The portrayal of sexual coercion in popular media

The Portrayal of Sexual Coercion in Popular Media

Sexual coercion is a serious issue in society today. It is defined as the use of non-physical strategies to pressure someone into unwanted sexual activity. It is a form of sexual violence and is a major violation of the victim’s trust, autonomy, and safety. Despite its obvious severity, it is often portrayed in popular media in a flippant or even comedic fashion. It is rarely taken seriously or used as a platform to open discussion about the serious repercussions that can occur as a result of such actions.

How Sexual Coercion Is Portrayed in Media

When sexual coercion is depicted in popular media, characters often resort to manipulative tactics in order to gain sexual favours from unwilling partners. Some examples of these tactics include:

  • Shaming – using guilt to make someone feel bad for “saying no”.
  • Harassment – using threats, insults or repetitive advances to pressure someone into sexual activity.
  • Grooming – through the use of verbal or other physical cues, making someone feel as if they owe them something.

These behaviours are often portrayed in popular media as normal, romantic gestures or as tactics that a person can use to “persuade” someone into engaging in sexual activity. This encourages the viewer to view these behaviours as acceptable, even though in reality they constitute as sexual assault or rape.

The Impact of Misrepresentation in Media

The misrepresentation of sexual coercion in popular media can have a damaging effect on society. It can encourage viewers to normalise, accept and even engage in coercive tactics in their own relationships. This can lead to a culture of consent denial and victim blaming, where victims of sexual assault are blamed for the actions of their attacker. It also perpetuates the idea that sexual assault is a trivial, everyday occurrence, rather than a serious violation that carries emotional and physical repercussions.


It is important that we strive to depict sexual coercion in popular media in a thoughtful, realistic and respectful manner. We must create discussion around it and make it clear that such activities are never acceptable. It is our responsibility to protect victims of sexual violence and to ensure that they receive the support they need in order to move forward and heal.

Only by tackling our toxic social norms and by accurately representing sexual coercion in popular media, can we create a world that is safe, equitable, and respectful for all.

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