Walker 2014 Bodies

Title Information

Speaker: Garthine Walker

Title: Sex, Age and Bodies

Subtitle: 'Victim-Blaming' and Culpability in the History of Rape c.1500-1800

Conference: Gender, Generation and the Body. 21st Annual Conference of the West of England and South Wales Women's History Network

Place: Cardiff

Date: June 21, 2014

Language: English

Keywords: 16th Century, 17th Century, 18th Century | English History | Victims: Blaming

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Additional Information

Speaker: Garthine Walker, School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University

Abstract: »Early modern ideas of gender, generation and the body informed the ways in which legal and cultural culpability for rape was ascribed – but not always in the manner we might expect. Modern concepts of victim blaming (which focus on women and girls who have been raped rather than the men who raped them) and of rape culture (which again puts the onus for avoiding rape on women rather than on men) often seem transhistorical. In the early modern period, understandings of the causes and the effects of rape were not always the same as ours. In this paper, I shall explore the role of early modern understandings of sexual desire, of age, and of the body in ascribing culpability for rape. We shall see that despite general misogynist assumptions about women in early modern culture, rape was frequently associated with male sexual desire. This had particular implications for cases in which children or older women or men were victims or defendants. During the eighteenth century, however, culpability for rape shifted from men on to women: by the end of the century,'modern' notions of victim-blaming had emerged that remain with us in the present day.« (Source: The West of England & South Wales Women's History Network)

Added: June 7, 2014 | Last updated: June 7, 2014