Sunday, March 30, 2014

Study showing that a significant percentage of boys and young men are victims of sexual coercion needs to be rejected as dangerous and inappropriate

Bryana H. French of the University of Missouri has quarterbacked a study, found here, concluding that four-in-10 U.S. high school boys and young college men say they were coerced into sex or sexual behavior and 95 percent said a female acquaintance was the aggressor.

This sounds alarming until the results are explained. The study shows that 18 percent report of the sexual coercion occurred by physical force. That, of course, is unacceptable, and French is to be commended for shining a light on it.

Seven percent of the boys say they were compelled after being given alcohol or drugs. Were all of the boys who fit this description incapacitated? If so, that, too, is unacceptable. If not, the finding is problematic.

Twenty-six percent describe unwanted seduction by sexual behaviors. This, in itself, is scarcely grounds for concluding that the boys were "victims" of sexual misconduct.

The most problematic aspect of the study is that a full 31 percent of the boys and say that their victimization was by verbal coercion.

We have previously explained here why "sexual coercion" -- shorthand to describe the boorish act of nagging for sex -- is not properly considered sexual misconduct. Since it is not sexual misconduct when young men practice it, it is not sexual misconduct when young women practice it. Read our explanation before assuming we are incorrect.  The movement to punish young men for "sexual coercion" on college campuses is a policy bordering on pathology, and that policy should not be embraced merely because the genders are switched.

Men and boys are victims of all manner of sexual and non-sexual abuse that is ignored because of their gender. There is enough legitimate male victimization to focus on without applauding a study that manufactures it from whole cloth. We would do well not to embrace a policy that has its roots in an extremist feminist tradition that aims to make innocent men criminals.