Struggles Against Sexual Assault in the United States

Socialism 2017

August 15, 2017

From Brock Turner to Bill Cosby, headlines seem to constantly confirm that sexual assault is an entrenched part of U.S. society. Beginning with the genocide of Natives, throughout slavery and the Jim Crow era, sexual violence has reinforced and reflected oppression throughout U.S. history—and compelled people to organize, theorize, and fight back. This panel will survey a tradition of resistance reaching from the days of slavery when Black women fought for their lives, named their abusers, and sometimes testified in court; running through international campaigns in the 1940s for justice for Black women raped at the hands of white men that laid critical foundations for the civil rights movement; and continuing into the 1970s, when activists in the women’s liberation movement worked to analyze the roots and role of sexual violence and force it into the political forefront. This talk will also ask why sexual violence remains so entrenched today and what will it take to build a world free from rape and abuse. Drawing on the history of resistance to sexual violence in the United States from an intersectional perspective, speakers will examine how the lessons of past struggles can inform current movements against assault on college campuses and beyond.

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