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Tuesday, July 27, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Study: Men, Too, Coerced Into Sex -- Survey By UW Prof Challenges Stereotype

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

A survey of fraternity and sorority members is challenging old ideas about sexual aggression among men and women in the Greek system.

The 1996 survey by Mary Larimer, a research assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington, shows men are more likely than women to have been pressured or coerced into sex, or to have had unwanted sex.

The survey of 165 men and 131 women at an undisclosed university showed:

-- Fourteen percent of the men and 8 percent of women said they had unwanted sex in the year before the survey.

-- Eight percent of the men and 6 percent of the women said they had been pressured into having sex.

-- Twenty-one percent of the men and 28 percent of the women said they had been subjected to one of five types of unwanted contact, like having sex with someone because of pressure or violence, or trying to have sex with someone after giving them alcohol or drugs.

-- Five percent of the women and less than 1 percent of the men said their partners used force (twisting arms or holding down) to try to have sex with them.

-- Seventeen percent of the women and 9 percent of the men said someone tried to have sex with them against their will after giving them alcohol or drugs.

-- Forty-eight percent of the women and 47 percent of the men said they got into sexual situations while drinking that they regretted afterward.

The percentage of young men reporting sexual coercion likely would have been much smaller if the subjects had spoken directly with researchers rather than filling out questionnaires anonymously, Larimer said, because of embarrassment and stereotypes.

The belief that men cannot be forced into sex "certainly has been an argument that has kept us from looking into this issue," Larimer said.

Societal gender roles also play a part, she said, contending several reports have reached similar conclusions since the mid-1980s, "but they never get much publicity."

Most criminal rape statutes define the crime in terms of female victims and male perpetrators, Larimer said, but in some states the legal definition has been modified to make clear that males can be victimized by females.

The researchers randomly selected 296 fraternity and sorority students from a larger, randomly chosen group. Most - 82 percent - were white, 13 percent were Asian and the remaining 5 percent were of other races.

The report was published in the current issue of Sex Roles, a scholarly journal. The findings are part of a larger study of alcohol abuse and prevention in the Greek system, and was funded by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.

Roberto Sanchez's phone message number is 206-464-8522. His e-mail address is rsanchez@seattletimes.com

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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