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2011 Edition with a New Afterword by the author
The venerable and often misquoted phrase "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" continues to haunt American women who accuse men of sexual harassment and rape. In this bracing study of American sexual culture and the politics of acquaintance rape, anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday identifies the sexual stereotypes that continue to obstruct justice and diminish women.
Beginning with a harrowing account of the St. John's rape case, Sanday reaches back through British and American landmark rape cases to explain how, with the exception of earliest colonial times, rape has been a crime notable for placing the woman on trial. Whether she is charged as a false accuser, gold digger, loose or scorned woman, stereotypes prevail. American jurisprudence and the public at large remain divided on acquaintance rape.
With the passage of the Violence Against Women Act—one of the most important legislation for women—a new breed of antifeminists stepped up to the plate to subordinate women's bid for sexual autonomy and freedom. A groundbreaking, classic work of scholarship that coherently challenges the anti-rape backlash and its rhetoric, A Woman Scorned continues to bring a broad perspective to our understanding of acquaintance rape, even if its original vision of a new paradigm for female sexual equality awaits implementation.
“It never ceases to amaze me that the notion of talking to one’s partner about sex instead of just barging ahead strikes so many as preposterous, but thanks to Sanday I have a better understanding of the social and historical forces that lie behind that view. . . . (A Woman Scorned is) a useful guide that measures both how far the anti-rape movement has to go and how far it has already come” —Katha Pollitt, Washington Post Book World
“Might the battles between men and women be settled by a quiet discussion? . . . By mere talk, prevailing over the biological urges of humans? So thinks Peggy Reeves Sanday. . . . In A Woman Scorned, she makes a strong case for her theory. . . . After all, as well as setting clear limits, talking engages the mind, and the mind, Ms. Sanday reminds us compellingly, is the ultimate erogenous zone.” —Christopher Lehmann Haupt, The New York Times
“(Sanday) makes the sensible suggestion that Americans shift their sexual assumptions to ‘affirmative verbal consent.’ When Antioch College made these changes a few years back, many predicted a muzzling of spontaneous desire. Not so. ‘Yes, I want to’ may be among the most arousing words in the English language.”—Michael Kimmel, San Francisco Chronicle
“A compelling account of cultural roots of rape. Sanday has successfully imagined a way out – one that includes the possibility of a woman’s freedom from violence and freedom for a fuller life. Here are cultural history and anthropology at their best, in service to a more human society.” —Catherine Lutz, coauthor of Reading National Geographic
“One of America’s preeminent anthropologists casts her careful and trained eye on the subject of acquaintance rape. A thoughtful and provocative examination of America’s sexual culture, and the meaning of sexual equality.” —Susan Estrich, Real Rape
“Peggy Sanday is a gifted scholar and superb storyteller. She brings a wealth of insight to her riveting case histories of celebrated rape trials. For anyone concerned about violence against women, A Woman Scorned is essential reading.” —Deborah L. Rhode, author of Justice and Gender
“A Woman Scorned is nothing less than a call to arms—to our lawmakers, our law enforcers, our legal experts, and our public: No longer can we allow centuries-old stereotypes and antiquated laws to obscures the relevance of a woman’s verbal consent.” —Julie Goldscheid, Staff Attorney, NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund