Who is she?
Susan argues that rape is a means of perpetuating male dominance by keeping all women in a state of fear. In this day and age, that might seem like an obvious idea, but the book was groundbreaking and changed the way rape was defined as a crime in America and internationally.
The idea that rape was not a crime of lust, but of violence and power, was a major revelation. The book was a bestseller, and attracted its share of critics, but remains highly influential.
Susan described rape in wartime as a “weapon of terror” – how prescient that in 2002 a ruling by the International Criminal Court found that rape in the context of war constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity.
Why should we thank her?
Against Our Will not only changed attitudes, it actually changed society’s understanding of rape as a crime, and in some cases, it changed the law – it’s credited with changes to the US criminal code that required a corroborating witness to a rape, and that permitted a defendant’s lawyer to introduce evidence in court regarding a victim’s prior sexual history.