Sexual Coercion: Men Victimized by Women

Article excerpt

A 12-item inventory designed to assess mild, moderate, and severe forms of sexual coercion was administered to an ethnically diverse sample of 182 college men at California State University, Long Beach. Results reveal that 70% of subjects reported experiencing some form of sexual coercion within the past five years. Mild and moderate forms of sexual coercion were most commonly experienced. Younger men were somewhat more likely than older men to report being sexually coerced. An ethnic difference in response was found on one item.

Along the spectrum of intergender tension, sexual coercion, which involves such unwanted sexual activities as kissing, petting, and oral, anal, and sexual intercourse, has aroused much societal and scholarly concern (e.g., Cochran, Frazier, & Olson, 1997; Lewin, 1985; Russell, 1984). Until quite recently men were exclusively identified as perpetrators of sexual coercion and women perceived primarily as victims (e.g., Koss, Gidycz, & Wisniewski, 1987; Malamuth, 1986; Muehlenhard & Linton, 1987; Rapaport & Burkhart, 1984). However, within the past decade a number of investigators (Muehlenhard & Cook, 1988; Poppen & Segal, 1988; Stets & Pirog-Good, 1989; Struckman-Johnson, 1988; Waldner-Haugrud & Magruder, 1995) have examined heterosexual dating relations and found that significant numbers of men also report being victims of sexual coercion by female partners.

Several studies have provided gender comparisons in the area of sexual coercion. Muehlenhard and Cook (1988) developed a 51-item questionnaire and compared unwanted sexual activity among 507 male and 486 female college students. Results revealed that 97.5% of women and 93.5% of men experienced unwanted kissing, petting, or intercourse sometime in their lives. More men than women reported unwanted intercourse: 62.7% vs. 46.3%. Poppen and Segal (1988) developed a questionnaire to assess whether subjects had ever used or experienced coercive strategies to initiate sexual behavior. Results from 100 female and 77 male college students revealed that 74% of women and 44% of men had been victims of at least one coercive behavior perpetrated by their partners. Stets and Pirog-Good (1989) administered a seven-item sexual abuse survey to 118 male and 169 female college students and found that 36% of the women and 22% of the men reported being sexually abused by one or more dating partners during the previous year. Struckman-Johnson (1988) developed a survey to assess experience with forced sexual behavior. Administered to 355 female and 268 male college students, the survey found that 22% of the women and 16% of the men had experienced forced sex at least once in their lifetimes. Finally, Waldner-Haugrud and Magruder (1995) developed a survey to investigate unwanted sexual behavior as a function of 12 coercive techniques. Results, from a sample of 220 female and 202 male college students, revealed that men reported 457 and women 628 incidents of unwanted sexual behavior.

The present investigation pursues the study of male victimization by examining the degree, from mild to severe, of sexual coercion experienced by an ethnically diverse group of college men.

METHOD

PARTICIPANTS

An opportunity sample of 182 college men at California State University at Long Beach participated in the study during the spring semester, 1997. Approximately half the subjects were students from upper division psychology and ethnic studies courses, while the other half were randomly recruited from public areas on campus. All subjects were provided with informed consent materials that indicated that their participation was voluntary, and procedures were followed to maintain the anonymity and confidentiality of responses. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 50 with a mean age of 24.6 years. Ethnicities included 15 African Americans (8%), 47 Asians (26%), 69 Caucasians (38%), 33 Hispanics (18%), and 18 identified as "other or declined to state" (10%). …