What is Sexual Coercion?
Sexual coercion is a form of emotional manipulation used to pressure you into engaging in a sexual act. Perpetrators use a variety of tactics to convince you that the agreement to engage in the sexual activity is consensual. Consent given as a result of coercion is NOT consent. Consent should always be freely given without the presence of pressure or manipulation. Unfortunately, sexual coercion is an incredible prevalent issue in society. For example, Psychology Today estimates that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men have experienced sexual coercion. Therefore, it is important to educate yourself and others on the subject of coercion.
Sexual Coercion Can Look Like...
- ✿ Being worn down by repeated asking or begging for sex or sexual contact.
- ✿ Making it seem like it’s too late to decline. (You always have the right to decline any form of sexual activity no matter how “far” you may have already gone. You can decide in the middle of having sex that you no longer want to continue, and your decision should be respected.)
- ✿ Guilt-tripping or making it seem like you owe them sex or sexual favors
- ✿ Threats or blackmail
Who Are the Perpetrators of Sexual Coercion?
Sexual coercion can be committed by anyone. This includes but is not limited to; bosses, teachers, police, family members, strangers, significant others, and more. Remember, just because you’re in a relationship does not mean you owe your partner(s) any sexual favors.
Let’s Talk About the “Blue Balls” Tactic
It’s not rare to come across a penis-owner who will say something like “you gave me blue balls” as a way to make you feel like you’re now responsible for ‘curing’ their blue balls with a sexual act, as if it is your fault for arousing them and now your duty to relieve them. This is never okay and is a form of sexual coercion. Don’t let someone try to make you feel like you owe them something by claiming that it’s a “boy thing” that you “wouldn’t understand,” instead, if someone ever tries to coerce you or anyone with this tactic, be confident in your response with this information:
- ✿ “Blue balls” isn’t an experience exclusive to those with a penis. Technically “blue vulva” exists too, but the name is never really used because the use of such a term is really only brought up to manipulate someone into performing a sexual act by making them feel responsible for relieving the sensation of “blue balls” or “blue vulva.” Thus due to the historical habits and current tendencies of our society, vulva owners are not typically found trying to guilt people into satisfying their sexual desires, thus the “blue vulva” tactic never became a tactic at all.
- ✿ “blue balls” or “blue vulva” is caused by increased blood flow to the genitals during arousal which can cause an aching feeling that is relieved after orgasm or after the arousal goes away. The ‘cure’ for “blue balls” isn’t just orgasm, it is also distracting oneself from arousal by doing something such as thinking of your grandpa, playing video games, going on a walk, or literally anything, including masturbating in private.
- ✿ “blue balls” should never be a reason to pressure someone into performing a sexual act and should never be the reason you perform a sexual act. You should only engage in activity that you feel comfortable doing and WANT to do, not something you feel obligated or pressured to do.
Unfortunately a common form of coercion centers around the use of protection during sexual activities. Someone may try convincing you to engage in sexual contact without a condom, assuming it is fine because you already consented to the secual act itself. This is coercion and you should absolutely never be pressured by someone into not using protection when you are uncomfortable. This is not the same as stealthing, which is when the condom is removed during sex without you knowing. If you ever find yourself speechless in this situation, we’ve created some premade responses for your use.
What to do if you have been sexually coerced
Sexual coercion can fall under different categories for different instances and in different states. It may be legally considered sexual harrassment, sexual assault, or even rape depending on where you live and what occured. If you feel comfortable doing so, reach out to a friend or trusted adult to tell them what happened and work through next steps. You can also do the following:
- ✿ If the incident was in school, or work, you can report the incident to your institution or even the police.
- ✿ If you’re in a safe place to do so, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673 or use the online chat feature to talk to a trained hotline worker any time
- ✿ You may want to seek therapy or counselling
- ✿ You may choose to do none of these, and that is also okay. Just as you shouldn’t be pressured into sex or sexual contact, you shouldn’t feel pressured into reporting the incident.
Sources: Womens Health, Psychology Today