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Token Resistance To Sex

Charlene L. Muehlenhard, Carie S. Rodgers

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According to the traditional sexual script, women—but not men—engage in token resistance to sex, refusing when they actually intend to engage in sex. Several studies have found that over a third of the college women sampled reported refusing sexual intercourse when they intended to engage in it. We asked 65 women and 64 men to write narratives describing their experiences conforming to the definition of token resistance used in previous studies. As in previous research, both women and men reported engaging in token resistance. However, most respondents apparently misunderstood the definition because they wrote narratives that did not meet this definition. These results refute the stereotype that most women—and only women—engage in token resistance to sex. Furthermore, these results cast doubt on prevalence data reported in previous studies. Results indicate that the overwhelming majority of women and men who say “no” to sex actually mean no.