Sexuality as a Physical Force
A third metaphor describes sexuality as a physical force, a presence that is exerted on others. This conceptualization of sexuality is evident in such phrases as “she’ll knock you off your feet,” “she was giving off sexy vibes,” and “she blew him away.” This metaphor also can provide a basis for rape (Lakoff &. Johnson, 1987). According to this metaphor, women use their sexuality (i. e., by wearing sexy clothing and engaging in flirtatious behavior) to invoke sexual responses from men, which they then must inhibit. According to Lakoff and Johnson, men who report engaging in rape may perceive women’s overt expressions of their sexuality as a “physical force” to which they are unwillingly exposed and are justified in countering with a like sexual force (i. e., sexual aggression) to balance the potency of women’s sexuality. Research has suggested that this metaphor is important in defining nonconsensual sexual interactions. Greater endorsement of these cultural metaphors has been found in men who report engaging in sexually aggressive behaviors (Donat, 1991). This analogy, however, denies women’s sexual expression and promotes an adversarial view of sexual expression and retaliation.