Daily Archives: December 16, 2005

Girls gone wild?

Some startling results from a Hillsborough County, Florida survey of about 5,000 randomly selected middle-school and high school students:

More male high school students – 16 percent – reported being physically hurt by their significant others than female students, at 11.8 percent.

More than 9 percent of male and nearly 12 percent of female high school students said they were physically forced to have sex.

“I know that is happening, because my son constantly gets letters from girls who want to do sexual things to him,” said Paula Thomas, mother of five children ages 9 to 16. “It starts in the sixth or seventh grade.”

(Hat tip: Dr. Helen.)

The findings on dating violence contradict a lot of received wisdom, and are in line with findings from previous studies. When will dating violence prevention curricula reflect this reality?

As for the findings on sexual aggression: I’m not questioning the fact that males can sometimes be sexually forced by females. But when a study finds that 9% of high school boys (only slightly lower than the figure for girls) have been “physically forced” to have sex, I have to wonder how this study defines “physically forced.” (Surely gay male students cann’t account for more than a fraction of this figure.) Are we talking about being physically overpowered or restrained, or threatened with violence, or being otherwise placed in a situation where they cannot avoid sex without some risk of harm? Or one person making persistent but non-forcible, non-threatening physical advances, and the other giving in for lack of assertiveness? There’s a big difference between being forced into sex and being pressured into sex, and it’s unfortunate that a lot of the rhetoric on date rape has blurred that line (with the ironic result, it seems, of branding many teenage girls as date rapists).

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