Social Philosophy Today 35:89-101 (2019)

Lisa H. Schwartzman
Michigan State University
Legal definitions of rape traditionally required proof of both force and nonconsent. Acknowledging the difficulty of demonstrating the conjunction of force and nonconsent, many feminists argue that rape should be defined based on one element or the other. Instead of debating which of these two best defines the crime of rape, I argue that this framework is problematic, and that both force and nonconsent must be situated in a critique of social power structures. Catharine MacKinnon provides such a critique, and she reframes rape as a matter of gender inequality. However, rather than rejecting the force/nonconsent dichotomy, MacKinnon focuses exclusively on force, which she thinks can be reconceived to include inequalities. Considering the #MeToo movement and feminist efforts to use Title IX to address campus rape, I argue that the concept of consent is more flexible than MacKinnon suggests and that “affirmative consent” can challenge this liberal model. In requiring active communication, affirmative consent shifts responsibility for rape, opens space for women’s sexual agency, and allows for the transformation of rape culture. Thus, I argue that rape should be defined by the use of force, the lack of affirmative consent, or the presence of both elements.
Keywords Conference Proceedings  Social and Political Philosophy
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 1543-4044
DOI 10.5840/socphiltoday201981264
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,078
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Rethinking Rape: Implications of Embodiment.Ann Joy Cahill - 1998 - Dissertation, State University of New York at Stony Brook
Moral Injury and Relational Harm: Analyzing Rape in Darfur.Sarah Clark Miller - 2009 - Journal of Social Philosophy 40 (4):504-523.
Reconsidering Rape: Rethinking the Conceptual Foundations of Rape Law.John Bogart - 1995 - Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 8 (1):159-82.
Rape and Resistance. [REVIEW]Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa - 2018 - The Philosophers' Magazine 83:117-118.
The Wrong of Rape.David Archard - 2007 - Philosophical Quarterly 57 (228):374–393.


Added to PP index

Total views
59 ( #191,199 of 2,498,790 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
13 ( #59,207 of 2,498,790 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes