Speaking Out Against Rape: Feminist (Her)Stories and Anti-Rape Politics

Tanya Serisier

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In 1976, Susan Brownmiller published 'Against Our Will', widely credited as the founding text of feminist anti-rape theory, in which she famously declared that rape was 'nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear'.While the scholarship and politics of Against Our Will have been subjected to numerous and compelling critiques, the work retains canonical and even foundational status within feminist anti-rape politics. In this article I attempt a critical re-examination of feminist (her)story telling practices. By situating the story told in Against Our Will beside and within Brownmiller's story of the creation of the book and her own coming-to-consciousness, a more general reexamination of the role of women's speech and (her)story-telling in feminist anti-rape politics is afforded. This re-reading draws out two central aspects of the politics of (her)story-telling which can be found in Brownmiller's work and in the Joan W. Scott quotation above. Firstly, the need to be recognised as a 'just source' of women's stories has resulted in the granting of epistemological primacy to stories of women's experience or personal statements. Secondly, the desire to compensate for the lack of a 'classical myth' to authorise women's claims, resulting in an attempt to imbue these feminist (her)stories with their own mythology.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)84-95
    Number of pages12
    JournalLilith: A Feminist History Journal
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • feminism
    • feminist history
    • women in politics
    • rape
    • anti-rape movement

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Sciences(all)
    • Arts and Humanities(all)


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