No, Pressuring Someone Into Sex Isn't "Normal"

Photographed By Lauren Perlstein.
The results of a new survey on young people's sexual attitudes are out, and they're not pretty. Our Watch, an organization that fights violence against women, commissioned the survey of 604 people between the ages of 12 and 20, and their answers speak to larger trends.

While 25% of respondents called it "normal" for men to pressure women into sex, 60% reported that it is "up to the girl to make it very clear if she doesn’t want to have sex." Of male respondents, 10% admitted that they had posted "compromising" photos of female acquaintances online. What's more, a staggering 37% of all respondents stated that it's hard to respect an intoxicated woman, and 27% said that it's hard to respect a woman in "revealing clothing."

Victim-blaming manifested even more explicitly in the answers of the 10% who claimed that a woman under the influence or wearing revealing clothing is "at least partly responsible for unwanted sex." Yikes. These beliefs line up with what we know about sexual assault among youth: According to one study of nine schools from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, up to one in four college women is sexually assaulted at college (though most never report), and 34% of college women report having been sexually assaulted over their lives.

In a statement, Our Watch's CEO Mary Barry stressed that the organization's research highlights the urgent need for better sex ed, much earlier: "Universities are an important setting for primary prevention activity and provide an opportunity to give young people guidance and information about sex and respectful relationships," she said, "but it shouldn’t be the first time young people receive support to work through these issues."

Here's hoping that policymakers wake up to the reality that no one benefits when young people are denied comprehensive sex ed, including education on pleasure and respect.
This month, we're sharing steamy personal stories, exploring ways to have even better sex, and wading through the complicated dynamics that follow us into the bedroom. Here's to a very happy February. Check out more right here.

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