A Feminist a Day: Susan Brownmiller

Who is she?

Susan_Brownmiller_CamA_001-10_ASusan Brownmiller is an American feminist journalist, author, and activist best known for her 1975 book Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape.

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.

 

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A Feminist a Day: Susan Brownmiller

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