Added: October 25, 2000 – Last updated: November 5, 2016


Author: Shani D'Cruze

Title: Approaching the History of Rape and Sexual Violence

Subtitle: Notes towards research

Journal: Women's History Review

Volume: 1

Issue: 3

Year: September 1992 (Published online: February 16, 2011)

Pages: 377-397

ISSN: 0961-2025 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1747-583X – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 19th Century, 20th Century | European History: English History



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»This article seeks an historical interpretation of sexual violence against women and children through a discussion of cultures of masculinity. By means of an interdisciplinary review of the available literature it argues against historical explanations of sexual violence as deviance and supports perspectives which see sexual violence as an integral part of the maintenance of historically located patriarchal power relations. The argument draws upon Jackson's concept of 'sexual script' as providing neutralisations of violent male sexuality which mediate between culture, behaviour and consciousness. Legal institutions can be shown to share many such neutralisations either embodied within or through subversions of their own rules and procedures. Primary evidence focuses the discussion on working-class communities in later nineteenth-and early twentieth-century Lancashire, UK. Police and lower court records are employed to illustrate a prevailing culture of masculinity which targets (frequently sexual) violence onto women and children, which, to the extent that it occupies public space in the town, becomes the concern of local policing. Sources also show women using local police and courts to assert their own definitions of injury and employing informal strategies through social support networks to redress their grievances.« (Source: Women's History Review)

»Cases of violence against working-class women in late 19th- and early 20th-century Lancashire communities support the interpretation of sexual violence against women as a component of a gendered popular culture through which male domination was asserted and maintained. While the expression of violence was more open in working-class communities, shared assumptions about men, women, and sexuality disadvantaged women seeking redress for violence committed against them. Nonetheless, women, supported by female relatives and neighbors, did press charges against men who assaulted them or their children.« (Source: Historical Abstracts)

»A literature review is used to present a historical interpretation of sexual violence against women & children in which sexual violence is seen as integral to locating patriarchal power relations. Drawing from Stevi Jackson's concept of sexual scripts, in which neutralizations of male sexuality are thought to mediate between culture, behavior, & consciousness, it is argued that legal institutions share many such neutralizations within their rules & procedures. A case study of police & lower court records from working-class communities of Lancaster, England, in the late nineteenth & early twentieth century illustrates: (1) how the prevailing culture of masculinity targets violence onto women & children, & (2) the extent to which women were able to use the police & courts to assert their own definitions of injury & to use informal support networks to redress grievances.« (Source: Sociological Abstracts)

Wikipedia: History of Europe: History of England / Victorian era, Edwardian era