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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 69702 Find in a Library
Title: Rape Crisis Counseling and the Culture of Individualism
Journal: Contemporary Crises  Volume:4  Issue:3  Dated:(July 1980)  Pages:323-339
Author(s): M L Andersen; C Renzetti
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 17
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Netherlands
Annotation: This paper reviews academic and popular theories of rape and illustrates how these theories are reflected in the beliefs of practicing rape crisis counselors.
Abstract: Data for the study were gathered through individual interviews with 25 female counselors in a university-affiliated rape crisis center. The counselors emphasized individualistic theories of rape, including victim-precipitated rape theories, and psychological and sociological theories. Some counselors believed women created their own vulnerability to rape, whether through unconscious 'signals,' lack of caution, or promiscuous activity. Their comments suggested that it was theoretically sound to distinguish between the invitation to attack and vulnerability to attack. In contrast to the counselors' varying degrees of acceptance of these theories, the article suggests, a political-economic perspective which interprets rape as a function of women's lack of political and economic autonomy. According to this theory, the subjection of women in Western societies emerges historically through the interaction of capitalism and patriarchy. Moreover, the development of rape as a public issue is closely linked to the resurgence of feminism. Yet the counselors not only resisted a feminist analysis of rape, but most were also hesitant to identify themselves with the women's liberation movement. Even among the three women who called themselves feminists, their philosophies on rape emphasized personal choice and individual self-help as means of combating rape. It is concluded that public activism is also needed. Thirty-nine footnotes are appended.
Index Term(s): Rape; Sociology
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