Essay about Sexual Coercion And Sexual Assault

Essay about Sexual Coercion And Sexual Assault

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A question among researchers is what type of force is required to constitute sexual assault. Does non-physical sexual coercion count as sexual assault? Russell (1982) found that women described sexual coercion as different than sexual assault, showing that there is a major distinction in their minds of these types of sexual violence. Thus, her research team distinguished between use of physical force and non-physical coercion, even to the point of determining which actions constitute physical force. Their criteria for use of force included “such acts as pushing, pinning, and being held down by a husband’s weight so that the woman couldn’t move,” (p. 48). In chapter five of their seminal work License to Rape (1985), Finkellhor & Yllo present a lengthy discussion on coerced sex without the use of physical force. They note the conundrum of this issue:
Some feminists assert that sex as a martial chore constitutes coercion and a form of rape… but many women are reluctant to call such sexual intimidation rape. Oppressive
though it may be, they feel that it involves a qualitatively different kind of coercion from
rape and are aware of a certain voluntary submission on their own part to the obligation… Is it rape when a woman has sex to ‘keep the peace in the house’? On the one hand, calling it rape highlights how oppressive and coercive sex is under such circumstances. On the other hand, calling it raped means substantially expanding—and at the same time diluting—the meaning of the word ‘rape’. (p. 85)

They ultimately chose to limit the term ‘rape’ to situations of actual or threatened physical force, acknowledging that other kinds of force can be frightening and traumatic. Bagwell-Gray, Messing, and Baldwin-White (2015) uphold the...


... middle of paper ...


...t this is a gap in the IPSV literature.
Sexual Abuse (Low Force / Low Invasiveness). Sexual abuse is “The use of psychological abuse tactics to keep an intimate partner in a submissive position of power. Strategies include sexual degradation, non-contact unwanted sexual experience (e.g., being forced to watch pornography), and reproductive and sexual control,” (Bagwell-Gray, Messing, & Baldwin-White, 2015, p. 323). It is low in force, because non-physical control tactics are used, and it is low in invasiveness because no sexual penetration is involved. Sexual abuse is different than sexual coercion in that the perpetrator is not coercing sex but is rather controlling sex-related decision making. Some examples of sexually controlling acts are refusing to wear condoms, having sex outside the primary relationship, and birth control sabotage (Campbell & Soeken, 1999).

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