A new study examines the pervasive, but largely unexamined problem of sexual coercion among teen boys and young men. The study, published in the journalPsychology of Men and Masculinity, found that coerced sex is fairly common for teenage boys and college-age men and can lead to psychological distress and risky behavior, such as sexual risk-taking and alcohol use.
Regarding the study, the American Psychological Association reported that of high school boys and young college men surveyed, 43 percent said they had an unwanted sexual experience and of those, 95 percent said a female acquaintance was the aggressor.
“Sexual victimization continues to be a pervasive problem in the United States, but the victimization of men is rarely explored,” said lead author Bryana H. French, PhD, of the University of Missouri. “Our findings can help lead to better prevention by identifying the various types of coercion that men face and by acknowledging women as perpetrators against men.”
The study surveyed 284 teen boys and young men about unwanted sexual encounters and found that 18 percent reported sexual coercion by physical force; 31 percent said they were verbally coerced; 26 percent described unwanted seduction by sexual behaviors; and 7 percent said they were compelled after being given alcohol or drugs. Half of the students said they ended up having intercourse, 10 percent reported an attempt to have intercourse and 40 percent said the result was kissing or fondling.
Being coerced into having sexual intercourse was related to risky sexual behaviors and more drinking among the victims, and students who were sexually coerced while drunk or drugged showed significant distress, according to the findings. However, having unwanted sex did not appear to affect the victims’ self-esteem. “It may be the case that sexual coercion by women doesn’t affect males’ self-perceptions in the same way that it does when women are coerced. Instead it may inadvertently be consistent with expectations of masculinity and sexual desire, though more research is needed to better understand this relationship,” French said.