Examples from Thomas Mappes, “On Sexually Using Another Person”

Under “Coercion and Sexual Morality” (pp. 174 ff. in Mappes and Zembaty, 2002).

Threat or Offer? If a threat, then it is coercive.  If offer, is it a coercive offer? If it is a coercive offer, then it is coercive.  If it is coercive, it contravenes the voluntariness aspect of voluntary informed consent and thus fails to respect the autonomy of the other party.

Case 1. Mr. Supervisor makes a series of increasing less subtle sexual overtures to Ms. Employee. These advances are consistently and firmly rejected by Ms. Employee. Eventually, Mr. Supervisor makes it clear that the granting of “sexual favors” is a condition of her further employment.

Case 2. Ms. Debtor borrowed a substantial sum of money from Mr. Creditor, on the understanding that she would pay it back within one year. In the meantime, Ms. Debtor has become sexually attracted to Mr. Creditor, but he does not share her interest.  At the end of the one-year period, Mr. Creditor asks Ms. Debtor to return the money. She says she will be happy to return the money so long as he consents to sexual interaction with her.

Case 3. Mr. Theatergoer has two tickets to the most talked-about play of the season. He is introduced to a woman whom he find sexually attractive and who shares his interest in the theater. In the course of their conversation, she expresses disappointment that the play everyone is talking about is sold out; she would love to see it. At this point, Mr. Theatergoer suggests that she be his guest at the theater. “Oh, by the way,” he says, “I always expect sex from my dates.”

Case 4. Ms. Jetsetter is planning a trip to Europe. She has been trying for some time to develop a sexual relationship with a man who has shown little interest in her. She knows, however, that he has always wanted to go to Europe and that it only lack of money that has deterred him. Ms. Jetsetter proposes that he come along as her traveling companion, all expenses paid, on the express understanding that sex is part of the arrangement.


Case 5. Professor Highstatus tells Ms. Student that, though her work is such as to entitle her to a grade of B in the class, she will be assigned a D unless she consents to sexual interaction.

Case 6. Professor Highstatus tells Ms. Student that, though her work is such as to entitle her to a grade of B in the class, she will be assigned an A if she consents to sexual interaction.


Case 7. Ms. Starlet, a glamorous, wealthy, and highly successful model, wants nothing more that to become a movie superstar. Mr. Moviemogul, a famous producer, is very taken with Ms. Starlet’s beauty. He invites her to come to his office for a screen test. After the screen test, Mr. Moviemogul tells Ms. Starlet that he is prepared to make her a star, on the condition that she agree to sexual involvement with him.  Ms. Starlet finds Mr. Moviemogul personally repugnant; she is not at all sexually attracted to him. With great reluctance, she agrees to his proposal.


Case 8.  Mr. Troubled is a young widower who is raising his three children. He lives in a small town and believes that it is important for him to stay there so that his children continue to have the emotional support of other family members. But economic times are tough. Mr. Troubled has been laid off from his job and has not been able to find another. His unemployment benefits have ceased and his relatives are in no position to help him financially. Ms. Opportunistic lives in the same town. Since shortly after the death of Mr. Troubled’s wife, she h as consistently made sexual overtures in his direction. Mr. Troubled, for his part, does not care for Ms. Opportunistic and has made it clear to her that he is not interested in sexual involvement with her. She, however, is well aware of his present difficulties. To win his consent to a sexual affair, Ms. Opportunistic offers to make mortgage payments for Mr. Troubled on a continuing basis.