The Most Comprehensive Study Of Rape Ever Offered To The PublicIt Forces Readers To Take A Fresh Look At Their Own Attitudes Toward This Devastating Crime NEWSWEEKAs Powerful And Timely Now As When It Was First Published, AGAINST OUR WILL Stands As A Unique Document Of The History Of Politics, The Sociology Of Rape And The Inherent And Ingrained Inequality Of Men And Women Under The Law In Lucid, Persuasive Prose, Brownmiller Has Created A Definitive, Devastating Work Of Lasting Social ImportanceChosen By THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW As One Of The Outstanding Books Of The Year


10 thoughts on “Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape

  1. says:

    I ve been asked why I wasn t a fan of Torchwood You d think I would be Who doesn t like Captain Jack I turned on the first episode and that ruined it for me In the premiere, one of the Torchwood crew smuggles home an alien something or other, like a roofie He goes to a bar, a woman rejects him, he uses the alien thing, and then she is really, willing, and able They leave the bar, and outside the woman s boyfriend stops them Our hero uses the magic roofie on the boyfriend, who is now ready, willing, and able The only reason why the character, Owen, didn t engage in a threesome is because his cell phone went off And the viewer was supposed to find this attempted rape funny, amusing Because I knew people who enjoyed the series, I saw an episode every now and then Torchwood was great in terms of homosexual and bisexual characters lifestyles, but in terms of women and rape, I have to give the show an F Then there is Batman The Dark Knight Where Rachel dies, not that I was sad to see such a non character go, but it was pretty insulting too Bruce says, She was waiting for me Not that he loved her Interesting word choice And Alfred, well, Alfred erases her decision, her choice, and her last choice She is defined, owned, by the men around her, not herself In Philadelphia, a female judge a few years ago ruled that a prostitute or a woman engaging in prostitution cannot be raped or even gang raped Earlier this year, a comic joked about rape and then wondered if it would be funny if his heckler were gang raped The heckler, who was a woman who objected to rape jokes, was the only one who walked out of the show And least we forget, in the last month there has been Mr Legitimate Rape Now, try to tell me that this book still isn t relvalent Just try to tell me True, the statistics, and hopefully some of the laws, are out of date Brownmiller s comments about rape, in particular the view society has of the victims and how it is portrayed in movies are still relvalent Wasn t the last talked about fictional rape scene the one in the Daniel Craig version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I know several people who it made uncomfortable I wonder why because it was rape or because it was eroticized She talks about how rape is seen in a society that puts forward the false accusation, which does happen but at least in the 1970s, the numbers weren t that high I have heard people debate whether or not rape victims should still be granted anonymity in the press after the Duke Lacrosse case How come it is phrased that way, and not the suggestion of keeping both the names of the victim and the accused out of the press Brownmiller shows the way society and the media not only objectify the victim but also blame the victim Remember the female reporter who was sexually assaulted in the Tahir Square Various news websites showed her dressed in a rather revealing gown, the kind one wears to a movie premiere or an awards night not what she was wearing when she reported from Egypt A modern example of Brownmiller s objectification and blame the victim sections Why, once again, this book is still current I could go on, from the FBI finally changing its definition of rape to the idea of a virgin rape victim being deserving of an abortion But I won t I can t I can only say, read this book Just read it Updating to point out that the prositute in Philadelphia is mentioned in Jessica Valenti s The Purity Myth How America s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women, which is good and seems to be influenced by this book


  2. says:

    From Wikipedia The 2012 Delhi gang rape case involved a rape and fatal assault that occurred on 16 December 2012 in Munirka, a neighbourhood in South Delhi, when a 23 year old female physiotherapy intern, 2 was beaten and gang raped in a private bus in which she was travelling with a male friend There were six others in the bus, including the driver, all of whom raped the woman and beat her friend The woman died from her injuries thirteen days later while undergoing emergency treatment in Singapore 3 4 The incident generated widespread national and international coverage and was widely condemned, both in India and abroad From BBC, describing the plight of a Yazidi girl captured by the ISIS She was taken with other women to a sports hall Then, after a couple of weeks, to a wedding hall In one place, there were 200 women and girls These were slave markets IS fighters could come to take their pick We didn t dare look at their faces We were so afraid One girl came back after she had been used as a sex slave and told us everything After that, IS did not allow anyone else to return They were shooting to scare us They took whomever they wanted, by force We were crying the whole time We wanted to kill ourselves but we couldn t find a way One girl did manage to kill herself, Hannan tells me She slashed her wrists They didn t let us help her They put us in a room and shut the door She died They said It doesn t matter, we ll just dump the body somewhere It seems nothing much has changed at least not for the better since Susan Brownmiller wrote her book forty years ago In the beginning was the law which stipulated woman as the exclusive property of man Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour s. In ancient Babylon, according to the laws of Hammurabi, the punishment for raping a virgin was death and the girl was considered blameless But if a married woman was raped, both parties were considered guilty and thrown into the river Among the Hebrews, in both the cases both parties were killed by stoning if the crime took place within the city walls, with the logic that the girl could have screamed if she wanted to gags must have not been invented then If outside the city walls, the virgin was pardoned because nobody could have heard her screams the married woman was still executed however, the rapist only had to pay fifty shekels as compensation the price of her intact hymen to her father Because she was a valuable commodity Hence also, the commandment above Ms Brownmiller notes that there is no commandment against rape, only adultery For the Hebrews, rape seems to be a crime which did not exist.The author opines that the institution of marriage must have originated from the practice of capturing a woman for sexual use Later on, as man became civilised , the capture was seen as theft so the custom of buying a bride started, which exists even today in many parts of the world even bride stealing exists among some communities.In Medieval times, the capture of a high born woman meant access to her wealth and estates This is a staple of many a Gothic romance, but it is doubtful whether the original events were very romantic.So throughout history until relatively recently, woman has been viewed as a mere commodity which has justified the unlawful possession of her body From the handbook ISIS have reportedly published on the treatment of female slaves Question 1 What is al sabi Al Sabi is a woman from among ahl al harb the people of war who has been captured by Muslims Question 2 What makes al sabi permissible What makes al sabi permissible i.e., what makes it permissible to take such a woman captive is her unbelief Unbelieving women who were captured and brought into the abode of Islam are permissible to us, after the imam distributes them among us Question 4 Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive It is permissible to have sexual intercourse with the female captive Allah the almighty said Successful are the believers who guard their chastity, except from their wives or the captives and slaves that their right hands possess, for then they are free from blame Koran 23 5 6 Question 5 Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive immediately after taking possession of her If she is a virgin, he her master can have intercourse with her immediately after taking possession of her However, is she isn t, her uterus must be purified first Question 6 Is it permissible to sell a female captive It is permissible to buy, sell, or give as a gift female captives and slaves, for they are merely property, which can be disposed of as long as that doesn t cause the Muslim ummah any harm or damage Question 9 If the female captive was impregnated by her owner, can he then sell her He can t sell her if she becomes the mother of a child Question 13 Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse Question 19 Is it permissible to beat a female slave It is permissible to beat the female slave as a form of darb ta deeb disciplinary beating , but it is forbidden to use darb al takseer literally, breaking beating , darb al tashaffi beating for the purpose of achieving gratification , or darb al ta dheeb torture beating Further, it is forbidden to hit the face Question 21 What is the earthly punishment of a female slave who runs away from her master She i.e the female slave who runs away from her master has no punishment according to the shari a of Allah however, she is to be reprimanded in such a way that deters others like her from escaping Ms Brownmiller describes in great detail the longest chapter in the book how women have been considered traditional spoils of war she details the atrocities during the first and second world wars, the Vietnam war, and Pakistan s war in Bangladesh The incentive of female bodies to possess has always been an incentive to the soldier, walking on the edge of death The female is seen just as an object to gratify male craving The excerpts from the handbook above proves that little has changed This is my weapon, this is my gunThis is for fighting, this is for fun U.S Drill Sergeant s ditty to be continued


  3. says:

    This book has all of the problems of second wave feminism It s a very white, middle to upper class look at rape, seeing it as a male female inequality without a big look into bigger institutional issues And by bigger I don t mean the criminal justice system I mean capitalism, classism, racism, etc I particularly dislike Brownmiller s take on interracial rape as a burden of white women, which stood out as a starkly racist stance to take on the issue I also dislike Brownmiller s thoughts that the criminal justice problem will solve rape if only rapists would be arrested and sent to jail for their crimes Unfortunately, the criminal justice system is broken, and is really used as a way to incarcerate poor people of color Maybe people didn t realize that in the 1970s, but these days I wouldn t excuse an author for taking that stand.Finally, I dislike how Brownmiller almost completely ignored rape outside of the realm of male rapists violating women The only male on male rape she explored was within the prison system Again, maybe this book is just a product of the times, but I found it shocking that such an exhaustive treatise on rape would completely ignore male on male rape, female on male rape and female on female rape While male on female rape has the highest rate of occurrence, it s not like the other rapes don t happen They re just ignored, and that doesn t help anyone.


  4. says:

    Taking into account the book was published in 1975, Susan Brownmiller s Against Our Will Men, Women, and Rape remains one of those books any serious feminist or pro feminist has to read It is a book I wish every man would read Brownmiller s journalistic background and systematic historic overview of rape s place in male dominant cultures make her work earth shaking The majority of men do not understand feminism even today this book s intensity and clarity makes it far easier to understand.


  5. says:

    I wanted to challenge myself and venture out I wanted a new perspective and outlook Me being a heterosexual African American man with no prior knowledge at the time of feminism, I wanted to learn and understand This is the first book to introduce me to the culture I, myself, took a bit of a drive to get the last available copy at a Barnes and Nobles located quite a distance from me But a drive years later that still resonates me A drive for a book that put me through discomfort learning about the history of rape and abuse of women The I read, the anger and disgust I felt to those who would commit such acts Excuse my language but I m not bullshitting when I say real genuine blood boiling anger A lot of why s ran through my head with every page flip And If I wasn t feeling that, I felt for the victims that were on the receiving end It doesn t have to be this book in particular but I encourage all men to pick up some type of feminist piece of writing, read it, understand it, and retain it Especially in Today s day and age with so much going on, it is much needed for all of us.


  6. says:

    Reading Against our Will is a little like watching a John Wayne movie When one sees the familiar swagger of the all American hero, the oddly familiar, maybe even hackneyed, ring to it makes one ask, Haven t we seen this before So, too, does Brownmiller s book feel like ideas that have been repeated frequently, especially to readers who have tastes similar to mine But then, when reading Brownmiller s work or watching Wayne s movies , I have to remember this stuff is not hackneyed I like to stay away from words like groundbreaking, but Brownmiller s 1975 work, well, broke ground As John Wayne became the protoype of the noble hero, Against Our Will 1975 set the standard for much feminist thinking about rape.Our society is still very much steeped in rape culture The fact that we use the word penetration to describe even VOLUNTARY sex acts indicates an attitude that sex is a violation in and of itself Brownmiller herself and later feminists have taken issue to the phraseology, as I do But when, where and how did this rape culture start Brownmiller digs down into the roots of rape and discusses it as the physical and psychological crime we now consider it to be When reading Against Our Will, it is important to remember that Brownmiller, along with a handful of her contemporaries, caused us to begin thinking of rape as enlightened members of our culture have come to think of it now as an act of violence on the bodily integrity of a full human being.Brownmiller suggests that the concept of the heterosexual couple with the male as protector of the female originated because of a female fear of rape Those of her own sex whom she might call to her aid were often than not smaller and weaker than her male attackers.But among those creatures who were her predators, some might serve as her chosen protectors Perhaps it was thus that the risky bargain was struck Female fear of an open season of rape, and not a natural inclination toward monogamy, motherhood or love, was probably the single causative factor in the original subjugation of woman by man, the most important key to her historic dependence, her domestication by protective mating 16 Because of this assymtetrical need for protection, woman came to be seen as less than man If man were going to protect woman in a way that woman could not protect man or herself, woman would become man s property And rape, in the eyes of the law, became a property crime Rape entered the law through the back door, as it were, as a property crime of man against man Woman, of course, was viewed as the property 18 The first major consideration in the legal view of rape was the rape of virgins, as to rape a virgin was to reduce her value in the marriage market and thus to cheat her father Because fathers were not the only men who suffered property damage due to rape, the law was expanded to protect the interests of husbands as well, as their wives, though not virgin, were their property Ancient Babylonian law and ancient Hebrew law differed in their punishment of rapists, but both had a curious habit in certain and most circumstances of punishing the victim as severely as the rapist Ancient Hebrew tradition also gave us the story of Joseph and Potiphar s wife According to the story, Joseph, a respected slave in Egyptian leader Potiphar s house, refused the sexual advances of the Egyptian s wife, who then claimed to her husband that Joseph tried to rape her To this day, some still consider accusations of rape as the revenge of a spurned female Brownmiller also discusses English common law, upon which most US common law is based English common law originally followed strictures similar to that of ancient Hebrew law Men who ravished virgins had the option of marrying that virgin to save himself from punishment The law viewed the raped woman as consenting to the union, though usually her option was either marrying her rapist or lifelong ignominy and lack of financial support, as her father would likely not want his sullied property returned The law also reflected class biases of the day this obligatory marriage did legally apply to noblemen who raped common women, but for such a nobleman to be charged, let alone convicted and forced to marry a commoner, was almost unheard of Still, establishing some sort of penalty for a rapist that did not automatically apply to the victim as well helped to acknowledge rape as a public crime rather than a privately disputed property violation Brownmiller also embarks on an in depth discussion of rape in war Rape in war is inevitable, and Brownmiller takes a strong stance on the phenomenon War provides men with the perfect psychologic backdrop to give vent to their contempt for women The very maleness of the military the brute power of weaponry exclusive to their hands, the spiritual bonding of men at arms, the manly discipline of orders given and orders obeyed, the simple logic of the hierarchical command confirms for men what they long suspect, that women are peripheral, irrelevant to the world that counts, passive spectators to the action in the center ring 32 Perhaps it is humankind s dark nature that makes us value taking life as is done en masse in war and still mostly by men over giving life in birth, the exclusive domain of the female , but undervaluing the female is what causes rape in the first place and especially what aids rapists in times of war Brownmiller discusses several conflicts, including both world wars, Vietnam, and the rape of Bangladesh in the early 1970s In each conflict, rape was a key feature of soldiers behavior, and Brownmiller dismisses the idea that a sexual hunger was the impetus for rape In most wars, prostitution coexists with the military in a seemingly mutually beneficial relationship Sexual hunger can be sated easily enough, but rape has its own appeal Not only is it free, but it give the rapist a sense of power that simply paying for sex or gaining free sex through a consensual union does not When one comes to see the enemy as less than human as one must in order to kill the enemy , sometimes a simple kill seems too merciful Torture in the form of rape, prior to or instead of the kill, reinforces that sense of superiority in the conquering rapist and, ideally, reinforces the idea of subhuman ness in the victim.Other highlights from the book include Brownmiller s discussion of date rapes a term she coined and how police view claimants of rape by an acquaintance as unfounded But institutions of culture and power serve not only to enable rapists to commit the crime but enable law enforcement to dismiss the crime outright Date rapes and rapes by men who have had prior relationships with their victims also contain elements of coercive authority that militates against decisive resistance Here the authority takes the form of expected behavior In a dating situation an aggressor may press his advantage to the point where pleasantness quickly turns to unpleasantness and than the woman bargained for, yet social propriety and the strictures of conventional female behavior that dictate politeness and femininity demand that the female gracefully endure, or wriggle away if she can, but a direct confrontation falls outside of the behavioral norms These are the cases about which the police are wont to say, She changed her mind afterward 257 So, date rapists have culture on their sides which gives them carte blanche to proceed with unwelcome sexual behavior in the name of healthy male lusts Date rape victims have culture doubly against them in that they are neither taught to fight back nor condoned for doing so, yet are blamed for the rape because their behavior led him on If the word no does not convey the message clearly enough, the palm heel strike on the nose might, but neither are viable options to the female having the male date s advantage pressed Allow me to interject at this point that I can see how our attitudes toward date rape have altered somewhat there are still some holdouts in less civilized areas of the South We now make educated guesses than Brownmiller could about the number and nature of rapes that go unreported, and most women know that statistically, the stranger behind the bush is the least of one s worries I.e., the date pressing his advantage is a bigger culprit than the dark man hiding in the park or breaking into a stranger s house But even though we know who the culprit is likely to be, we are not really any prepared for the other half of the equation fighting off the date, friend of a friend, party guest, family member or total stranger, and censuring his or her actions legally and culturally.Attendant to this argument is Brownmiller s discussion of the myths of rape, and she spells them out succinctly 1 ALL WOMEN WANT TO BE RAPED.2 NO WOMAN CAN BE RAPED AGAINST HER WILL.3 SHE WAS ASKING FOR IT.4 IF YOU RE GOING TO BE RAPED, YOU MIGHT AS WELL RELAX AND ENJOY IT These are listed on p 311 Brownmiller expands upon each of these For the first, Brownmiller states, Because rape is an act that men do in the name of their masculinity, it is in their interest to believe that women also want rape done, in the name of femininity 312 The first myth leads directly to the second The concept seems to imply at first hearing that if the will of a woman is strong, or if she is sufficiently agile, she can escape unscathedbut No woman can be raped against her will is not intended to encourage women to do battle against an aggressor rather, it slyly implies that there is no such thing as forcible rape 312 The third myth, the popular short skirt defense, conveniently shifts the blame for the rape away from the rapist and onto the victim and of the three is the one that seems still to be with us as much in 2011 as it was in 1975 The final one adds insult to injury by reinforcing myth number one you want it and myth number two you would resist if you really didn t and throwing in a dose of inevitability and female powerlessness.Brownmiller finishes her discussion of rape by discussing how rape can be curtailed in the future She promotes the idea of making rape solely a crime against one s bodily integrity, as an aggravated assault is, and bringing punishments for rape in line with those for that crime Brownmiller further argues that spousal rape should be viewed as a crime which it now is , with the reasoning, Consent is better arrived at by husband and wife afresh each time, for if women are to be what we believe we are equal partners then intercourse must be construed as an act of mutual desire and not as a wifely duty, enforced by the permissible threat of bodily harm or economic sanctions 381 AMEN Brownmiller concludes the book in a way that makes me want to kiss her hand she contests the shopworn advice given to women to protect themselves from rape The old standbys of not being out alone, keeping car doors locked, wearing conservative clothing, and always being accompanied by a male serve to enable rapists, as the number of potential victims may decrease negligibly but the number of rapists remains the same They also further victimize those who are victims of rape, because they open up numerous opportunities to blame the victim Why were you out alone What did you expect with that short skirt Why didn t you and your girlfriends take a man with you to the bar None of these conditions brings on a rape the only condition that causes a rape is being in the presence of a rapist.The book has a few dated parts, but those parts are encouraging the ones that still hold true after 35 years are often disheartening A classic of second wave feminist thought and required reading for anyone who considers him or herself a feminist, I recommend it wholeheartedly.


  7. says:

    While this work has been expanded upon and explored further in later feminist works, the voice in this book s intensity and clarity make it a good introduction to feminist critique This is less useful for someone familiar with modern feminism Brownmiller never conceptualizes interracial rape as a burden of white women as another reviewer has claimed In fact the institutionalized rape that came with slavery gets a chapter all its own whereas interracial rape does not Actually, she doesn t advocate for tougher penalties, she believes in reclassifying rape along the lines of aggravated assault She argues that modern law regarding rape has been passed down from the old patriarchy That is, originally, the property value of virgin daughters Depending on the physical injury sustained, the use of weapons or gangs of rapists, she advocates for 6 month to 20 year penalties And she advocates we stop treating those who claim to be raped with extra suspicion as opposed to those who report other sorts of crimes this cultural inclination to see the woman as lying naturally grows from patriarchal paranoia male fear.She overreaches at times She claims all men benefit from rape, and that rapists act as myrmidons for all men Not true In fact some men benefit substantially than others, and some men are hurt by the mass psychology of rape In fact, a number of men have been victimized as a result of it Brownmiller dedicates another chapter to this issue within the prison system, although female to female prison rape is handled briefly as well.This is harsh material of course But, as I said before, if you still have never bothered to learn about feminism directly your concept of feminism derives from non feminist sources , this is a good one to pick and get clarity directly about some issues particularly and intensely important to feminists.


  8. says:

    The heart of this book is a statement early on Page 15 From prehistoric times to the present, I believe, rape has played a critical function It is nothing or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.This book traces the thesis from ancient civilization to the present Early Pages 18 19 , she refers to the Code of Hammurabi as well as Scripture In turn, the book unfolds as follows rape and war rape and revolution Indians and slavery and rape gangs and rape and so on Much of the material is painful to read She notes that rape is often experienced differently by men as opposed to women Indeed, in the last chapter, Brownmiller addresses the concept of rape within marriage using Soames rape of Irene in The Forsyte Saga as an example.How to address the matter She speaks of harsher penalties within the legal system, limiting pornography, and trying to limit prostitution.The most provocative aspect of this book is its claim that rape, in essence, is political, a threat or actuality that keeps women in their place The evidence for this In this volume, it is only anecdotal Brownmiller develops a fascinating thesis, but we would need evidence to render judgment Indeed, I once used a survey of college students to determine if there were political effects among women, based on any experienced rape or on the fear of being raped Results were inconclusive, but work is probably warranted.At any rate, a powerful book Whether or not one agree with the thesis, it provokes thinking about important issues And that is a contribution in itself.


  9. says:

    Before reading this book, I was already familiar with the famous quote from Against Our Will It s one of those that pops up in social justice paradise or purgatory, depending on the day of the week , Tumblr, on a regular basis From prehistoric times to the present, I believe, rape has played a critical function It is nothing or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear Stirring stuff, indeed but, out of context, it seems a little overwrought So it was good to read Susan Brownmiller s fully formed argument for why rape should be seen as central to understanding the history of the world.In fact, I exited Against surprisingly persuaded by Brownmiller s thesis Namely, that rape is an important thread that runs through history it s the reason women originally subjugated themselves to men, seeking protection from the constant threat of rape it s been used as a powerful weapon in every war it played an intrinsic role in slavery it s penetrated women s psyches, shaping their behaviour and, as a result, it s been sewn into the very fabric of society.Originally published in the 1970s, it would be nice if Against were one of those feminist tomes that now seems quaint and outdated In fact, apart from a couple of obsolete sections, Against still feels searingly relevant We still live in a society where, when a girl is raped and there is corroborative evidence in a form that was inconceivable in the 70s cell phone video , it s the ruined reputations of her rapists that draw public sympathy Similarly, Brownmiller s descriptions of how women are expected to act in order to avoid being raped could be drawn from any current discussion of rape culture.Rape is one of those things that it s difficult to face head on It s really uncomfortable to read full and frank descriptions of rape in slavery, in wartime, and on the streets of the so called civilised world In fact, one of the most startling things to realise is how systematically accounts of rape have failed to be taken down throughout history either because women were deemed unimportant or because the whole business was deemed too unseemly to be written down As an American Studies graduate, who has studied the slave trade and various of the wars described in Against at an undergrad level, it s unfathomable to me how little I learned about how rape informed these situations In slavery, in particular, rape is absolutely central to the business it s how you get new slaves, after all.Brownmiller s attempts to catalogue and reclaim the history of raped women in Against are undoubtedly laudable and necessary Unfortunately, these rape accounts do get repetitious and, if I weren t a quick reader, I might have put this book down and failed to ever pick it up again as a result of the slow pace.My other issue with this book is that it s a thoughtful, balanced work that s saddled with an outdated, polemical final chapter Brownmiller uses the final pages to rail against pornography in a way that feels painfully outdated She also pre empts Godwin s Law by 20 years by turning to an overwrought Nazi analogy to make her point Yes, rape is a pandemic and, yes, some particularly violent pornography encourages and neutralises rape, but is it analogous to the Holocaust No.It s too bad the final chapter of Against had me rolling my eyes so hard, because it s otherwise such an excellent book It s one that I ll almost certainly need to re read and reflect on at length If you re a feminist already well schooled in rape culture, Against Our Will might seem like it contains only things you already know, but that s not the case at all It really is an illuminating work.


  10. says:

    Against Our Will is a feminist landmark.It is painstakingly researched, which makes it a great reference work I first picked it up some years ago when I was writing my law school monograph on sexual violence against women during armed conflicts The huge amount of historical information and testimonies that Brownmiller brings also serves the purpose of showing how rape has been, and is, everywhere part of history, part of all women s lives as a fact or a possibility something that is, frankly, terrifying Interestingly, Brownmiller admits that, originally, she believed that age old myth that rape is something that happens to other women, women who did something wrong, who were asking for it It was only through actually listening to the survivors and learning about the reality of rape that she understood the truth that rape can happen to all women, and it doesn t matter whether you are rich or poor, a baby or an 80 year old, ugly or beautiful, covered from head to toe or in a miniskirt, out alone at night or in your own home or even in a walled convent, sober or drunk, etc etc etc Blaming the victim might give you a false sense of security or even superiority, but it won t change the fact that it could happen to you.I can relate to Brownmiller s journey of learning And I know a lot of women who can, too Victim blaming and rape myths are everywhere in our culture, and it s incredibly hard to stop them from seeping into our subconciousness But you can root them out You can listen, and read, pay attention and question what you think you know about rape.And if you want to learn about rape culture, this is a great book to read It was written over 30 years ago, and it is SCARY how much of it is still perfectly current.But perhaps it is not for everyone It is deliberately explicit, for the purpose of exposing rape as the horrifically violent crime it truly is That makes for tough reading at times But I wish that, at least, men would read it.