Getting sex by saying 'If you don't have sex with me I will find someone who will' = rape or sexual assault?

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

[UPDATE: Clark University has removed the definition from its site, and reports that the definition was "not current Clark policy," though it had still been present at the Dean of Students office's web site,; I've changed the link below to point to the Internet Archive version of the page.]

From the Clark University Dean of Students office:

A Definition of Rape, Sexual Assault and Related Terms

Rape / Sexual Assault

Although the legal definition of rape varies from state to state, rape is generally defined as forced or nonconsensual sexual contact.

Rape and/or sexual assault is forced, manipulated, or coerced sexual contact by a stranger, friend or acquaintance…. A person is forced into sexual contact through verbal coercion, threats, physical restraint, and/or physical violence. Consent is not given….


Coercion is the use of emotional manipulation to persuade someone to something they may not want to do—like being sexual or performing certain sexual acts. Examples of some coercive statements include: "If you love me you would have sex with me .", "If you don't have sex with me I will find someone who will.", and "I'm not sure I can be with someone who doesn't want to have sex with me." Coercive statements are often part of many campus acquaintance rapes. Being coerced into having sex or performing sexual acts is not consenting to having sex and is considered rape/sexual assault.


Consent is clear permission between intimate partners that what they are doing is okay and safe. To consent to something—like being sexual—means you confidently agree to do it based on your own free will without any influence or pressure.

So saying "If you don't have sex with me I will find someone who will" is "coercion," and thus means that any resulting sex is not consensual. This means that getting sex that way is "rape and/or sexual assault" (because it's "coerced sexual contact"), and in particular may well be "acquaintance rape."

Words fail me—though they apparently failed the Clark University Dean of Students office as well.

Thanks to Amy Alkon (Advice Goddess Blog) for the pointer.