Against Our Will: Sexual Trauma in American Art Since 1970

Against Our Will: Sexual Trauma in American Art Since 1970

by Vivien Green Fryd


Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Tuesday, December 10


As part of the feminist movement of the 1970s, female artists began consciously using their works to challenge social conceptions and the legal definitions of rape and incest and to shift the dominant narrative of violence against women. In this dynamic book, Vivien Green Fryd charts this decades-long radical intervention through an art-historical lens.

Fryd shows how American artists such as Suzanne Lacy, Leslie Labowitz, Faith Ringgold, Judy Chicago, and Kara Walker insisted on ending the silence surrounding sexual violence and helped construct an anti-rape, anti-incest counternarrative that remains vibrant today. She looks at how second-wave feminist artists established and reiterated the importance of addressing sexual violence against women and how their successors in the third wave then framed their works within that visual and rhetorical tradition. Throughout, Fryd highlights specific themes—rape and incest against white and black female bodies, rape against white and black male bodies, rape and pornography—that intersect with other challenges to and critiques of the sociocultural and political patriarchy from the 1970s through the present day.

Featuring dozens of illustrative works and written by an art historian who is a scholar of PTSD and herself a survivor, this groundbreaking and timely project explores sexual violence as a discrete subject of American art with open eyes and unflinching analysis. Against Our Will challenges the reader to serve as witness to the trauma in much the same way as the works Fryd studies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780271082066
Publisher: Penn State University Press
Publication date: 02/22/2019
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.09(d)

About the Author

Vivien Green Fryd is Professor of Art History at Vanderbilt University and the author of Art and Empire: The Politics of Ethnicity in the United States Capitol, 1815–1860 and Art and the Crisis of Marriage: Edward Hopper and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations



Chapter 1 Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz: Performing the Anti-rape Cycle in the 1970s

Chapter 2 Performing the Anti-incest Cycle in the Los Angeles Woman’s Building, 1977–1985

Chapter 3 Faith Ringgold: Quilting the Anti-rape and Anti-incest Cycle, 1972–1986

Chapter 4 Recirculating the Anti-rape and Anti-incest Cycle in Exhibitions, 1980–1993

Chapter 5 Judy Chicago and Donald Woodman: The Anti-rape and Anti-incest Cycle, 2001–2006

Chapter 6 Kara Walker: Creating a Third-Wave Anti-rape and Antiincest Cycle in Silhouettes, Videos, and Sculpture Since 1994

Chapter 7 Mapping and Chronicling the Anti-rape and Anti-incest Cycle into the Twenty-First Century




Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews