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Beyond the "Thorny Question": Feminism, Foucault and the Desexualisation of Rape

NCJ Number
International Journal of the Sociology of Law Volume: 19 Issue: 1 Dated: (February 1991) Pages: 83-100
V Bell
Date Published
18 pages
The term "sex" is used in a variety of ways in the debate of whether rape is or is not about sex. The proposition that rape is (or is not) sexual can be an attempt to convey quite different perspectives. Feminists are in agreement with Foucault that the genitalia does not have to be involved in sexual assault.
Rape is about both sex and power, because the two are interconnected in the way male sexuality is constructed and experienced by men. The experience of being powerful is part of being a man and of male sexuality, and expressing that power through violent intrusion is experienced as sexually arousing. The term sex is given a meaning equivalent to gender. Rape is sexual because it opposes men and women, and because it is about the ways in which masculine will act upon feminine within the present power relations. It has been argued that there are not one or two, but three pivotal terms of importance to this debate: sex, power, and violence. The different meanings and theorizing of these three terms lie behind the different positions taken up by the contributions to the "desexualization" debate. 3 notes and 30 references


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