Rape Culture and Sexual Coercion

TW: rape

Kimberly Chapman has published a thoughtful post on sexual coercion. She discusses research on how men misunderstand the concept of rape. As I wrote on Kimberley’s original thread, there is a lot of social science research showing that the socialisation of sex is a big part of this problem. Men and women don’t know how to recognise rape because sexual coercion is part of the way rape culture becomes normalised. 

Research on teenagers shows that girls experience sexual coercion regularly within their early relationships. They do not see this as rape and they do not understand these experiences as abnormal because they have nothing else to compare to. Heterosexual girls and boys are socialised to accept the idea that girls are the “gatekeepers” of male sexuality. Girls are put in a “no win situation” where if they don’t have sex, they risk losing their boyfriends, who pressure them into sex. At the same time, if they don’t carefully manage their sexual relationships, they will be seen as “sluts” or “too easy.” Girls and boys see that it’s a woman’s role to keep boys’ sexual desires in check; it’s their job to say no; and they buy into the myth that once sex is initiated it’s too difficult to say no (see for example this study).

At the cultural levels, rape is constructed as something that happens to women as they walk down the street at night, even though research shows that women are overwhelmingly raped and assaulted by intimate partners. Nationally representative data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics finds that 17% of all Australian women aged over 18 have experienced sexual assault since the age of 15; this obviously does not include under-age girls.  Almost 88% of these incidents involved a man that the women knew, predominantly former partners, as well as friends, colleagues and family members.

Only 14% of these women reported incidents involving a partner to the police, and only 16% reported incidents involving a stranger. The main reason for not reporting rape and sexual assault is that the women thought others would perceive the event was “too minor” and they wanted to avoid being shamed. 

We need to move away from thinking that there are different “kinds” of rape, and see the connection between a culture of coercion and sexual assault.

28 thoughts on “Rape Culture and Sexual Coercion


  1. Where were you when this happened to me? I was married & a family “friend” raped me 30 yrs ago. EVERYTHING you describe happened to me!! I have been able to help so many women through the yrs understand what they didn’t ”deserve” ! Keep telling them sis~God bless you!

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  2. Chandra Mohan Sharma​ I want to understand your comment. Do you mean women should share their experiences of sexual assault instead of keeping it to themselves?


    If so I agree, but not all women feel safe to share this due to the stigma put on rape survivors. We must change the mindset around sexual coercion and teach all men not to rape. The criminal justice system needs an overhaul too, with better protection and support for survivors.

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  3. So sorry & happy you pointed this out to me. In the interest of conserving space & time I believe I omitted that I Counsel Addicts & do Marriage and Family Therapy. Seems like I am frequently in the position of sensing that rape may be part of an underlying issue. When this occures, I start to share my own experience and how my husband and I overcame it. I am either met with, ”oh! I’m so sorry that happened to you” or a flood of tears followed by THEIR experience. I’d LOVE to tell you that this has always worked but one woman 30+ years ago actually left my office & went home & hung herself because she believed she’d lost everything! With the help of a Therapist & a wonderful husband, I SOMEHOW found the Strength to go on & all these years later I’man still at it. SO many of the addicted women began their descent into their addiction after a rape incident. Many, when they can no longer afford their habits get into prostitution, which of course again begins a cycle of more rape and


    beatings when they don’t ”produce”  I pray this has brought more clarity to my posting. Thanks for taking the time to respond & God Bless.


    Sent from BlueMail

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  4. Stanford Pines Your insights into this topic are staggering and while it is very brave indeed to write under a pseudonym and sprout sexist nonsense, as do millions of other men also writing under silly pseudonyms, your misplaced anger towards women is best worked out elsewhere. Good luck with your “high IQ level” as per your About page. The world will become less scary when you work out your gender troubles.

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