Coercion

I’m not sure where I am going with this post. The US is changing rapidly as women come forward to say that they’ve been molested. Some of these incidents have been recent and some have taken place in the past.

I have never been raped but I have been coerced into having sex, when I didn’t really want to, by both men and women. The corollary is also true: I have never raped anyone, however I have coerced women and men into having sex with me when they were hesitant.

Hitting my teen years in the 1960s, it was still common for teen girls and boys to play the Coaxing Game: Start by kissing, groping over clothes, sneaking hands under clothes, etc. Sometimes I felt pressured to go further than I wanted, but it was all part of the game and was very exciting and slightly naughty. I was lucky that I was never forced to go beyond my “this is too much” point.

And then the Summer of Love happened and everyone was screwing everyone. The Pill was in common use by then and STIs were practically unheard of. As the century progressed, it was pretty common where I lived to have lots of sex with lots of people, both male and female. Sex was good and healthy, gay rights were coming to the forefront and non-monogamy was venturing out of the closet.

If we were drunk or hungover and she didn’t want sex, I knew how to manipulate her. If he was hesitant because his wife might find out, I knew of places for quickies. Looking back now is unsettling, and doesn’t deserve a pardon, but it was still part of the Coaxing Game. I’ll venture to say that many of us either gave in to coercion or we coerced others.

This leaves us with some difficult questions today. Do we judge older events by new standards? Is forcing someone to give you a blowjob as bad as putting an arm around your waist without asking first, or as bad as commenting how great you look in those tight pants? Where should the lines be drawn?

To those I have harmed along the way, I am truly sorry. After being sexually active for 50 years, I am happy to bid goodbye to the Coaxing Game and instead welcome new patterns of authentic communication. And that’s what it’s all about: learning better ways to be human.