Feminism, Philosophy, and the Law
Edited by Leslie Francis
Publication date:15 March 1996
Length of book:206 pages
PublisherPenn State University Press
From Mike Tyson to the Portland Trail Blazers to William Kennedy Smith, from Katie Roiphe's The Morning After to the Antioch College policy, the issue of acquaintance, or "date," rape has captured our national attention in recent years. In a major contribution to current debates over the meaning of date rape and how it should be criminally punished, this volume brings together lawyers, philosophers, and feminists to explore "communicative sexuality" as a model for the condemnation of date rape.
As a crime, rape is viewed more ambiguously than most other offenses. As a social issue, rape reflects deep divisions in our attitudes about sexuality and gender. Nowhere are these divisions more obvious than in the controversies over date rape. Women who assert that they have been victimized by acquaintances—or, worse, by spouses or former lovers—may be met with the judgment that they, too, bear responsibility for what happened. While the past few decades have seen two major waves of rape law reform in the United States, these reforms have only chipped away at the basic criticism that sexual coercion, particularly by acquaintances, remains largely unpunished in contemporary American law.
Lois Pineau's feminist analysis of date rape, which is the centerpiece of this book, seeks to replace myths about female provocation and male self-control with a model of communicative sexuality, in which each partner tries to understand the aims of the other and to further these ends toward what Pineau calls "good sex." Aggressive or coercive sex, Pineau argues, lacks this fundamental understanding. Thus, Pineau's reconceptualization of sexual assault has two elements: nonconsensual sexual action and lack of the communication needed to establish that the action was consensual.
In recognition of the importance of this radical reconceptualization of sexual assault, the contributors to Date Rape evaluate its theoretical plausibility and its practical consequences. The result is a balanced evaluation of a major new direction in our understanding of rape.
—Rosemarie Tong, Author of Women, Sex, and the Law