3 Pages

The More Things Change, the More They Remain the Same

This activity was inspired by a feminist theory of rape as a political crime against women. Susan Griffin’s essay, “Rape: The All-American Crime” (1977), remains a definitive statement of the feminist analysis of rape. “Rape is not an isolated act that can be rooted out from patriarchy without ending patriarchy itself” (Griffin 1977, p. 66). Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will, published in 1975, provided historical evidence to support her assertion that rape is an act of dominance over women, an integral part of patriarchal society. Women neither ask for nor can be blamed for rape. Although rape involves sex, she said, it is not a sex crime, but a crime of power and aggression by one sex against the other. Through rape or threat of rape, men control women: “Rape is not a crime of irrational, impulsive, uncontrollable lust, but is a deliberate, hostile, violent act of degradation and possession on the part of a would-be conqueror, designed to intimidate and inspire fear” (Brownmiller 1975, p. 391). For the first time, feminists began a successful drive to replace ancient conceptions of rape as a crime against the male-valued chastity of individual women with a theory of rape as a crime of violence against all women. Feminists organized to fight against this form of domination.