Alcoff’s Rape and Resistance : A Précis

Philosophical Studies 177 (2):289-296 (2020)
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Abstract

This article summarizes Linda Martin Alcoff's Rape and Resistance. Alcoff's analysis centers on a political and philosophical defense of the need to recognize the complexity of both the phenomenon of sexual assault and the various political attempts to counter it. Such complexity extends to the process of describing an experience of sexual assault, which Alcoff argues is always shaped by a multitude of political and social discourses. Alcoff's Foucauldian analysis results in an innovative description of the harms of sexual assault, one that focuses on the ways in which experiences of sexual assault prohibit the active involvement of the subject in the development of their sexual subjectivity. Recognizing that gender-based violence is a global phenomenon, Alcoff nevertheless argues that place-specific instances of such violence are contextualized by the larger phenomenon, which is heterogeneous to its core. The article concludes by posing several questions to Alcoff, centered on the themes of the ethics of sexual experimentation, assailants' ascription of hyperagency to targets of sexual assault, and how sexual assault may influence the sexual subjectivity of maleidentified victims, particularly those who were assaulted as children.

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Ann Cahill
Elon College

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