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Sexual scripts, sexual refusals and rape

Frith, Hannah (2009) Sexual scripts, sexual refusals and rape In: Rape: Challenging Contemporary Thinking. Willan Publishing, London, pp. 99-122. ISBN 9781843925200

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The construction of sexual violence between heterosexual partners as a problem of communication (a misunderstanding in which consent or non-consent is poorly communicated or inaccurately understood) has been at the heart of debates about the nature of sexual negotiation, what 'counts' as rape, and how to eradicate sexual violence. But womens' refusals are often not heard, ignored or overruled, and establishing women's right to refuse sexual activities (of any kind, with any one and under any circumstances) and to have these refusals recognized has been central to campaigns asserting that 'No Means No'. This chapter explores the 'problem' of sexual negotiation and communication—often simplistically characterized as saying 'yes' or 'no'—as represented in both academic and lay discourse. In lay discourse, women often report that they fail to say 'no' clearly or effectively, or that their behavior is misperceived as indicating sexual interest, while men report difficulty understanding women's communications about sex. The 'problem' of communication also underpins two of the most popular explanations for rape (especially acquaintance rape) in academic discourse—sexual script theory and miscommunication theory. Script theory asserts that culturally prescribed 'scripts' for sexual interactions ascribe the role of sexual initiator and pursuer to men and sexual gatekeeper to women. So, women are responsible for limiting and saying 'no' during sexual interactions which follow cultural patterns of activities in a preset order. Miscommunication theory suggests that 'acquaintance rape' results from poor communication between men and women, in which women fail to say no clearly and effectively while men fail to understand or act upon women's refusals. This chapter explores the interplay between lay explanations for difficulties in sexual negotiations and these academic theories. Drawing on discursive psychology and conversation analysis, the chapter highlights some of the limitations of sexual script and sexual miscommunication theories for understanding rape and sexual aggression, but also seeks to account for their prevalence in young heterosexuals' everyday talk about sexual interactions

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Editors :
Hovarth, Miranda
Brown, Jennifer
Date : 1 September 2009
Copyright Disclaimer : Copyright: The Editors and Contributors, 2009
Depositing User : James Marshall
Date Deposited : 07 Jul 2020 08:47
Last Modified : 07 Jul 2020 08:47

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