Men and women's acceptance of coercive sexual strategies varied by initiator gender and couple intimacy

Abstract

Seventy-two men and 86 women read vignettes describing five coercive strategies for obtaining sexual intercourse on a date. Subjects rated the acceptability of strategies used by male and female initiators for couples who were or were not sexually intimate. Subjects generally rejected all tactics. Results revealed a continuum of increasing rejection from verbal pressure and sexual stimulation, followed by mock force, followed by intoxication and physical force. Although women were more rejecting of any strategy than were men, women were slightly less opposed to verbal pressure and stimulation for “more sex” rather than for “first-time sex.” Women equally rejected most male- and female-initiated strategies, but men were more accepting of female-initiated strategies. Results are explained in terms of sex role norms prescribing that men be initiators and women be gatekeepers in sexual interaction.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Acock, A. C., & Ireland, N. K. (1983). Attribution of blame in rape cases: The impact of norm violation, gender, and sex-role attitude. Sex Roles, 9, 179–193.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Ageton, S. S. (1988). Vulnerability to sexual assault. In A. W. Burgess (Ed.) Rape and Sexual Assault II. New York: Garland.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Burt, M. R., & Albin, R. S. (1981). Rape myths, rape definitions, and probability of conviction. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 11, 212–230.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Cassell, C. (1988). Swept away: Why women fear their own sexuality. New York: Simon & Shuster.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Christopher, F. S. (1988). An initial investigation into a continuum of premarital sexual pressure. The Journal of Sex Research, 25, 255–266.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Dietz, S. R., Littman, M., & Bentley, B. J. (1984). Attribution of responsibility for rape: The influence of observer empathy, victim resistance, and victim attractiveness. Sex Roles, 10, 261–280.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Doyle, J. A. (1989). The male experience (2nd ed.), Dubuque, IA: Wm. C. Brown.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Fischer, G. J. (1989). College students attitudes toward forcible date rape: I. Cognitive predictors. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 15, 457–466.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Garcia, L., Milano, L., & Quijano, A. (1989). Perceptions of coercive sexual behavior by males and females. Sex Roles, 21, 569–577.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Goodchilds, J. D., Zellman, G. L., Johnson, P. B., & Giarrusso, R. (1988). Adolescents and their perceptions of sexual interactions. In A. W. Burgess (Ed.) Rape and sexual assault II. New York: Garland.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Jenkins, M. J., & Dambrot, F. H. (1987). The attribution of date rape: Observer's attitudes and sexual experiences and the dating situation. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 17, 875–895.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Johnson, J. D., & Jackson, L. A., (1988). Assessing the effects of factors that might underlie the differential perception of acquaintance and stranger rape. Sex Roles, 19, 37–45.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Krulewitz, J., & Payne, E. J. (1978). Attributions about rape: Effects of rapist force, observer sex and sex role attitudes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 8, 291–305.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Lott, B. (1987). Women's lives. Monterey, CA: Brooks-Cole.

    Google Scholar 

  15. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Margolin, L., Miller, M., & Moran, P. B. (1989). When a kiss is not just a kiss: Relating violations of consent in kissing to rape myth acceptance. Sex Roles, 20, 231–243.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Muehlenhard, C. L., & Cook, S. W. (1986, June). “Real men don't say no”: Do men have sex when they don't want to? Paper presented at the annual midcontinent meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex, Madison, WI.

  18. Muehlenhard, C. L., & Cook, S. W. (1988). Men's self-reports of unwanted sexual activity. Journal of Sex Research, 24, 58–72.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Muehlenhard, C. L., Friedman, D. E., & Thomas, C. M. (1985). Is date rape justifiable: The effects of dating activity, who initiated, who paid, and men's attitudes toward women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 9, 297–310.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Poppen, P. J., & Segal, N. J. (1988). The influence of sex and sex role orientation on sexual coercion. Sex Roles, 19, 689–701.

    Google Scholar 

  21. SAS Institute, Inc. (1985). SAS user's guide: Basics, Version 5 edition. Cary, NC: Author.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Shotland, R. L., & Goodstein, L. (1983). Just because she doesn't want to doesn't mean it's rape: An experimentally based causal model of the perception of rape in a dating situation. Social Psychology Quarterly, 46, 220–232.

    Google Scholar 

  23. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Struckman-Johnson, C. (1988). Forced sex on dates: It happens to men, too. Journal of Sex Research, 24, 234–240.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Zilbergeld, B. (1978). Male sexuality. New York: Bantam Books and Little, Brown.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Struckman-Johnson, D., Struckman-Johnson, C. Men and women's acceptance of coercive sexual strategies varied by initiator gender and couple intimacy. Sex Roles 25, 661–676 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00289570

Download citation

Keywords

  • Social Psychology
  • Sexual Intercourse
  • Sexual Interaction
  • Physical Force
  • Female Initiator