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Rape: Sex, Violence, History
     

Rape: Sex, Violence, History

by Joanna Bourke
 

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In a groundbreaking investigation, this prize-winning author takes rape out of the academic ghettos. Bourke searches for the truth beyond popular misconceptions, investigating the history of sexual aggression and the idea of rape as a social construct with the ultimate hope for a world free of unwanted sexual violence.

Overview

In a groundbreaking investigation, this prize-winning author takes rape out of the academic ghettos. Bourke searches for the truth beyond popular misconceptions, investigating the history of sexual aggression and the idea of rape as a social construct with the ultimate hope for a world free of unwanted sexual violence.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

One in every eight Hollywood movies features "a rape scene," writes Bourke in the first chapter of this groundbreaking study of sexual violence. While much has been written about rape, notably Susan Brownmiller's pioneering 1975 Against Our Will, it has almost always focused on female victims/survivors. Bourke boldly focuses her study on the rapist: "Why do some people set out to sexually humiliate and torture others?" Bourke (An Intimate History of Killing), a professor of history at Birkbeck College in London, effectively synthesizes an enormous amount of material-from sentencing rates for rape to historical records-across a wide range of topics: the history of laws relating to sexual psychopathology in the United States and Britain; how military culture influences discussions of sexual assault; the legal and cultural differences between indecent exposure and exhibitionism. Bourke delineates the effect of popular culture on the public discourse about rape-including the politics of blaming popular culture for the sexual abuses at Abu Ghraib-and adds significantly to that discussion. In her final chapter, Bourke radically revises aspects of contemporary feminist thought. In this provocative, well-argued exploration, she constructs a theory of sexual violence with an emphasis on female bodily integrity, yet does not fall into easy gender categorization such as accusing all men of sexual aggression. (Nov.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Dense, scholarly examination of the nature of rape as it has been experienced and perceived in the United States, Great Britain and Australia from the mid 19th century to the present. Bourke (History/Birkbeck College, Univ. of London; An Intimate History of Killing: Face-to-Face Killing in Twentieth-Century Warfare, 1999, etc.) focuses on rapists and what drives them. She exposes the myths that have surrounded the act, its perpetrators and its victims. African-American men, other minorities, immigrants, adolescent "thugs" and the poor have been stigmatized, she writes, while white professional men and middle-class husbands have been let off the hook. Bourke rejects the biological explanations of evolutionary psychologists who trace sexual violence back to our distant ancestors, finding more convincing the claim by feminists and social theorists that societal forces create men who sexually abuse others. She takes a critical look at the writings of criminologists, sociologists and psychiatrists who have studied the motives and behavior of sexually violent offenders, analyzing the shortcomings of the various methods of treatment and punishment they have advocated, from lobotomy and castration to aversion therapy and psychiatric treatment. She also discusses female abusers, psychopaths, exhibitionists and such potentially dangerous environments as prisons, the military and the home. Bourke presents data demonstrating that few rapes are reported, fewer still are taken seriously by the police and of the rapists who are charged, only a small number are convicted. Rape shield laws, she reports, have not been especially effective. While legal reform is needed, she believes it's more important tochange the specific political, economic and cultural environments that give rise to sexual violence. Although Bourke's prose can be off-putting ("feminist functionalism," "etiological resonance," "narrativizing practices"), her scholarship is impressive. Not everyone will agree with her analysis, but she has succeeded in demystifying rape. Provocative and challenging.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582434667
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
06/30/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
576
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.60(d)

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