Thinking Sexual Difference Through the Law of Rape

Law and Critique 24 (3):255-275 (2013)
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Abstract

2013 marks 10 years since the Sexual Offences Act 2003 was passed. That Act made significant changes to the law of rape which appear now to have made very little difference to reporting, prosecution or conviction rates. This article argues that the Act has failed against its own measures because it remains enmeshed within a conceptual framework of sexual indifference in which woman continues to be constructed as man’s other. This construction both constricts the frame in which women’s sexuality can be thought and distorts the harm of rape for women. It also continues woman’s historic alienation from her own nature and denies her entitlement to a becoming in line with her own sexuate identity. Using Luce Irigaray’s critical and constructive frameworks, the article seeks to imagine how law might ‘cognise’ sexual difference and thus take the preliminary steps to a juridical environment in which women can more adequately understand and articulate the harm of rape.

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