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Silence, Power, and Inequality: An Intersectional Approach to Sexual Violence

Publication Abstract

Armstrong, Elizabeth A., M. Gleckman-Krut, and L. Johnson. 2018. "Silence, Power, and Inequality: An Intersectional Approach to Sexual Violence." Annual Review of Sociology, 44: 99-122.

Sexual violence reproduces inequalities of gender, race/ethnicity, class, age, sexuality, ability status, citizenship status, and nationality. Yet its study has been relegated to the margins of our discipline, with consequences for knowledge about the reproduction of social inequality. We begin with an overview of key insights about sexual violence elaborated by feminists, critical race scholars, and activists. This research leads us to conceptualize sexual violence as a mechanism of inequality that is made more effective by the silencing of its usage. We trace legal and cultural contestations over the definition of sexual violence in the United States. We consider the challenges of narrating sexual violence and review how the narrow focus on gender by some anti-sexual violence activism fails women of color and other marginalized groups. We conclude by interrogating the sociological silence on sexual violence.


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