The most commonly used statistics about sexual assault and American college women show that 25% of female college students will be sexually assaulted; U.C. Davis professor of communication Michael Motley believes that at least some unwanted sexual contact is due to misunderstanding on the part of men — which he calls "faulty male introspection" — and unintentionally vague statements on the part of women. Motley said in a press release, "When she says, 'It's getting late,' he may hear, 'So let's skip the preliminaries.'" Motley performed an experiment where he gave 30 female and 60 male Davis students a questionnaire asking them to interpret "16 common female resistance messages." And his results may surprise you.
If a woman says, I'm "seeing someone else," as a way to get a dude to stop going forward sexually, he could interpret that statement to mean:
- You want to go further but you want him to know that it doesn't mean that you're committed to him
- You want to go further but you want him to be discreet, so that the other guy doesn't find out
- You want to go further but you want him to realize, in case you end up "going together," that you may do this with someone else while you're seeing him
- You don't want to go further.
Those were all choices in the form that Motley gave his students. Some of the men were asked to choose what it would mean when they said "I'm seeing someone else," and the other half were asked what a woman would mean if she uttered the phrase. According to the press release, "The questionnaire study showed that men were accurate at interpreting direct resistance messages like 'Let's stop this.' But they were as apt to interpret 'Let's be friends' to mean 'keep going' as to mean 'stop.' And few of them would mean 'stop' if they were to deliver any of the indirect messages themselves." Motley thinks that women are more likely to use indirect messages because they don't want to anger or offend the men that they are dating. One of Motley's main conclusions is that women need to be as direct as possible when communicating sexual wants. We suggest using the time-honored "Get your fucking hands off me." It seems to relay the message pretty clearly!
Men, Women, Sex And Confusion [Los Angeles Times]
Why College Men May Hear 'Yes' When Women Mean 'No' [UC Davis]