point of view. `Complexity’ also reflected that young women were more aware of the complex nature of relationships than were the male participants. `Language’ related to how young males used aggressive language in the context of relationships – a feature absent from female participants’ discourse. From abstract for article in Journal of Clinical Nursing)

Comments From You

Qubit // Posted 5 November 2008 at 1:57 pm

“According to the researchers “The girls’ responses were more empathic and complex because they face more complex social pressures when it comes to having sex.”. Stuff empathy – why isn’t this being seen in terms of the fact that currently girls are vulnerable to the aggressive normative behaviour of the boys here!”

Actually the journal article doesn’t say this, it says empathy may be the reason but they believe it is a social construct with the way both genders view sex. They then go on to analyse this further.

More worryingly is perhaps the fact that in at least two of the boys groups getting the girl who didn’t want sex drunk was considered a tactic to get sex and having sex against the girls will was not considered rape by one group.

Louise Livesey // Posted 5 November 2008 at 2:14 pm

Sadly I don’t have access to the complete article – only the news reports but I’m glad there is some misrepresentation in those!

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 5 November 2008 at 2:31 pm

Proves yet again how the media consistently re-interpret research evidence so that women are always seen as less than men. Quite correct previous research has consistently concluded that how girls and boys view sexual activity is always different due to gendered social conditioning.

But, most importantly is this research shows alcohol use against teen girls is seen as an appropriate method of male coercion. Since apparently getting a teen girl drunk and then more pliable is not seen as rape but just normal male sexual behaviour. No wonder rape convictions are continuing to fall – it is all women’s/girls’ fault or else female consumption of alcohol is responsible and hence no subsequent rape occurred. Since alcohol and woman’s consumption is to blame not the perpetrator getting woman/girl drunk.

Also shows how in this study boys’ perception is they do not have any responsibility or accountability for their sexual actions – instead it is girls who will suffer blame and condemnation. Absence of male accountability again.

Anne Onne // Posted 5 November 2008 at 3:34 pm

Sad, sad sad. People want to know why we have disgraceful levels of abuse, rape and appaling misinformation amongst teens? Look no further than this example.

How is it that people are not making a big deal about the fact that many teenage boys think it is acceptable to force sex on (therefore rape) teenage girls by pressuring them or plying them with alcohol, or using peer pressure? How can we stand for this as a society?

How can we be surprised at the incidence of rape when boys are taught to take no responsibility for their actions and blame girls for the sex they pressured them to have. It’s sick.

Wrong, just wrong. Where are the people who would be up in arms at the idea of their darling daughters getting a HPV jab, or on contraception, or an abortion? Where are the boys’ parents, the ones who should teach them how to be a decent human being? Where is society when it’s needed?

Maggie // Posted 5 November 2008 at 4:18 pm

‘Absence of male accountablility again’. When was it ever present?

I would like to know the socio economic status of the groups that were questioned. I would also like to know if the boys had a father figure at home.

Instead of coming to a conclusion of whether girls are accountable for their own ‘downfall’, the media should indeed put it forward that society has raised a generation of boys that view sex as a right regardless of consent.

Anne Onne // Posted 5 November 2008 at 4:57 pm

That might be interesting, Maggie. Somne more information certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing, given the very serious implications of the attitudes shown.

However, we have to be careful when talking about a lack of father figures/role models for boys (or for girls) that it doesn’t translate to shaming the single mothers who work very hard to raise their children against the odds. I don’t think that was your intention, and I don’t read your comment that way, but given the ‘father figures’ point is normally brought up to shame women for not sticking around with a partner (even if he is abusive) and about how they absolutely can’t bring up a halfway decent kid alone (rubbish, of course), we have to take it carefully, and examine what any correlation might mean, without playing into the thought patterns the patriarchy has laid.

And I’d suggest that it’s not so much whether there’s a male figure in the picture as what kind of a male figure it is: if we take the statistics that boys who grow up witnessing domestic violence (usually an abusive father) are more likely to be abusive, and girls in the same situation more likely to become abuse victims, then it could be that many of these boys are acting out behaviours they see enacted at home. If that’s the case, not having a father figure would be preferable, even.

Shea // Posted 5 November 2008 at 5:04 pm

I agree with all of the above comments bar two:

“I would like to know the socio economic status of the groups that were questioned.”

Why? Is it relevant. Should we expect this of working class families but not of more “educated” upper class ones? I think this comment betrays a bit of snobbery tbh. I don’t think its relevant what background the perpetrator or victim are from, rape is wrong whether its by boys from Eton or Tower Hamlets Comprehensive, so are the ideas behind it. Theres this in built idea that “working class men” are more likely to rape/commit domestic abuse etc which is classic class snobbery in action.

“I would also like to know if the boys had a father figure at home.”

Again maybe I’m reading you wrong, but why? Is it only fatherless families that produce rapists? No, so ? If the father is present why do the sons have this belief, if he isn’t- again why do the sons/daughters have this belief? (Theres also a huge amount of responsibility on parents here. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be teaching their children that rape is wrong and the attitudes above are abhorrent, but these children are in school for upwards of six to eight hours a day, thats a lot of teaching time which could be used to combat these backward beliefs.)

Society has raised a generation of young men (and some women) who don’t believe rape is wrong, but “society” is a nebulous concept and I can see the thinking here leading us back to women (single working class mothers) being blamed.

Laurel Dearing // Posted 5 November 2008 at 6:02 pm

EDIT: This comment was edited to remove identifiers from it.

*sends link to this page*

17:48:01 Person A says: ??

17:48:11 Me says: its icky

17:49:49 Person A says: i dont get it

17:50:34 Me says: what?

17:55:52 Person A says: the artile

17:56:13 Me says: what about it? its attitudes of kids in school

17:56:47 Person A says: i know but its always been like that

17:57:22 Me says: kids thinking rape is ok?

17:57:25 Person A says: most of the kids asked would be chavs anyway so to be hontest i dont really care >Me says: i care about the chavviest of chavettes being raped

17:57:57 Person A says: its pressuring not rape

17:58:20 Me says: its the same if you go through with it knowing full well they dont want it

17:58:54 Person A says: yeh but they could just say no and run off

17:59:15 Mesays: lol not always. nice world you live in though

18:00:11 Person A says: its not hard to say no if you feel that strongly about it

*bangs head on desk*

Sian // Posted 5 November 2008 at 7:59 pm

Shea-Well Maggie never said that; for instance I for one would not consider, if the survey had been done at Eton say, the results representative of the rest of the country (and I certainly wouldn’t assume they’d have a better attitude)-that’s why socioeconomic status is important to know. How representative a group is is very important to the nature of a study.

Lotus // Posted 5 November 2008 at 9:12 pm

Anecdote relating to the points above. I have a male friend who considers himself an ally and normally has interesting and well though out views which are consistent with a feminist ideology. I’ve had arguments with him where he has insited that buying a girl a drink that’s double the strength she’d asked for (a double rather then a single) to get her drunk quicker so she’s more likely to sleep with you is morally acceptable and not rape.

This man is an upperclass man raised by an intact family who I have never had the impression were anything other then supportive of him and his goals.

It all just goes back into this perception that women NEED to be talked into having sex, because they’re not capable of making rational decisions so they need a man to persuade them about what’s good for them. It pisses me of like you wouldn’t believe. If she won’t sleep with you, and you make her more drunk so she gives in more easily to your persuasion, you have raped her. Why can’t people see this?

Lawtears // Posted 5 November 2008 at 10:00 pm

Anne Onne said:

How is it that people are not making a big deal about the fact that many teenage boys think it is acceptable to force sex on (therefore rape) teenage girls by pressuring them or plying them with alcohol, or using peer pressure? How can we stand for this as a society?

Because society is party encouraging this. On Friday and Saturday nights a substantial population hit on young women, ply them with drinks and hope to get lucky. There seem to be a fair number of women willingly involved in this situation. Now if this is ‘fun’ for, say, the 18-30 age group, then it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that the 14-18 age group would like to give it a go too. Except in a far more immature and stupid fashion.

Monkey see, monkey do.

Lawtears

emma // Posted 5 November 2008 at 10:09 pm

I think this research is important because hopefully the attitudes it reveals will be challenged. I work in sexual health with young people providing sex and relationship education in formal settings and these attitudes would defintely be challenged and addressed. I think some young men do display these attitudes when they are part of a group but when you get them on their own and they can have very different ideas. I feel confident that i am making a difference in the sessions i deliver to young men and women and i know that the colleagues i work with also make a point of discussing issues of consent and rape when dealing with young men that access sexual health services.

maggie // Posted 5 November 2008 at 11:24 pm

I’m no snob. No way. I would be interested to know if the teens came from a comfortable ‘middle class’ background with two loving parents. Because if this was the case then certainly the blame could not be put onto single working class mothers.

I just want to know why teenage boys should think that it’s okay to get an unwilling girl drunk to have sex with her. How to they form these ideas? Surely a closer examination is needed? There’s no point in alarmingly reporting this if you can do nothing about it except shrug your shoulders and say tut tut.

Positive male figures are important in a child’s life and sorry, I made a mistake, they don’t necessarily have to reside within the home. I hope I didn’t give the impression that the lack of one produces a rapist.

A. // Posted 6 November 2008 at 6:27 am

I’m so tired of this “father figure” talk. Is there any safe space at least on the internet where single and/or lesbian mothers are not bashed directly or indirectly?

All of my married female friends see sex as “wife duty” to be given to a man whenever he demands. I don’t see how their kids can grow up thinking differently.

What’s important for kids is safe environment and loving family, not the genitalia of family members. But no one ever suggests that children who grow up without fathers are less likely to become abusers and/or victims, because they don’t see domineering male behaviour at home. Oh noes, the man is the solution to everything.

lisa // Posted 6 November 2008 at 9:30 am

The parents (male-female) are failing to educate their children (boys and girls). Teachers are employed to teach maths, history etc and struggle to get through the curriculum as it is. It is outrageous that adults pass their repsonsibilties on to teachers (some of whom are new graduates and have not been trained to parent teenagers only a few years younger than them).

Who is society ? Us. It’s childish to expect teachers, politicians, ‘the mnedia’ – whatever that is to do something! Whilst it is not inevitable that children grow up with these views, they will if left to their own devices. ‘Lord of the Flies’-savage-barbarity is what happens if children are not socialised. Anyone who’s spent any time with young children can experience first-hand the 1000s of hours of training that’s involved in moving a young human from an instinctive, often brutal, animal through to a civilised human with the capacity to reason and control-direct their passions (anger, lust, greed are all equally extremely powerful motivators).

There is nothing new about males pressurising women for sex (with or without the aid of alcohol or drugs) or just openly raping women. What is new is the orphaning of teenage girls so that they are not prepared for this, not provided with the tools to manage these situations and not provided with practical support from their families. In fact they are sometimes even encouraged to believe that their male peers are sweet, harmless and their ‘friends’ – whereas if they knew what their so-called friends were thinking they might not trust them half as much !

The father-figure is important because boys copy a blueprint of acceptable male behaviour and they’ll copy dysfunctional older boys or their abusive father – whoever is available. This is why it’s important to provide a boy with a good role model whether mothers like it or not. Leaving an abusive partner doesn’t solve the problem if he’s simply going to be replaced by nasty boys at school. The father-figure is important to girls because he sets the standard of what is acceptable – the norm – from males outside the family. So again, if the abusive father is simply replaced by nasty boys at school, the daughter is learning to tolerate violence, lack of self-control and insecurity. Perhaps most importantly a father was once a teenage boy himself and is under no illusions about the extent of their sexual frustration and the extremes to which they will go as a result of this.

The children in these studies are not only poorly socialised with regard to sex but are also poorly socialised with regard to anger (both as perpatrator and victim). I’d bet money on them being also poorly socialised with respect to greed too.

Laura // Posted 6 November 2008 at 9:48 am

Lawtears,

“On Friday and Saturday nights a substantial population hit on young women, ply them with drinks and hope to get lucky. There seem to be a fair number of women willingly involved in this situation.”

Um, no, the young women are willingly involved in getting pissed, as are the young men, and then, maybe, having sex. They are not willingly involved in having their drinks spiked, or being given extra strong drinks by predatorial men who are out to rape them. The two situations are not the same.

A – totally agree. The consensus among psychologists both sides of the Atlantic is that children require a stable and loving family situation, it doesn’t matter what the gender make-up of that family is. I do think it’s important that boys have access to positive male role models, just as it’s important that girls have access to positive female role models, but this doesn’t need to be within their immediate family, and I certainly don’t think that lack of a father figure is the issue here. As others have already pointed out, it’s more likely that a father figure with negative attitudes towards women would pass these onto his sons.

A. // Posted 6 November 2008 at 10:43 am

I work 8 hours a day in an office where I’m underpaid and harassed everyday. Then I go back home to cook, clean, wash, etc. And then I start my second job. During all that I somehow have to find time to play with my daughter, educate her and undo stereotypes heaped unto her by ‘educational’ system. And after 4 (6 – if I’m lucky) hours of sleep I start all over again. With no hope of change.

Yet, whatever I do, whatever sacrifices I make, it’s not enough (afterall, it’s kind of my deserved fate for being penis-challenged), ’cause I couldn’t do the most important thing – find that ‘positive male figure’. Neither inside nor outside our family. Well, non-family, since where I live we are not understood as family due to above mentioned shameful penis-challenged situation.

I have never heard that children need a ‘positive female figure’. Neither girls, nor boys. Who needs that anyway? Yet everyday it’s pounded into my and my daughters head – positive!friggin!male!figure! Cause it’s all!about!the!men!

And apparently, because of that lack of the ‘positive magical set of balls figure’, my daughter will be a rape victim. And I finally know why I was raped and abused – cause I didn’t have positive male figure! Not because some creep thought it’s ok to force himself on me. Invisible rapist strikes again.

Laura // Posted 6 November 2008 at 11:22 am

A – I don’t know whether that was a reply to me, but what I mean by positive male/female figures is people who can help counteract all the gender stereotype crap heaped on kids from day one. This could be someone they have direct contact with like a friend or teacher, or someone in the public eye like celebrities or politicians. Kind of off topic really, I should have made myself clearer.

A. // Posted 6 November 2008 at 11:59 am

Laura Woodhouse, it’s for everyone who cant’ stop waxing poetically about male figures. Why are male figures so important and female figures so unimportant? I think I am a positive female figure to my daughter but it’s like it doesn’t matter. Children need postivie HUMAN role models. Men are not superior to women, I’d expect at least feminists to agree with that. Why is a mother (or any other positive female role model) incapable to teach a boy that rape and abuse is wrong? I’m sorry if I seem rude, but people see me either as a victim, or as a martyr, all because I live (happily, nonetheless) without a man and I’m so friggin tired of that. And I hate to see motherhood and to some extent womanhood degraded and dehumanised like that. If I was a single father, I would be praised for the job I do. Now it’s just my obligation. I don’t see why a woman can’t be a positive example for a girl or a boy. And I certainly don’t appreciate to find such statements on a feminist blog which I otherwise read and enjoy everyday.

lisa, parents are not superheros. I teach my daughter feminist values everyday and everyday she comes back from kindergarden with fairytales about bearded old man in the sky (though I personally asked the teacher not to do that), that “girls are weak” and “fags are bad”. There’s so much I can do when the society we live in is racist, misogynist, homophobic and generally intolerant. My daughter is already a lesser person because she’s female and a bastard. And no matter how hard I try to tell her she’s just as good as everyone else, she still sees how differently society treats her and children with both (married) parents.

Also, this discussion about male/female figures reinforces gender binary and is rather transphobic.

Emme // Posted 6 November 2008 at 12:09 pm

Whn I was a teenager some girls wanted to have sex, with or without alcohol, they could be just as curious as the boys. And of course that isn’t a problem in itself, or shouldn’t be, at least.

But, if they would have sex they’d be immediately branded as sluts. And that was part of the evil circle, as some girls felt they had to lie afterwards and say they’d been pressured into it, which led to some boys (and girls!) beleving that it was normal to pressure/be pressured for sex, and those that actually were pressured or even raped were quite often not taken seriosuly and so on, and so on. Really sad…

Lawtears // Posted 6 November 2008 at 12:25 pm

Laura Woodhouse wrote:

… or being given extra strong drinks by predatorial men who are out to rape them.

What’s the difference between men here? We might have Nick, he’s getting pissed and really hopes to have a shag later tonight. On the other corner we have Bob. He too is getting pissed and wants to get off. Lets assume one of them is a rapist. Lets also assume that the only drugs available are the ones from behind the bar. So how can you tell which one is which *before* leaving the bar? Answer: You can’t. Maybe one might seem a little weirder than the other, but apart from that, they will probably act the same, ordering more drink, chatting you up, both will casually squeeze in the odd double/triple.

The difference between the two guys physical activities is actually zero and that’s partly the problem. Now, take off 10 years off the guys, add in even more alcohol and add in an extra squirt of testosterone and a severe load of basic immaturity. Now tell me why you are surprised that boys come up with attitudes such as this? Half pissed, half arsed boys are going to go through with this. Boys are going to learn through experience that this is what men seem to do. And so they go and do it. And as such, they can’t really tell the difference between raping and shagging. Hell, sometimes adults have that problem too.

My conclusion: boys think rape is ok because society thinks sex is ok, but assumes that men/boys ‘get it’ whilst, in reality, they don’t.

A said:

I have never heard that children need a ‘positive female figure’.

Well, of course they don’t ‘need’ a +ve female figure. I was born in the ’70s. Society is positively dripping with female figures. Children ‘need’ a female figure the way an obese man ‘needs’ another pizza. I’ve never had a ‘positive male figure’ in my life. I don’t even know what that means or what that implies.

Lawtears

lisa // Posted 6 November 2008 at 12:27 pm

I’d just like to clarify to several of the commentators and agree with Laura that the positive male role model is needed precisely to counter the negative role models who are unfortunately very loud and obvious.

Positive female role models are also needed by children but that’s a slightly different issue. The only role they could play on this point would be to provide girls with examples of how to manage alcohol consumption, how to identify and avoid predatory males, self-defense etc which are only damage limitation and don’t address the real problem.

JenniferRuth // Posted 6 November 2008 at 1:50 pm

A – that was a very powerful comment and I wish more people could read it.

Qubit // Posted 6 November 2008 at 2:03 pm

“The study took place during 2005 in a large town in the north of England. Nurse led sexual health ‘outreach’ clinics are situated within youth clubs serving mainly socially deprived areas where teen pregnancy rates are highest.”

“The sample of young people, although drawn from different clinics, were all of white European origin and there may indeed be cultural angles to this topic that were not elicited from this sample.”

It also mentions that all participants had attended the centre at least twice. The paper also comments that it would be hard to judge whether some of the comments by the males were bravado or their actual beliefs and the views may be bias by peer pressure.

A. you sound like you work very hard for your daughter and I hope things become easier for you. I am sure as she grows up she will learn to appreciate how much you have done for her. I can’t say much about raising children myself as I don’t have any but I wish you luck.

how_to_be_topp // Posted 6 November 2008 at 2:56 pm

Worryingly, a lot of these attitudes are prevalent in older generations as well. I posted an example of my own sisters experiences concerning sexual violence on the Woman’s Hour message board

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbradio4/F2766779?thread=6046124&post=71295373#p71295373

and many seemed very willing to defend her assaulter rather than sympathise with her.

Virgil at the crossroads // Posted 6 November 2008 at 4:07 pm

I find this comment thread a bit worrying.

I don’t have access to the article either, but the abstract is clear that this is a piece of qualitative research, not a survey.

You need to be careful to distinguish what can be found out using different research modalities. Qualitative research methods are very good at uncovering the complexities involved in social interactions, and they can be used to find out interesting things about the way that particular people experience their social context. Where what they find out can be linked to commonly occurring factors, some tentative generalisations can be made.

What they cannot do is license inferences about the attitudes of whole groups of the population. It should be obvious that interviewing 35 young people doesn’t allow you to draw conclusions about what ‘a whole generation’ of young people think about (for instance) rape, even less so given the focus group methodology.

That said, I’d agree that the study sounds worrying; not least because of what it suggests about the way that some young people (and probably some older ones for that matter) interact with each other.

P.s. props to Emma, keep up the good work.

A. // Posted 6 November 2008 at 6:31 pm

“Positive female role models are also needed by children but that’s a slightly different issue. The only role they could play on this point would be to provide girls with examples of how to manage alcohol consumption, how to identify and avoid predatory males, self-defense etc which are only damage limitation and don’t address the real problem.”

Thank you, lisa, once again stating that women are worthless and are only useful to wipe children’s butts and that only people who can teach children anything useful are the ones born male, identifying as male and having male genitalia.

JenniferRuth, Qubit, thank you, I always feel uncomfortable challenging single-mother-intolerant stuff and English is not my native language, so thank you a lot.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 6 November 2008 at 10:48 pm

Admittedly this study was conducted on a small number of teenage boys but previous research on male sexual beliefs has consistently shown that teen boys and adult males believe it is acceptable to use coercion, pressure or simply ignore a woman’s/girl’s right of ownership of her body. It is called rape – no ifs no buts.

Note the boys who said they would ply teen girls with alcohol are in fact enacting rape ideas and no it is not parents’ fault it is society’s. Reason is because women and girls are still being held accountable for male sexual behaviour. Until boys learn they are not automatically entitled to sexual access to any female but will be held accountable for their sexual behaviour, nothing will change.

Look at the conviction rate since only 5% of males charged with rape are convicted and one of the reasons is because society still holds women and girls accountable for males committing rape.

We must start educating boys from 5 upwards that being biologically male does not automatically give them the right of committing rape or coercing and forcing women and girls into unwanted sexual activity.

Males must be held responsible for their actions and it is never a woman’s or girl’s fault if a male rapes her or coerces her into unwanted sexual activity.

But somehow challenging male sexual entitlement is seen as not relevant but instead the focus continues to be on girls’/women’s behaviour. This is called rape apology.

Rape Crisis Scotland has a new campaign aimed where it belongs with males who believe it is their right to commit rape only they don’t call it rape – it is called male sexual entitlement.

Mary P. Ross, Andrea Parrot, Alan D. Berkowitz and Jackson Katz to name a few academic experts have all studied rape and rape culture. They all agree it is the social construction of male sexuality and male sexual entitlement which causes rape. The focus has to be on challenging this dominant view and Emma is right , more needs to be done to challenge entrenched male views concerning their supposed sexual rights.

Take a look at Rape Crisis website and also Truth About Rape because on these sites are listed common myths concerning justifying and excusing rape.

John // Posted 7 November 2008 at 10:30 am

Jennifer,

“previous research on male sexual beliefs has consistently shown that teen boys and adult males believe it is acceptable to use coercion, pressure or simply ignore a woman’s/girl’s right of ownership of her body. It is called rape – no ifs no buts”

I see an extension of the definition of rape here. What exactly do you mean by coercion and pressure?

Anne Onne // Posted 7 November 2008 at 12:23 pm

Coercion, according to dictionary.com, is the use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance. This can involve the use of express or implied threats of violence or reprisal (as discharge from employment) or other intimidating behavior that puts a person in immediate fear of the consequences in order to compel that person to act against his or her will.

When we’re talking about pressure, we’re talking about repeatedly nagging someone to have sex, or using peer pressure to achieve it. Many girls feel pressured to have sex because everybody else seems to be, and making them feel not normal and telling them they’re frigid bitches unless they have sex right now is pressuring them. Nagging someone for sex all night when they need to sleep, so that they give in to shut you up is pressuring them.

Part of being in a position of privilege is that you can use the power difference for your benefit. Boys use the pressure girls face to drink, the pressure they face to conform and keep up with their peers, and the pressure girls face to keep boys keen by sexually serving them to get what they want. In an unpatriarchical world, those boys wouldn’t believe that pressure is different to rape, because they would not believe that their wanting sex takes precedence over the girls’ wishes to not have sex.

The definition of rape is ‘the unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.’ so we’re not talking about changing the definition, because it already states that duress, which is compulsion by threat or force, ie coersion or pressure is rape. It’s not really consent if someone only consents because they think you’re going to kill them, but it’s also not really consent if someone only consents to shut

When a boy tells a girl he won’t love her and will go elsewhere because she says she’s not ready, it’s coersion. It’s not wrong for someone to leave if they’re not getting what they want out of a relationship, but it is wrong to pressure someone to do something you know they don’t want to do, just because you want it. When a boy keeps pestering a girl for sex when she already said no, it’s pressure.

Also, A, It’s been really interesting to read your comments. It really is not right how little the work single mothers put in is recognised, and not at all funny that completely absent fathers or bad fathers are ignored because people are too busy judging the women who are trying hard to raise their children as best as they can. Many single mothers raise excellent children, and many two parent families raise problem children, and this isn’t acknowledged.

For what it’s worth, I think that Lisa might be trying to say that men need to take respondibility in imparting anti-rape values in other men and boys, but the focus and the phrasing is problematic because single mothers are not to blame for the overwhelming attitude problem of society, or how bad the role models of the men that were/are in their lives are.

Virgil, we’re not looking at this in a vacuum, but within the context of other studies which report that a worrying chunk of people beleive women are to blame for rape, and the worrying incidence of rape and abuse of women. Yes, we know this is one small study, but it’s a continuation of the message that society openly gives through the media, and the reality women experience.

Rh ona // Posted 7 November 2008 at 7:27 pm

Hi Anne,

While I totally agree with your comment below –

“And I’d suggest that it’s not so much whether there’s a male figure in the picture as what kind of a male figure it is: if we take the statistics that boys who grow up witnessing domestic violence (usually an abusive father) are more likely to be abusive, and girls in the same situation more likely to become abuse victims, then it could be that many of these boys are acting out behaviours they see enacted at home. If that’s the case, not having a father figure would be preferable, even.”

– I think Maggie might have been referring to a positive male influence of some sort rather than a heteronormative ‘father’.

I strongly agree with your statement that it’s not necessarily the presence of ‘a’ male figure, but more importanly, a positive male figure that affects children’s beliefs and attitudes.

I have a number of female friends who are single mothers to both sons and daughters and they do feel that parenting boys is ‘different’ (I’m not a parent, so I can’t really expand on why this might be!) and that having a positive male presence of some kind – be that a friend, brother or teacher – around does make things clearer.

I do think that children of both sexes benefit from being surrounded by healthy influences from both sexes – girl children derive just as much benefit from seeing how ‘good’ men treat women as boy children do and vice versa.

Humans are pack animals by nature and if your life view of the opposite sex is based on either a negative experience or, indeed, a total lack of interaction, I don’t think this can be healthy.

This is why I’m such a fan of mentoring schemes, particularly for young people who grow up in single parent families (whether headed by a mother or a father) – I do believe that witnessing positive behaviour in both sexes at an early age leads to healthier relationships (gay or straight) in later life.

Anne Onne // Posted 8 November 2008 at 1:40 pm

Yes, that’s really good clarification. It’s not that I believed Maggie’s personal view was that it should be a heteronormative ‘father’ role, but rather that I think for most people who bring this up, there is a lot of baggage to do with feeling uncomfortable with non-traditional families because they’re ‘different’, and wanting people to adhere to a standard rather than really thinking about how kids can have all sorts of role models

Also, whilst I do believe children would benefit from role models like them to help give them an idea of how to cope with the expectations of their gender or body stuff, I don’t think that most people really think about what the problems may be when they pressure single mothers to stay with fathers, or insist that children need a father figure.

I think we can agree that witnessing good behaviour and attitudes from diverse people is important for children.

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