Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1988. Vol. 54, No. 5,872-879 Charlene L. Muehlenhard and Lisa C. Hollabaugh
There is a common belief that many women offer token resistance to sex: that they say no to sex even when they mean yes and that their protests are not to be taken seriously. A typical scenario in pornography, movies, and jokes portrays a woman who refuses a man's sexual advances and who subsequently becomes highly sexually aroused when he ignores her protests.
Although token resistance may be a rational response to the double standard, it is most likely not without its negative consequences. It discourages honest communication. It makes women appear manipulative and probably causes women to regard themselves as manipulative, a characteristic that is generally held in low esteem. It could cause women to miss out on sexual relationships with men who believe their refusals. It perpetuates restrictive gender roles for women and places the burden of being the aggressor on men. It probably also encourages men to ignore women's refusals. If a man encounters a women who says no and he ignores her protests and finds that she is indeed willing to engage in sex, his belief that women's refusals are not to be taken seriously will be strengthened.
Our study found that a substantial number of women engaged in token resistance to sex. We emphasize that this does not mean that men can safely ignore women's refusals. Women who engaged in token resistance for game-playing reasons—wanting to get their partner more aroused by making him wait, wanting him to beg or talk her into it, and wanting him to be more physically aggressive—seemed to endorse a forceful approach to sexuality. Their acceptance of male dominance seemed to be specific to physical force in sexual situations.