Rape, Consent, & Culture
Updated: Feb 3, 2020
This course explores how sexual and gendered violence is symbolically negotiated in public culture. We will examine how sexual violence and consent are framed in legal, political, educational, mediated, and cultural contexts. We will survey the intersectional relationships between race, gender, sexuality, nation, age, ability, and class as they relate to sexual and gendered violence. Finally, we will consider the ways that the public framing of sexual violence impacts both cultural views about rape, and in turn, how social institutions (such as schools, the government, religious bodies, or the criminal legal system) attempt to stop sexual and gendered violence.
By the end of this course, students should be able to:
Demonstrate an ability to assimilate readings from class and to write in a manner that incorporates the readings.
Demonstrate an ability to use communication concepts to analyze human behavior and to apply those concepts to improve social and professional life.
Demonstrate an ability to critically engage established norms and expectations of sex, gender, and sexuality.
Become a more effective critical thinker and consumer of information.
Demonstrate an understanding of the historical, cultural, and philosophical complexity that supports sophisticated discourse.
TRIGGER WARNING & CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT
This class engages (as one might expect) difficult often deeply personal and traumatizing issues. We will be approaching all material, topics, and content from an academic perspective and for the purpose of understanding the relationship between sexual violence and communication. It is not easy to talk about sexual violence, and it shouldn’t be. If you are experiencing trauma-related responses to content or conversation, please take care of yourself.
I am going to encourage you to engage with ideas, scenarios, or concepts that may make you uncomfortable or elicit a highly emotional response. Make sure this is something you are comfortable with. Just because we watch or read something, should also not reflect that I am promoting it or that I agree with it. Finally, if you are uncomfortable engaging in adult related or sexual content for the purpose of academic debate and conversation, this may not be the class for you.
The success of this course depends on the interactions generated between all of us. I do expect you to participate actively in class, share your ideas and opinions, and comment on and assess those of your fellow classmates. However, I do demand that everyone treat each other with respect. Ridicule or disrespect of any sort will not be tolerated.
Critical Presentation (150 points) Each member of the class will partner with another member of the class to present a thesis-driven critical presentation that engages a communication artifact that is related to or about sexual assault and consent. Must follow specific format and requirements outlined in the assignment sheet. Each group will present their results in a 15-minute presentation and facilitate a 15-minute dialogue and discussion with the class. You will be graded on both your own presentation and your participation in the dialogues facilitated by your classmates. Attendance is mandatory on all days. Within groups, group members do not always participate equally in the preparation of group projects; however, all group members share equally in the final grade. To assess individual contributions to the group project, each student will be asked to rate the extent to which each of his or her group members contributed to the semester project. The average of the ratings you receive from members of your group, coupled with my own evaluation of your contribution, will be factored into your final assignment grade.
Exams (2 @ 150 points each = 300 points total) There will be two exams in this course. They are not comprehensive. They will be essay-based examinations and you will receive a list of the possible concepts and questions ahead of time.
Engagement (50 points) This class relies on your thorough participation and critical engagement with text and exercise materials. I expect you to come to class having completed the readings for that unit. Students are expected to attend all lectures and to complete all required readings. Material will be presented in the lecture that is not in the readings and will be addressed in the exams. The engagement grade is composed of student contributions to class discussions and various engagement assignments given throughout the semester. In addition, you will be graded on in-class assignments and discussions for which you will lose credit if you are not present.
COURSE SCHEDULE & READINGS
Unit 1: Rape Culture & Myths about Rape
Melanie Ehrenkranz. “’Dead or Alive Xtreme 3’ lets you sexually assault a woman in virtual reality.” Mic. August 29, 2016.
Alanna Vagianos, “High school boys Make ‘Rape’ Joke at Cancer Awareness football game.” Huffington Post. September 20, 2017.
Dillon Kato, “Temptress?’ Defense attorney questions 13-year-old victim’s role in Missoula sex assault.” Missoulian. September 11, 2017.
Unit 2: Reading Violence as Gendered
María Lugones, “Toward a Decolonial Feminism.” Hypatia, vol. 25, no. 4, 2010, pp. 742-759.
C. J. Pascoe and Jocelyn A. Hollander, “Good Guys Don’t Rape: Gender, Domination, and Mobilizing Rape,” Gender & Society, vol. 30, no. 1 (2016), pp. 67–79.
Jane F. Gilgun and Laura McLeod, “Gendering Violence.” Studies in Symbolic Interaction 22 (1999): 167-193.
Unit 3: A History of Sexual Violence in the U.S.
Excerpt from: Sharon Block, Rape and Sexual Power in Early America (University of North Carolina Press, 2006).
Excerpt from: Estelle Freedman, Redefining Rape: Sexual Violence in the Era of Suffrage and Segregation (Harvard University Press, 2013).
Unit 4: Sexual Violence and Racism in the U.S.
Angela Davis “Rape, Racism, and the Myth of the Black Rapist,” in Women, Race, and Class (Vintage, 1983).
Angela Davis, “We Do Not Consent: Violence Against Women in a Racist Society,” in Women, Culture, and Politics (Vintage, 1990)
Unit 5: Defining Sexual Violence in Legal Contexts in the U.S.
Carol E. Tracy et al., “Rape and Sexual Assault in the Legal System,” Women’s Law Project (2012).
Kimberly Lawson, “Men Legally Allowed to Finish Sex even if Woman Revokes Consent, NC Law States.” Broadly. June 22, 2017.
Lily Rothman. “When Spousal Rape First Become a Crime in the U.S.” Time Magazine. July 28, 2015.
Cristina Corbin. “In 7 US States, rape victims can be legally forced to share custody of their children with their rapist fathers.” Foxnews.com. April 21, 2017.
Unit 6: Rhetorics of Rape Prevention
Rachel Hall. “’It Can Happen to You’: Rape Prevention in the Age of Risk Management.” Hypatia 19/3 (2004): 1-19.
Emily Thuma, “Lessons in Self-Defense: Gender Violence, Racial Criminalization, and Anticarceral Feminism,” WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, vol. 43, nos. 3–4 (fall/winter 2015).
KC Clements, “#IAmOneOfThem: Why We Need to represent Trans People in Sexual Assault Advocacy.” The Huffington Post. April 7, 2017.
Unit 7: Victimhood & Rhetorics of Responsibility
Watch Audrie & Daisy
George Will, “Colleges become the victims of progressivism.” The Washington Post. June 6, 2014.
Jessica Valenti, “The only privilege afforded to campus rape victims is actually surviving.” The Guardian. June 10, 2014.
Katie, J.M. Baker. “Here is the Powerful Letter the Stanford Victim Read Aloud to Her Attacker.” BuzzfeedNews.com. June 3, 2016.
Unit 8: Statistics, Expertise, & Struggle to Represent Rape in Numbers
Lara Stemple & Illan Meyer, “The Sexual Victimization of Men in America: New Data Challenge Old Assumptions.” The American Journal of Public Health 104/6 (2014): 19-26.
Alia Wong, “Why the Prevalence of Campus Sexual Assault is So Hard to Quantify.” The Atlantic. January 26, 2016.
Caroline Kitchens. “The Rape ‘Epidemic’ Doesn’t Actually Exist.” U.S. News & World Report. October 24, 2013.
Corey Rayburn Yung. “How to Lie with Rape Statistics: Americans Hidden Rape Crisis.” Iowa Law Review 99 (2014): 1197-1256.
Unit 9: It’s Not Just Happening to Cis Women
Hanna Rosin, “When Men are Raped.” Slate. April 29, 2014.
Daniel Engber, “The Strange Case of Anna Stubblefield.” The New York Times. Ocotber 20, 2015.
Rus Ervin Funk, “Queer Men and Sexual Assault: What Being Raped Says about Being a Man” Gendered Outcasts and Sexual Outlaws: Sexual Oppression and Gender Hierarchies in Queer Men's Lives, edited by Chris Kendall and Wayne Martino (Harrington Park Press, 2006).
Philip Rumney, “Gay Male Rape Victims: Law Enforcement, Social Attitudes and Barriers to Recognition,” International Journal of Human Rights, 13/2 (2009).
Doug Meyer, “Gendered Views of Sexual Assault, Physical Violence, and Verbal Abuse,” Violence against Queer People: Race, Class, Gender, and the Persistence of Anti-LGBT Discrimination. (Rutgers University Press, 2015).
Unit 10: Survivors Representing Sexual Violence
Lisa Factora-Borchers, ed., Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence (AK Press, 2014).
Excerpt from Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Ballantine, 1969).
Frida Kahlo, A Few Small Nips (painting, 1935)
Käthe Kollwitz, Raped (etching, 1907)
Kara Walker, My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love (exhibition, 2007)
Sue Williams, Irresistible (sculpture, 1992)
Ariella Azoulay, “Has Anyone Ever Seen a Photograph of a Rape?” in The Civil Contract of Photography (MIT Press, 2008)
Unit 11: Sexual Violence on College Campuses
Watch The Hunting Ground
Michelle Anderson, “Campus Sexual Assault Adjudication and Resistance to reform.” Yale Law Review. May 1, 2016.
Elizabeth A. Armstrong, Laura Hamilton, and Brian Sweeney, “Sexual Assault on Campus: A Multilevel, Integrative Approach to Party Rape,” Social Problems, vol. 53, no. 4 (2006), pp. 483–99.
A. Ayres Boswell and Joan Z. Spade, “Fraternities and Collegiate Rape Culture: Why Are Some Fraternities More Dangerous Places for Women?” Gender & Society, vol. 10, no.2 (1996), pp. 133–47.
Unit 12: Sexual Violence and Sports
Dave Zirin, “Steubenville and Challenging Rape Culture in Sports,” The Nation, March 13, 2013.
Dave Zirin, “How Jock Culture Supports Rape Culture, From Maryville to Steubenville,” The Nation, October 25, 2013.
DeAndry Levy, “Man Up,” The Players™ Tribune, April 27, 2016. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bdavidridpath/2016/09/15/the-attitude-toward-sexual-and-athlete-violence-in-college-sports-must-change/#2b0f43ab5eaf
Unit 13: Militarization & Rape
Watch The Invisible War
Aryn Baker. “War and Rape.” Time Magazine 187/14 (April 18, 2016): 36-41.
Nick Turse, “Rape was rampant during the Vietnam war. Why doesn’t US history remember this?” Mother Jones. March 19, 2013.
Dean Spade & Craig Willse. “Sex, Gender, & War in an Age of Multicultural Imperialism.” QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking 1/1 (2014): 5-29.
Unit 14: Strategies for Changing Culture
Patrick McGann, “It’s on Us: Healthy Masculinity and Sexual Assault Prevention.” Sojourners. March 20, 2015.
David Jacobson, “A Coach’s Role in Preventing Sexual Assault.” Huffington Post. April 18, 2017.
Lux Alptraum, “The problem with how men perceive rape.” Splinter. August 26, 2016.
Survivors Eradicating Rape Culture. http://eradicaterape.org
Unit 15: Strategies for Changing Laws
Excerpt from: Kristin Bumiller, In an Abusive State: How Neoliberalism Appropriated the Feminist Movement against Sexual Violence (Duke University Press, 2008).