In both my grad class and my undergrad class this week we’re discussing Sharon Block’s Rape and Sexual Power in Early America. This is a book that goes over very well with college students, given their vulnerability to sexual assault as well as Block’s analysis of the racial and class dynamics of rape complaints and prosecutions. I was pushing my students on the question of why more hasn’t changed over the past 300 years, and decided to ask them if they knew someone who had been raped. All of us but ONE person out of 17 or 18 of us in the discussion section raised a hand.
I’m sure that most of us wouldn’t have raised our hands if I had asked if we knew any victims of car theft, or of embezzlement, or murder. I should have asked them if the assailant of the rape victim they knew was tried, convicted, and found guilty, too.
Rape truly is a crime so terrible that it never, ever happens, isn’t it?