Men have unwanted sex with women in order to avoid uncomfortable interactions and to conform to gender expectations, a new study claims.
A New York University sociologist interviewed 39 college men who said social pressure on men to want sex, force them to have unwanted sex with women because they will be deemed ‘unmanly’.
Another study published today from Binghamton University in New York also attempted to delve into the ‘reasons’ behind nonconsensual sex, finding that most men confuse sexual interest with consent because of a ‘no means yes’ complex.
These studies come in the wake of high-profile sexual harassment scandals which many of the accused men deem a ‘confusion’ rather than misconduct.
Men have unwanted sex with women to conform to gender expectations and to avoid uncomfortable situations, according to a study from New York University
In the NYU study, the men interviewed explained that their reasoning for unwanted sex was based on their broader ideas about gender which revealed: how they felt men were expected to act; what men were expected to want; and what actions might make men lose respect with their partner or others.
One participant said: ‘I think it’s an undercurrent to my thought-making…that guys are supposed to enjoy sexual intercourse under any circumstances.’
While another described that men can’t say no to women if she shows any interest.
He said: ‘(T)here is this social pressure that men like sex a lot and women can choose yes or no. So I guess it makes you unmanly if you don’t want to have sex.’
However, the second study reinforced the issue with the idea that women are the only ones who can decide whether or not they want sex.
The results published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence showed most of the 145 college men involved in the study tended to ‘confuse sexual interest with consent to sex,’ said the researchers.
The NYU study’s author, Jessie Ford, said: ‘There is also a tendency—one that likely applies to women as well as to men—that once a sexual interaction starts with a partner who seems to want sex, the desire to keep the exchange on an even keel eventually facilitates unwanted sex.’
These studies come in the wake of an onslaught of sexual harassment accusations of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein (left) and actor Kevin Spacey (right)
This adds to the growing concern that women in subordinate roles feel it is ‘too late’ to say no to men in power who come on to them, as seen in case of Harvey Weinstein who held his victim’s career as bait.
In recent months, more women have spoken out against their sexual abusers than ever before, fueling an online campaign where women post the words ‘#MeToo’ to show the vast number that have been victims of sexual misconduct that goes unreported.
Professor Richard Mattson of Binghamton University said sexual victimization of women is a growing concern in all environments of day to day life.
More specifically, instances of sexual violence are higher than any other crimes among college students.
‘We found the way in which the woman communicated her sexual intentions, that is verbal refusal versus passive responding, had the largest effect of men’s perceptions.’ But he added: ‘However, there was also evidence of a precedence effect.’
This occurs when men equate past sexual behavior to future consent of intimacy even in the face of direct refusal by the woman.
Ford says: ‘Although women experience a higher burden of sexual assault and harassment, heterosexual men also report unwanted sex.’
One out of every six American women has been the victim of sexual violence and one in 33 men have experienced sexual abuse.
And though the study said the sex men have is ‘unwanted’, it does not refer to it as nonconsensual or forced.