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The Rules of Power

The Big Idea for Saturday, February 16, 2013

Does America have a culture of rape?

Today's lesson argues that the problematic gender relations and gender norms that foster violence against women are the very same influences that condition jurors, judges, lawmakers and observers to perceive this violence against women as normal.

For instance, consider any situation wherein one person attacks another: as soon as the assailant is identified as male and the victim as female, we are conditioned to normalize the masculine aggression (even as we frown upon it) and identify faults of the woman’s character that may have led her to this fate.

And yet, addressing the issue of gender-differentiated treatment by the law is complicated. We must strike a balance between our obligation to litigate within our far-from-perfect reality and our obligation to foster social progress. When we give priority to the latter, under the pretense that our judicial system can handle these cases in a gender-neutral way, we fail to uphold either of these obligations.


  1. 1 Misogyny and the Law: Confronting America’s Rape Culture
    Steven Mazie Praxis
  2. 2 How Sexual Violence Disempowers Women and Cripples Society
    Margot Wallström
  3. 3 Empowering Women: Feminist Activist Gloria Feldt (taped) LIVE on Big Think
    Gloria Feldt
  4. 4 A History of Violence
    Andre Dubus III

The Rules of Power

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