Constructing Masculinity in Response to Women’s Sexual Advances

Document Type


Publication Date


Originally Published In

Archives of Sexual Behavior

Volume Number


Issue Number


Page Numbers



Drawing on 20 in-depth interviews with men who reported unwanted sexual experiences with women as adults, this article addresses how masculinity informs their lived experiences of this type of contact. One of the main themes that emerged from this research was that participants constructed masculinity by engaging in sexual gatekeeping or setting limits on women's sexual advances. Whereas sexual gatekeeping has been perceived as a passive role for women, it may be entirely agentic for men. That is, sexual gatekeeping played a vital role in preserving the gender dichotomy that informed the traditional sexual script for our participants. Since it is consistent with masculinity to take a proactive role in heterosexual sex, a man's perceived sexual objectification by an initiative woman can be experienced as a violation. In order to regain their proactive role, male participants set limitations on women's sexual advances.