Sexual Coercion

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Sexual coercion is a term that refers to sexual activity that is done under pressure, blackmail, deceit, or manipulation. Its purpose is making the victim agree (apparently in a free manner) to perform acts that they actually don’t want to perform.

Let’s take a moment to digest this definition. Blackmail is easy to identify because it responds to a formula: “If you don’t do this (which I want, but you don’t), I’ll do this (which will harm you in one way or another).” Manipulation and pressure, unfortunately, are more subtle. How can we distinguish manipulation from an honest negotiation? In the end, it is a matter of intuition. This is because there is no clear definition of the frontier between one and the other.

The main difference between consent and coercion is that, whereas consent is given freely, coercion leads to a decision that is not free, even if it may look like it at first. A person might not even realize the coercion exercised upon them. That’s why participants in alternative practices should always remain alert.

Coercion implies the transgression of someone’s limits. Remember, there are hard limits and soft limits. Whereas you may be willing to negotiate soft limits, hard limits are unnegotiable. Moreover, coercion frequently results in either physical or emotional harm. You might feel tired after a bondage scene, and that’s normal. But there’s a huge difference between tired and hurt. So, pay attention to how you feel, and that may give you a clue as to whether you’re dealing with consent or with coercion.

In the end, consent leads to a mutual act. On the other hand, coercion means that someone ultimately “wins”—that  they impose their will upon others. And that’s not a good foundation for establishing a partner’s relationship.

So, pay attention and don’t let anyone force sexual coercion on you, and pulling you into something you don’t want to do.

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