Heterosexual experiences of secondary school pupils in Ireland: sexual coercion in context

Cult Health Sex. 2008 Jun;10(5):479-93. doi: 10.1080/13691050801915184.


This paper reports on data from a wider study of young people's heterosexual experiences in Ireland, but focuses in particular on issues of sexual coercion. Data were gathered from 29 focus group interviews with 102 young women and 124 young men and were analysed using a qualitative research strategy. Drawing on concepts of social coercion and interpersonal coercion, we argue that both female and male participants reported a general sense of social coercion to lose their virginity by a certain age. However, narratives of interpersonal coercion were far stronger in the case of the young women compared with their male counterparts, while the young men reported a particular type of social coercion that propelled them to subscribe to conventional heterosexual male behaviour. We argue that while the distinction between social coercion and interpersonal coercion is far from watertight, it is a useful conceptual tool in identifying broad variations in women's and men's sexually coercive experiences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Courtship*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Ireland
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Social Perception*
  • Stereotyping
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires