Gender and Sexuality in the Social Construction of Rape and Consensual Sex: A Study of Process and Outcome in Six Recent Rape Trials

  • Anne Edwards
Part of the Explorations in Sociology book series (EIS)


Rape has been a central concern of feminism(s), receiving attention equally from both the activist women’s movement claiming justice and equal rights for women and from feminist theorists seeking to understand the forms and functions of male dominance and the oppression of women. Rape as a criminal offence has certain ‘peculiar’ (Berger, 1977), possibly unique characteristics which can largely be attributed to its distinctively gendered nature. Rape until recently has been legally defined and culturally perceived as a crime committed by men against women. This sex and gender specificity has significantly affected the way law enforcement and criminal justice personnel deal with the crime. There is now extensive research showing that, in Western countries, the question of evidence and the role of the complainant, who is also the principal and often the only witness, are handled by police and the courts in cases of rape quite differently from other kinds of assault and serious offences generally. A deep-seated belief that accusations of rape are easily made and often false1 seems to persist and this then justifies treating the woman (complainant/victim/survivor)2 as though it were she who were on trial.


Sexual Intercourse Criminal Justice System Sexual Violence Social Construction Genital Wart 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© British Sociological Association 1996

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  • Anne Edwards

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