An increasing number of men are admitting to having sex with women, not because they want to, but to prove they are not gay.
Jesse Ford, a PhD sociology student at New York University, interviewed 39 college-aged men, from a variety of backgrounds, who said they have had unwanted, non-consensual sex with women.
The study was published by Oxford Academic, and was inspired by the lack of men who have come forward during the #MeToo movement.
Ford explained that “unwanted” sex was very different from sexual assault, as it is not forced upon someone and they have the power to stop it. She clarified: “All sexual assault is unwanted sex, but not all unwanted sex is sexual assault.”
Of the men she interviewed, Ford said: “These men were reluctant to call their experiences sexual assault, and were more comfortable with terms such as ‘unwanted’ and ‘non-consensual.’”
The student quickly noticed a pattern as to why the men had unwanted sex with women, with many revealing they felt pressurised.
One participant said: “There is this social pressure that men like sex a lot and women can choose yes or no. So I guess it makes you unmanly if you don’t want to have sex.”
Another explained: “When a girl comes on to you, you’re just like ‘OK, I’ll accept this’ because that almost never happens. That was a lot of why I went ahead with it.”
And a third said: “I even said ‘thank you’ afterwards even though I didn’t really want to have sex. I was still playing the role of someone who wanted to be in that moment … I didn’t want to give off any impressions of weirdness.”
Ford writes: “Many described having unwanted sex in order to project an image and to take advantage of a sexual opportunity. They worried that saying ‘no’ to sex might be strange, immature, offensive or emasculating. A looming fear was ridicule, and they didn’t want to be talked about as the kind of man who rejects sex with an attractive woman, lest others might see them as a ‘virgin,’ an ‘idiot’ or someone who’s ‘gay.’”
She concluded by highlighting that there could possibly be a large chunk missing when we debate sex.
“I do think it’s important to understand how and why it happens. And it does make me wonder if it’s a missing piece in the overall debate over sex in our culture.”