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Joanna Bourke

This article explores Pinker’s analysis of sexual violence in modern history. It argues that his analysis is flawed because of a selective choice of data, a minimization of certain harms, the application of an evolutionary psychology approach, the failure to interrogate new forms of aggression, and a refusal to acknowledge the political underpinnings of his research. By failing to acknowledge and then control for his own ideological bias, Pinker has missed an opportunity to convincingly explain the changing nature of violence in our societies.

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Chloe Krystyna Garcia and Ayesha Vemuri

Sexual violence continues to be normalized in modern society through heterosexist jokes and problematic portrayals of female sexuality. A number of young female activists use YouTube as a technology of nonviolence to share their thoughts about rape culture and how it can be transformed. We performed a thematic analysis of 10 videos produced by young women and girls to investigate what they identify as rape culture and how they use videos to communicate their messages. We argue that they offer meaningful insight into the institutions that contribute to the normalization of sexual violence, including schools and universities, the media, and legal and political systems. We believe that stakeholders interested in dismantling rape culture can use these videos to educate themselves and others about the concerns voiced by women and girls, who are, arguably, the population most affected by sexual violence.

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Rekinning Our Kinscapes

Renegade Indigenous Stewarding against Gender Genocide

Sandrina de Finney, Shezell-Rae Sam, Chantal Adams, Keenan Andrew, Kathryn McLeod, Amber Lewis, Gabby Lewis, Michaela Louis and Pawa Haiyupis

“Sisters Rising” is an Indigenous-led research project that centers the gender knowledge of Indigenous youth and communities. In this article, members of “Sisters Rising” build on the notion of kinscapes to propose renegade stewardship as a generative concept through which to consider what kinds of responses are required at the community-scholarly-activist level to disrupt conditions of gender-based and sexual violence and racialized poverty that strip Indigenous bodies of sovereignty, land, and cultural connections while targeting us for genocide. Operating from a multimethod research standpoint that is land- and arts-based, community-rooted, and action-oriented, that engages youth of all genders, and that links body sovereignty to decolonization, this work seeks to build political, theoretical, ceremonial, and interpersonal channels that are crucial to restoring dignity with advocacy for and by Indigenous communities.

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Aiyana Altrows

Bringing rape stories into popular discussion was a crucial success of the Second Wave Women’s Liberation movement. Popular culture is now inundated with rape stories. However, the repetitive scripts and schemas that dominate these are often informed by neoliberal individualism that is antithetical to feminism. The contradictions that characterize the tensions between feminism and neoliberalism in these texts are typically postfeminist, combining often inconsistent feminist rhetoric with neoliberal ideology. By examining the use of the silent victim script in young adult rape fiction, in this article I argue that most young adult rape fiction presents rape as an individual, pathological defect and a precondition to be managed by girls on an individual basis, rather than an act of violence committed against them.

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Sol Neely

Deadgirl (2008) is a horror film that gained notoriety on the film festival circuit for its disturbing premise: when a group of teenage social outcasts discover a naked female zombie strapped to a gurney in the basement of an abandoned asylum, they decide “to keep her” as a sex slave. Accordingly, two sites of monstrosity are staged—one with the monstrous-feminine and the other with monstrous masculinities. Insofar as the film explicitly exploits images of abjection to engender its perverse pleasures, it would seem to invite “abject criticism” in the tradition of Barbara Creed, Carol Clover, and colleagues. However, in light of recent critical appraisals about the limitations of “abjection criticism,” this article reads Deadgirl as a cultural artifact that demands we reassess how abjection is critically referenced, arguing that—instead of reading abjection in terms of tropes and themes—we should read it in diachronic, allegorical ways, which do not reify into cultural representation.

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Violence makes safe in South African prisons

Prison gangs, violent acts, and victimization among inmates

Marie Rosenkrantz Lindegaard and Sasha Gear

That gangs have a prominent place in South African prison violence—like in many other geographical contexts—has become increasingly clear. Based on qualitative research among South African inmates and ex-inmates, we propose that prison gangs be considered adaptation strategies to the extremely coercive and oppressive environments of prisons. We focus on the relationship between gang involvement in prison, violent acts among inmates, and the risk of being subjected to violence during incarceration. By providing emic perspectives, we aim to demonstrate how inmates negotiate three types of social roles, largely defined by their ability and willingness to use violence: franse, gangster, and wyfie. Our findings suggest that prison gangs may jeopardize the personal safety of inmates, but can also paradoxically offer some inmates the opportunity to establish a sense of safety and agency by avoiding random violence.

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Technologies of Nonviolence

Ethical Participatory Visual Research with Girls

Astrid Treffry-Goatley, Lisa Wiebesiek, Naydene de Lange and Relebohile Moletsane

Rapid developments in digital technologies have sparked revolutionary shifts in participatory research. Emerging tools such as digital stories and cellphilms offer participants opportunities to engage actively in research and to produce media about their everyday lives. Yet, while these may enable such engagement, researchers need to ensure that the very tools meant as technologies of nonviolence are not in and of themselves violent. This article uses a technology-based, participatory visual methods workshop conducted with girls and young women as part of addressing sexual violence in a rural community in South Africa as a case study. We identify and reflect on some of the ethical issues that arose during the workshop and how we addressed them. Our aim is always to locate our work on addressing sexual violence with young rural women within an ethics of nonviolence rooted in and responsive to the context in which we work.

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Eliza Guyol-Meinrath Echeverry

For decades, Canadian-based corporate development projects have been linked to acts of violence in countries all over the world. These acts include sexual violence, destruction of property, community displacement, the use of forced labor, and other forms of violence. While Canada has repeatedly failed to pass legislation holding Canadian-based corporations accountable for human rights abuses committed abroad, Canadian courts are increasingly asserting their jurisdiction over cases of development-related violence. Analyzing two ongoing court cases—Caal v. Hudbay, regarding sexual violence in Guatemala, and Araya v. Nevsun, regarding forced labor in Eritrea— this article examines the potential and limits of law to address the bureaucratic mechanisms and grounded experiences of corporate-development-related violence, and the changing relationship between states, corporations, law, and human rights in the modern global era.

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Maria Bucur

Over the past half decade, philosopher and political scientist Mihaela Miroiu published a series of short autobiographical stories that were eventually collected in a book, Cumintea mea de femeie [With my woman’s mind] (Bucharest: Cartea românească, 2017), which was reviewed in Aspasia (vol. 12) in 2018. While the whole volume deserves an international audience, I have selected the story “Medusa’s Smirk,” for translation because it sheds light on a topic little known, yet extremely important, in the lives of many women: sexual violence. Discussing sexual violence was a taboo topic under communism, and many women suppressed their traumatic memories of violence both seen and experienced. Yet accounts such as the one shared below have circulated orally and deserve further attention from scholars. For another relevant account, see http://www.publicseminar.org/2017/12/sex-in-the-time-of-communism/.

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“For Girls to Feel Safe”

Community Engineering for Sexual Assault Prevention

Day Greenberg and Angela Calabrese Barton

This article explores the efforts of two girls to use STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) knowledge and practice to empower themselves and their peers amid threats of sexual violence against them. Drawing on the feminist construct of intersectionality and social practice theory, we examine how these girls called on intersecting knowledge, practices, people, and scales of activity (different scopes of action) to reclaim space, voice, and peace in the face of violence and fear, scaffolded by adults who became their partners for change.