Confronting Rape: The Feminist Anti-rape Movement and the State

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Routledge, 1994 - Political Science - 188 pages
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Confronting Rape documents two decades of anti-rape activism. From grassroots efforts to the institutionalization of state-funded rape crisis centers, the movement has changed public thinking significantly about sexual assault. Activists in rape crisis centers across the US have created a feminist success story, although not always as they would have chosen. Confronting Rape explores how the state has reshaped rape crisis work by supporting the therapeutic aspects of the anti-rape movement's agenda and pushing feminist rape crisis centers toward conventional frameworks of social service provision, while submerging the feminist political agenda of transforming gender relations and preventing rape.
Through a rich comparative history of six organizations in Los Angeles, Nancy Matthews explores the complexities within a movement that includes radicals, moderates, women of color, lesbians - all working within varying frameworks. Originally critical of the state's handling of rape and distrustful of co-optation, most rape crisis centers eventually came to rely on state funding for organizational survival. But have the resulting compromises gone too far? Confronting Rape reveals significant, often covert, local level resistance and struggle against the mainstreaming of rape crisis work. Bureaucratic routines and discourses are both the tools through which the state redefines rape crisis work and the terrain of activists' resistance.

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About the author (1994)

Nancy A. Matthews is Visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Sociology, Oberlin College, USA.

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