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Resisting simple dichotomies: Critiquing narratives of victims,perpetrators, and harm in Feminist theories of rape.

Brenner, Alletta
June 4, 2015

Source: (2013) Harvard Journal of Law and Gender. 36:503-568.

Liberal and radical feminist approaches to rape and rape law reform
often display a victim/perpetrator framework. This framework
presupposes perpetrator agency and empowerment, victim
passivity and disempowerment, and that the harm of rape, which is
always serious, fiows only from the perpetrator to victim. Examining
how this victim/perpetrator framework operates in two paradigmatic
examples of acquaintance rape on college campuses, this
Note contends that the victim/perpetrator framework may actually
be damaging to the feminist rape reform project because it relies
on an overly simplistic account of the operation of power in sexual
violence that fails to consider the way that sex and gender are
performative, denies the possibility of a multiplicity of experiences
and perspectives within individual incidents of rape, and participates
in the disempowerment and traumatization of rape victims.
As feminists, we should seek to resist such simple dichotomies.
This Note concludes by proposing one possibility: an intersectional
model of rape. The emerging use of restorative justice in
some rape cases offers one example of what an intersectional
model of rape might look like in practice. (author’s abstract)


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