I don't know about you, but going home with someone after a date doesn't necessarily signify "having sex" to me. Instead, I'm one of those gullible dorks who actually believes going back to someone's place to "watch a show" could mean just that. Lucky for me, that's usually been the case whenever I've gone home with a guy. But unfortunately, that's not the case for a lot of women out there. A new study found that sex expectations between men and women are actually very different and offered some insight into why the decision to come home with a date can turn out to be an unpleasant one for many women.
The study was conducted by Confi, a digital health startup, and surveyed 1,200 people (from 18 to 25) on college campuses, and they found that almost half of men said they'd expect vaginal sex if they go home with someone after a party. Yes. They'd expect it. This is compared to only 31 percent of women who reported the same thing. As you can imagine, this gap in expectations can lead to a lot of misunderstandings, unpleasant experiences, and even dangerous situations. "There are not just differences by gender or social group, but every demographic shows a diverse range of expectations," Confi writes on their site. "This increases the likelihood that any pairing has mismatched expectations and misreads cues."
Another one of their findings is that almost a quarter of men (24 percent, to be exact) agree that “women usually have to be convinced to have sex.” Only 11 percent of women said the same. As you can imagine, this probably happens as a result of the fact that many of these men are often coming home, expecting to have sex, when the women they're with had no intention of doing that at all. Cue the convincing. And what these men likely don't understand is that consent should be completely voluntary. You should never continue persisting if someone doesn't express interest in having sex with you.
But unfortunately, this experience is all-too-familiar for a lot of women. Thirty-one percent of women reported in the study that they had given in to sexual encounters they didn't necessarily want to be part of because their partner "persistently tried to make moves even after [they] said ‘no,’”
Things got even darker, as the study found almost 30 percent of men discredit the sexual assault claims of women, asserting their belief that “many accusations of sexual assault are the result of women regretting sex after the fact,” according to Confi. As if that wasn't troubling enough, a smaller percentage of men (16 percent) agreed that "if both people are drunk, it cannot be sexual assault." Even more, a significant percentage of both men (60 percent) and women (49 percent) reported that they knew someone so desperate that they were "determined to have sex, no matter who the partner would be."
The biggest takeaway from this study is how vastly different the expectations of men and women are. "People were all over the board on expectations when going home together, making it more confusing," Rachel Hanebutt, a co-founder of Confi, told Teen Vogue. "There just isn’t a clear social code for this common scenario."
So how did we get here and what can we do to fix it? "These expectations come from mainstream TV and movies, porn, a culture where increasing your sexual count is viewed as a reputation factor. Inadequate sex and relationship education is a missed opportunity to reshape these expectations and help people talk about sex more broadly. Effective sex education would drastically reduce the amount of unwanted sex," Rachel continued. "Overcoming misaligned expectations means rewriting the stereotypical sexual script that is full of assumptions. If you’ve had sex coercively without consequence, you’ve confirmed your own expectation of how sex plays out; it’s a vicious cycle."
Let's use the findings of this study as another reminder that there is still plenty of progress to be made in terms of men and women getting on the same page about what does and does not constitute as an appropriate sexual encounter. Educate yourself, ask questions, and know that voluntary, consensual sex is the only kind of sex you should be having.
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