How Little Has Changed

When I first saw the subject title “Sexual Coercion and Aggression in Dating” in the Relationships and Sexuality article I figured it would be about rape and violent unwanted intercourse. These are things, although prevalent in the news and included in the plotline of many modern TV shows, I do not feel apply to myself. After reading the findings of scholars on the subject, I was shocked at how relatable their conclusions were to the average life of a college student.
Sexual coercion has come to encompass simply kissing someone and being manipulated into doing something against your will. This does not necessarily have to mean engaging in consensual sexual intercourse. With excessive drinking and peer pressure, I think that college is the quintessential setting for this type of behavior to occur in. I also think it was extremely interesting that they linked the frequency that one would have the tendency to engage in this behavior to ones childhood experiences. It makes sense that someone with poor peer relationships and who had more same-sex sexually active friends growing up were more likely to be coerced into an unwanted situation. I was also not shocked to discover that females have a much higher tendency to fall victim to manipulation than men.
From my personal experience, my friends who are more insecure and grew up with more girlfriends are the ones throughout college who have been more susceptible to being treated poorly by boys. When coming to college, relationships with boys were something they actively sought out because it was something that they previously did not get the chance to experience. I think that many people feel a sense of false security when they engage in a relationship with the opposite sex. Although it is comforting to be in a relationship, it often leads to even greater insecurities and lower self-esteem. More often than not, someone who is in a relationship “just to be in a relationship” would do anything that their partner tells them to do just to maintain their partnership. This form of sexual coercion just reinforces manipulation and dependence on others.
I also recognize the truth in the findings about sexually coercive men. It was concluded that these men date more frequently, begin sexual activity at an early age especially in non-committed relationships, and prefer casual sexual encounters. Men that exhibit these types of traits would be labeled in modern society as “players”. It does not help that more often that not, boys who engage in this type of behavior are lauded by their peers. This praise just gives fuel to the fire and reinforces a toxic cycle. So, from what I first felt was not applicable to me actually turned out describing a typical college experience. I would hope that this is a phase that teenagers go through and learn to grow out of, as they either realize that this is not a way to maintain a healthy relationship or, on the other end, gain more self-respect for themselves. It is also interesting to note that although this study was conducted in the 1990s, nothing has really changed at all.

2 thoughts on “How Little Has Changed

  1. It’s funny to me that you chose to write about this because I had just recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about a subject closely related to this. It pertained to the fact that often times those in a relationship often times can feel even more pressure to do certain things in order to keep their significant other happy. Often times this can lead to unwanted experimentation or leaving one feeling that they are not doing enough to help the relationship. But the most interesting part to me was the point you made about this being a phase. I feel it is way too early to tell. Even though the Internet has been around for a little more than a couple of decades now, it is still in its infantile stages and it’s possibilities are limitless. With technology increasing and the increasing rates of Internet sex due to ease of access and, this could end up being more than just a phase for more than just men but women too. These new forms of sex even extend to our night time television where ads bombard the viewer with sex hotlines. I would expect this not to phase out, but rather persist for some time.

  2. The block: Please stay tuned for our discussions of rape and sexual assault when we get into our “Sexual Health” section. Lauren Bernstein from the Office of Health Promotion will come and talk to us about how this issues impact the Emory campus.

    Both your post and Team STI’s comment made me think about the blog post we read on asexuality on the importance of dating and desire in adolescence. The author talked about how dating, desiring others and perhaps even having sex were all seen as part of “growing up” and she wondered what if you don’t have those experiences or feelings, does it mean you are not “grown up”?

    What messages are young men and women getting about dating, desire and sex? And how do they often enforce this “double standard” you speak of.

    Women: be sexy (read: thin, wear makeup, get your hair done, wear designer clothes, know how to please your man, etc) but don’t be too sexy (read: slutty). Check this out:

    Men: look sharp and live smart. You should care about: fashion, politics, sports, cars, and sexy women. Check this out:

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