Sexual violence has become a topic of intense media scrutiny, thanks to the bravery of survivors coming forward to tell their stories. But, unfortunately, mainstream public spheres too often echo reports in a way that inhibits proper understanding of its causes, placing too much emphasis on individual responsibility or blaming minority cultures.
In this powerful and original book, Linda Martín Alcoff aims to correct the misleading language of public debate about rape and sexual violence by showing how complex our experiences of sexual violation can be. Although it is survivors who have galvanized movements like #MeToo, when their words enter the public arena they can be manipulated or interpreted in a way that damages their effectiveness. Rather than assuming that all experiences of sexual violence are universal, we need to be more sensitive to the local and personal contexts – who is speaking and in what circumstances – that affect how activists’ and survivors’ protests will be received and understood.
Alcoff has written a book that will revolutionize the way we think about rape, finally putting the survivor center stage.
- Introduction: Rape after Foucault
- 1. Global Resistance: A New Agenda for Theory
- 2. The Thorny Question of Experience
- 3. Norming Sexual Practices
- 4. Sexual Subjectivity
- 5. “Consent”, “Victim”, “Honor”
- 6. Speaking As (with Laura Gray-Rosendale)
- 7. The Problem of Speaking for Myself
- Conclusion: Standing in the Intersection
“Alcoff’s groundbreaking book draws on the author’s decades of experience as a scholar, an activist, and a survivor. Her nuanced and richly informed work recognizes that violence is shaped by the ways in which we talk about it and yet that that it cannot be talked away. Alcoff’s account attends both to the phenomenological irreducibility of sexual violence and to the variety of ways in which it is conceptualized across the world. She argues that different understandings of violence not only affect the ways in which we think about victims and survivors; they also shape the possibilities for advocacy and resistance.”
Alison M. Jaggar, University of Colorado at Boulder
“Linda Alcoff insists upon the need for — and then provides — a philosophical analysis of sexual violation that refuses to shy away from its political and social complexity. From her rejection of sexual libertarianism to her description of the ways in which sexual violence thwarts victims’ ability to contribute substantially to their own sexual becoming, Alcoff’s writing is as lucid as it is insightful. A major and timely contribution to the theoretical literature on a pressing social problem.”
Ann Cahill, Elon University
"Alcoff's work is consistently insightful, clearly written, and well argued. She bravely tackles a number of contemporary challenges to feminist philosophy, including attacks on the epistemic authority of sexual assault victims, worries about making normative judgments about sex, difficulties with defining the concept of rape, and the political dangers of public discourse. ... The best book I have read in several years."
Debra L. Jackson, California State University, Bakersfield