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November 2: Brownmiller’s Historic Book on Rape

November 2, 2013
4048-2015Susan Brownmiller's Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, prompted four articles in a single edition of the Washington Post on this date in 1975, an example of the tremendous media coverage that greeted her remarkable book's publication the month before. Against Our Will emerged from four concentrated years of research about rape and its role in human culture and society throughout the ages. Its wealth of information and insight was accompanied by some controversial analyses, most notably that "all men benefit" from the ubiquity of rape because it keeps women subordinated and fearful. "In subsequent decades," says the Jewish Women's Archive, "prosecutors, activists, and academics concerned with rape have all credited Brownmiller’s work with leading to profound transformations in legal and social understandings of rape. Acquaintance rape has been recognized; women have been more likely to report rape; rape crisis centers have become more common; laws that made it difficult to prosecute rape or that refused to recognize marital rape have been overturned. . . . One clear measure of Brownmiller’s continuing impact is reflected in the 2002 ruling by the International Criminal Court that rape in the context of war constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity." To see Brownmiller commenting on the genesis and impact of her book, look below. "I can argue that my chosen path - to fight against physical harm, specifically the terror of violence against women - had its origins in what I had learned in Hebrew School about the pogroms and the Holocaust." -Susan Brownmiller