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August 9, 2012

"Engendering Rape"

The title of this post is the title of this new article on SSRN discussing prison rape policies and reform efforts. Here is the abstract:

This article highlights a systematic bias in the academic, correctional, and human rights discourse that constitutes the basis for prison rape policy reform. This discourse focuses almost exclusively on sexual abuse perpetrated by men: sexual abuse of male prisoners by fellow inmates, and sexual abuse of women prisoners by male staff. But since 2007, survey and correctional data have indicated that the main perpetrators of prison sexual abuse seem to be women. In men’s facilities, inmates report much more sexual victimization by female staff than by male inmates; in women’s facilities, inmates report much higher rates of sexual abuse by fellow inmates than by male or female staff. These findings contravene conventional gender expectations, and are barely acknowledged in contemporary prison rape discourse, leading to policy decisions that are too sanguine about the likelihood of female-perpetrated sexual victimization.

The selective blindness of prison rape discourse to counterstereotypical forms of abuse illuminates a pattern of reasoning I describe as “stereotype reconciliation,” an unintentional interpretive trend by which surprising, counterstereotypical facts are reconciled with conventional gender expectations. The authors of prison rape discourse tend to ignore these counterstereotypical facts or to invoke alternative stereotypes, such as heterosexist notions of romance or racialized rape tropes, in ways that tend to rationalize their neglect of counterstereotypical forms of abuse and reconcile those abuses with conventional expectations of masculine domination and feminine submission.

August 9, 2012 at 06:44 AM | Permalink


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Very wordy, very academic.

Here's my beef: why are academics always writing about last year's problem? Yes, this is an issue, but it's one that's been discussed already. There is nothing new here.

Posted by: justme | Aug 9, 2012 10:12:07 AM

* conventional * expectations of masculine domination and feminine submission.

no, c'est historique, cross-cultural, global

stop the liberal Amazon mythos

Posted by: Adamakis | Aug 9, 2012 10:37:03 AM

I have no idea what the author just said, don't care.

The prison controls the bodies of the rapist and victim. It therefore entirely responsible for all injuries to victims. If prisons are made to pay, and executives lose jobs, rape will end.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 9, 2012 11:43:20 PM

justme, what hasn't been discussed already?

Take racism. Racism has been discussed already. Under that rubric, racism should not be discussed ... shouldn't have for years.

To the extent the paper talks about current events & analysis, the specifics are novel at any rate.

Posted by: Joe | Aug 10, 2012 1:35:42 PM


A couple of points.

I suspect this article is counting consensual sex as rape, based on the legal theory that an inmate can never give consent. That is an important distinction from forced sex.

From my experience, the problem is societal. We just do not see a woman (even if she is in a position of power)as using her power for sex to be "rape." In NY, I knew of countless examples where this happened (a secretary where I worked had consensual sex with an inmate). This is rape in NYS. The DAs often do not want to touch these cases for various reasons and the facility usually cuts a deal with the perpetrator. She resigns and no charges are dropped.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 10, 2012 3:59:22 PM

Correction:My last sentence should say, "She resigns and no charges are brought."

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 10, 2012 4:00:37 PM

actualy tarlsQtr it's NOT

otherwise are you saying it's no longer legal to arrest men for "concentual sex" with underage girls?

it's the same thing! They LEGALLY CANNOT consent!

therefore LEGALLY it's RAPE!

therefore it SHOULD be counted!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 10, 2012 5:15:54 PM


I do not disagree. It should be counted. My argument is that it is a societal problem, not so much a prison problem. People just do not see rape by women as a serious issue.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 11, 2012 9:20:25 PM

ouch. i have to apoligize. hadn't seen that about the women being the big problem.

i have to agree societiy needs to get the shit out of it's eyes and see the WHOLE problem not just part of it!

this is right up there with that women in florida that was ruled by another retard judge to be TOO PRETTY to go to prison!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 12, 2012 9:48:58 PM

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