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Salud mental

versión impresa ISSN 0185-3325


SALDIVAR HERNANDEZ, Gabriela  y  ROMERO MENDOZA, Martha Patricia. Recognition and use of sexual coercion tactics in men and women in the context of heterosexual relations a study of university students. Salud Ment [online]. 2009, vol.32, n.6, pp.487-494. ISSN 0185-3325.

Violence is a problem gone through by people in one way or another because of the great amount of manifestations in which it is presented. Sexual violence constitutes one of those ways. At the present time, sexual violence is considered a high-priority problem of public health and of human rights; this type of violence is presented in a continuum that goes from groping to forced sexual relationships. Most of the people associate sexual violence with its extreme form which is rape, but, what does it happen with that type of violence where subtlety or persuasions are involved in order to obtain a sexual relationship? This kind of violence is denominated sexual coercion, and it is defined as the use of any type of physical or emotional pressure used by a person to impose on another one acts of sexual order in the context of a heterosexual encounter of mutual agreement to go out together, to get to know themselves, or to have a romantic or erotic relationship, or a more formal relationship such as the courtship. Sexual coercion is a phenomenon mainly studied in heterosexual and student populations and by means of the theory of sexual scripts is one of the forms adopted by it that have been theoretically tackled with. Sexual scripts are all those structural blocks of knowledge information processing where concepts, categories and relationships based on social experience are gathered and which indicate how heterosexual sexual relationships are to be. The vast majority of the studies on sexual coercion have provided enough evidence on the fact that men are the main perpetrators and women are mostly the injured victims. In developing countries, such as Mexico, several studies show that young men frequently feel with the right, precisely for the fact of being men, to have sexual relationships with young women. For this reason, it is understandable that young women's sexual activity is mostly stigmatized, what can contribute to the acceptance of sexual coercion within the intimate couple relationships as a more <<masculine>> behavior and socially accepted. For this reason, although men can in some moment be sexually constrained and women can exert coercion, the meaning of the fact can be different and, besides, behaviors that are carried out to obtain the wanted sexual behavior themselves also differ between men and women. Tactics constitutes a clear example on the difference between men and women in the act of coercion. Some international studies have identified, in general terms, two types of sexual coercion tactics: indirect and the direct ones. The indirect tactics are strategies in which the person hides his/her sexual purpose. The direct tactics are strategies where the person openly uses physical or psychological force to compel the other one to get involved in certain sexual activity. In Mexico there are not studies about sexual coercion in non formal relationships of heterosexual couples. Because of the above-mentioned, the present work objectives were to know the frequency and type of sexual coercion tactics in men and women university students. Methods and material Three hundred and twenty students were interviewed, 49.7% of them were men and 50.3% women, and the average individual age was of 21 years. The sample was a non random one and the study was of exploratory type. A questionnaire ad hoc of open questions was elaborated, which made inquiries on the tactics used by men and women to press people of another sex to have a sexual relationship. Personal experiences of sexual coercion were also investigated. The application of the instrument was carried out in a group way and its length was around 45 minutes. Open questions were analyzed through the search of thematic units and categories. The contents analysis was used and later transformed into cases count in order to make the corresponding statistical analysis. Result About the experience of sexual coercion, 33.4% of the total sample mentioned that he/she had been victim of sexual coercion. Women (56.1 %) reported being mainly victims of sexual coercion contrary to the men (43.9%), when carrying out an X2 statistics there were not significant differences, in statistical terms, between men and women. Nine point four percent of the total sample mentioned that he/she had exerted sexual coercion toward his/her couple. Men (83.3%) reported to have mainly exerted sexual coercion toward their couple contrary to women (16.7%). When carrying out an X2 statistics a significant difference, in statistical terms, between men and women was found [X2=16.21, (gl =320/1) p = .000]. Regarding the frequency of the different tactics used by men, men and women reported that the indirect tactics are the most used by men to press women to have sexual relationships. Among the indirect tactics there were found the blackmail, the <<test of love>>, the verbal deceits, etc. On the other hand, the direct tactics such as threats of physical violence, use of physical violence, insistent petting, etc., were less used by men. Regarding sexual coercion tactics used by women, men and women who participated in the sample, mentioned that direct tactics are more used by women to press a man to have sexual relationships. Within this kind of tactics there were found sexual advances using the body, use of physical violence, use of verbal violence, etc. With respect to the indirect tactics, there were verbal deceits, blackmail, psychological threats, among others. Discussion This research is barely an exploratory study, non representative, but we consider that it makes a contribution of descriptive type to the understanding of sexual coercion in heterosexual relationships when considering both men as women. As it is observed in the results about the experience of sexual coercion, in general terms, such as it is shown in other studies, women were the main victims of sexual coercion, although some men reported being victims, there were no significant difference. Besides, as in other studies, men were those who mostly reported to exert sexual coercion contrary to women, being differences significant in statistical terms. Regarding the tactics used by men in order to coerce their couple, men and women who participated in the sample recognized the indirect tactics as the most used ones, which is in agreement with the outcomes found in other studies. What makes these results interesting is the fact that women recognize in a more open and significant way, that the way a man exerts coercion to a woman is by means of an indirect tactics. These results are much related with the sexual scripts where the man has to gain a sexual access to the woman. With regard to sexual coercion tactics used by women, the direct ones are outstanding, that is to say, those in which woman openly uses the physical, psychological or economic force to press a man to have sexual relationships. The studies about domestic violence state, on the whole, that violence is more exerted by men toward women than the opposite case. Nevertheless, there are also studies about domestic violence which state that women are as aggressive as men. These studies have been questioned and at the moment the debate persists about the findings, because although women use physical violence, it is important to wonder about the intensity of the blow or if the physical violence is rather a defensive answer. The results of this study show the relevance of knowing more about this phenomenon, since many of the subjects in this study are not able to identify any event of sexual coercion in their relationship, reason for which it will be necessary to search what is happening in Mexico on this matter and to even go into the topic of youth's relationships, in particular, the heterosexual ones and the scripts that regulate this relationship, in order to be able of creating better prevention programs guided to eliminate domestic violence to obtain a better mental, sexual and reproductive health.

Palabras llave : Sexual coercion tactics; sexual scripts; gender differences; sexual coercion victims and perpetrators; university students.

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