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Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape Paperback – May 11, 1993

3.7 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"The most comrpehensive study of rape ever offered to the public...It forces readers to take a fresh look at their own attitudes toward this devastating crime."
NEWSWEEK
As 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 importance.
Chosen by THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW as
One of the Outstanding Books of the Year

About the Author

Susan Brownmiller is an author and feminist activist, best known for her groundbreaking book "Against Her Will: Men, Women and Rape", which helped modernize attitudes toward rape and placed it in the broader context of pervasive gender oppression. In 1995, the New York Public Library selected "Against Her Will" as one of the one hundred most important books of the twentieth century.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprinted edition (May 11, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449908208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449908204
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. Calhoun on April 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
Published in the midst of the second wave women's movement AGAINST OUR WILL remains an integral book in the feminist literary canon to the present day. Employing an historical analysis Brownmiller reveals in exquisite detail how some men have been subjugating some women since Biblical times. Her thesis of the use of rape during wartimes as an arsenal for the winning army is especially strong and admirable. This section alone deserves to be read by anyone interested in gender and women's studies as it clearly demonstrates how rape has been used to further antagonize and horrify the defeated population. The utilization of rape during the World Wars, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Serbia is certainly a difficult bit of knowledge to swallow. This book clearly demonstrates how rape has been used to keep some women on edge and weary of being both in public spaces and in their own homes.
Despite Brownmiller's important thesis I have several problems with AGAINST OUR WILL. Brownmiller has a tendency to over-emphasis her arguments with a deluge of statistics and case studies. It's almost as if she inserted every historical example she could find to further her arguments. Less is better in this instance. If she pared down her examples I believe her thesis wouldn't have been diluted in any such way. Another objection I have to AGAINST OUR WILL is her assertion of the following quote from her introduction, "Man's discovery that his genitalia could serve as a weapon to generate fear must rank as one of the most important discoveries of prehistoric times...[Rape] is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear". My problem with this passage is two-fold.
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Format: Paperback
Brownmiller's book gives a detailed account of the historical and cultural origins of rape. She gives insight to the causes of this heinous phenomenon. Brownmiller writes with an honesty that is absolutely necessary when dealing with rape, however this same honesty may cause some defensive males to take offense. Brownmiller's book requires us to take a critical look at rape and urges us to take action.
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By A Customer on April 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is as ground-breaking today as it was in 1975. Brownmiller systematically identifies and combats the many rape myths which have long kept both women and men in chains and in doing so, illustrates just exactly how much work anti-rape activists have ahead. By approaching the subject of rape in political terms, she challenges the reader to examine their own thoughts and experiences in a new light. This book is a daring and unapologetic appeal to people everywhere to rethink everything we ever thought we knew about sexual violence.
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By A Customer on April 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
Ms. Brownmiller's groundbreaking work on rape may be a little dated, and some of her more esoteric points incorrect, but for the most part this is an excellent, well written book.
Others have gone into detail about the strengths of this book, but I want to particularly point out her highlighting of the Bangladesh invasion, and how Pakistan used rape as a cultural weapon. Since that time, the former Yugoslavian Republics, numerous central African nations, and many far east nations have adopted the same practice. Ms. Brownmiller explains why such an action is truly a human rights violation of the first order, and deserves more attention than what it gets.
Ms. Brownmiller's one failing, though, is her assertion that rape only exists among humans, and does not exist in any other realm of the animal kingdom. I believe she is incorrect, but that is a small point.
The strongest point in Against Our Will is when Ms. Brownmiller contrasts the film reviews regarding the numerous rape scenes from "A Clockwork Orange," with the reviewers' description of Ned Beatty's rape scene in "Deliverance." While film reviewers fell all over themselves about "fullfillment" and eroticism in "Clockwork," somehow nothing fulfilling nor erotic occured in Deliverance. Now that's a pretty clear double standard.
This book has been around a long time--but it still has something to say. Ms. Brownmiller is a good writer, and the book moves well. Most high schoolers should not have any trouble reading it--and I think most of them (boys & girls) should. It would serve as a wonderful starting point for discussion of contemporary sex roles.
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Format: Paperback
Susan Brownmiller (born 1935) is an American feminist journalist, author, and activist; she co-founded the “Women Against Pornography” group in 1979. She has written other books, such as In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution, Femininity, Shirley Chisholm, Waverly Place (a novel), etc.

She wrote in the introductory section, ‘A Personal Statement’ to this 1975 book, “I may have been shortchanged here and there, but I have never been coerced. Yet there did come a time when I knew with certainty that I HAD to write a book about rape… when a group of my women friends discussed rape one evening in the fall of 1970, I fairly shrieked in dismay, I KNEW what rape was, and what it wasn’t. Rape was … a product of a diseased, deranged mind. Rape wasn’t a feminist issue…I learned that evening… that victims of rape could be women I knew… I learned that in ways I preferred to deny the threat of rape had profoundly affected my life… Never one to acknowledge my vulnerability, I found myself forced by my sisters in feminism to look it squarely in the eye. I wrote this book because I am a woman who changed her mind about rape.”

She ends the first chapter with the statement, “From prehistoric times to the present, I believe, rape has played a critical function. It is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which ALL MEN keep ALL WOMEN in a state of fear.
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