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


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Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape + Transforming a Rape Culture + I Never Called It Rape: The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape
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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: 0.9 x 5.4 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 77 people found the following review helpful 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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26 of 35 people found the following review helpful By "efoff" 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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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 18, 1999
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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29 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Paul D. Harvill on May 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
For an excellent read on the topic of rape and war, please read "Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape" by Susan Brownmiller. The enormity of such crimes is well documented by Brownmiller.

When I read the book in the late 1970s, my understanding of the sexual abuse consequences of war left me overwhelmed by the agony of millions of women through the ages. Upon re-reading it years later, the impact of the book still left me devastated.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful 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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23 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Stephen M. St Onge on April 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
I remember when AGAINST OUR WILL came out, and people quoted any of a half-dozen lines from it, especially 'Rape is the conscious conspiracy by which all men keep all women in subjugation.' I dismissed it as the work of a crank.

Then, a few years later, I had to read it for a college class. Surprise! Cross out the half-dozen oft-quoted lines, and what was left was very good and thoughtful.

I could make other criticisms of the book (for example, any volume that explores rape by soldiers, and doesn't mention the Red Army in WWII has a serious problem), but it remains a classic exploration of a subject almost ignored before it was published. It's very much worth reading.
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