Framing the Rape Victim: Gender and Agency Reconsidered

By Carine M. Mardorossian | Go to book overview

2 • RAPE AND VICTIMOLOGY
IN FEMINIST THEORY

In the late sixties and seventies, the second wave of the women’s movement became the site of emergence of a pro-victim approach to rape in public policy.1 Specifically, the second wavers worked to undermine the dualistic representations of victimization and agency that informed discourses of rape and challenged the diametrically opposed options of “innocent” sexual victim and rational (and hence “guilty”) sexual agent that were traditionally offered women with regard to sexual subjectivity. The second wavers were instrumental in exposing this configuration as an extension of what they called “rape culture.” In the same way that queer politics worked to turn “normal” into just one among many other forms of “performing queerness,” they reclaimed victimization and oppression as terms that should be yoked to activism and self-empowerment rather than to pity and passivity. In fact, second-wave feminists proclaimed women’s status as victims of patriarchal oppression in order to bring about social change.

Today, in stark contrast to this appropriation of “oppression” and its concomitant “victimization” as instruments of social transformation, the very act of identifying people as “victims” is ironically perceived as part of their problem. It is seen as a speech act with negative discursive and material ramifications that keeps its referents in suspended helplessness while freezing unwanted social relations in time. Calling people “victims” is often seen as a willful misrecognition of people’s power of self-determination, as an ideological instrument of subordination that encourages them to remain stuck and conceals their ability to change the unfortunate circumstances of their lives. Phrases such as “antivictim” feminism, also known as “neo,” “post,” “dissident,” or “post-ideological” feminism, permeate the airwaves, contending that women need to stop focusing on oppression and start enacting their own power. In an effort to debunk what is

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Framing the Rape Victim: Gender and Agency Reconsidered
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1- Framing the Victim 24
  • 2- Rape and Victimology - In Feminist Theory 41
  • 3- "Birth Rape" - Laboring Women, Coaching Men, and Natural Childbirth in the Hospital Setting 68
  • 4- Prison Rape, Masculinity - And the Missed Alliances of Hollywood Cinema 90
  • 5- Rape by Proxy in - Contemporary Diasporic Women’s Fiction 112
  • Conclusion 129
  • Notes 137
  • Works Cited 147
  • Index 161
  • About the Author 165
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