Res Publica 11 (4):349-369 (2005)

Scott Anderson
University of British Columbia
Pressuring someone into having sex would seem to differ in significant ways from pressuring someone into investing in one’s business or buying an expensive bauble. In affirming this claim, I take issue with a recent essay by Sarah Conly (‘Seduction, Rape, and Coercion’, Ethics, October 2004), who thinks that pressuring into sex can be helpfully evaluated by analogy to these other instances of using pressure. Drawing upon work by Alan Wertheimer, the leading theorist of coercion, she argues that so long as pressuring does not amount to coercing someone into having sex, her consent to sex answers the important ethical questions about it. In this essay, I argue that to understand the real significance of pressuring into sex, we need to appeal to background considerations, especially the male-dominant gender hierarchy, which renders sexual pressuring different from its non-sexual analogues. Treating pressure to have sex like any other sort of interpersonal pressure obscures the role such sexual pressure might play in supporting gender hierarchy, and fails to explain why pressure by men against women is more problematic than pressure by women against men. I suggest that men pressuring women to have sex differs from the reverse case because of at least two factors: (1) gendered social institutions which add to the pressures against women, and (2) the greater likelihood that men, not women, will use violence if denied, and the lesser ability of women compared to men to resist such violence without harm.
Keywords coercion  gender hierarchy  gender oppression  pressure  rape  Sarah Conly  seduction  sex
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2006
DOI 10.1007/s11158-005-5762-z
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Seduction, Rape, and Coercion.Sarah Conly - 2004 - Ethics 115 (1):96-121.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Unjust Sex Vs. Rape.Ann J. Cahill - 2016 - Hypatia 31 (4):746-761.
Consent to Sexual Interactions.Japa Pallikkathayil - 2019 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 19 (2):107-127.
Sexual Consent and Lying About One’s Self.Jennifer Matey - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (2):380-400.
Feminist Perspectives on Rape.Rebecca Whisnant - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
1,995 ( #2,325 of 2,520,399 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
221 ( #2,239 of 2,520,399 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes