by Susan Brownmiller ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 1, 1975
The feminist book par excellence, by one of the Movement's leading theoreticians, about the crime only males can commit--rape. From a feudal lord's ""first night"" privileges with his female serfs to a Southern plantation owner's easy access to his slaves, from ancient Troy to Vietnamese hamlets, everywhere soldiers have marched into conquered lands, the strong and the rich have systematically oppressed the weak and the poor, preferably (but not always) those of other races, creeds or nationalities, usually women, but also slightly built young men in prisons. Brownmiller shows how rape has its genesis in power (and the need to preserve the appearance of power) rather than eroticism. It is as much a function of the strange byways of male dominance and bonding as it is an expression of contempt for the female victim: early Babylonian law was concerned with the loss of the bride price associated with the marriage of an ""unspoiled"" virgin; rape was avenged not by punishing the rapist, but by violating his wife in turn. And on up through the present, where the author demolishes many of the convenient male myths concerning the crime by using law enforcement statistics from a variety of locales. Once and for all she lays to rest the claims that rape charges are unfounded (two percent of the time, the same as for other felonies), that women ""precipitate"" rape by provocative behavior (less often than any other major crime), that rape victims are often prostitutes deprived of a fee (one percent of the time), that resistance increases the chance of physical harm (it doesn't), that rapists are shy, lonely men with inadequate sex lives (they're violence-prone criminals, usually with a record, who rape in groups nearly half of the time). This is an important and compelling book that calls for a feminist reordering of our society: it may make women shudder, but it will also make them think--and possibly rage.
Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1975
Page Count: -
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1975
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