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Rape and Sexual Power in Early America Paperback – September 4, 2006

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0807857618 ISBN-10: 0807857610 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A tour de force of historical research and cultural analysis.Norma Basch, Emerita, Rutgers University "

Review

In this model integration of social, legal, and cultural history, Block astutely explores the political import of sexual violence. Her distinctions between legal rape and social coercion, her reading of the perilous journey from act to accusation, and her account of the racialization of rape expose the sexual dynamics of power in early America.--Estelle Freedman, Stanford University

|A comprehensive look into the issue of rape and sexual violence during early American history. . . . Modern readers will gain a vivid understanding of not only rape and sexual relations during this period, but also the connection between rape and racism.--H-Net Reviews

|A complex analysis of the legal, cultural, and social dimensions of rape in the US. . . . Block offers a sophisticated yet highly readable explanation of the construction of sexual crime during this period of US history. . . . Highly recommended.--Choice

|Unravels the power dynamics of rape by merging microhistories of individual women with macrohistories of institutional and cultural views of sexual behavior.--COMMON-PLACE

|Likely to generate excellent discussions in women's studies, women's history and early American history classrooms. . . . Block has demonstrated that rape does indeed have a history.--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

|A convincing portrait of the broader social and political environments in which distinctions between coercion and consent, assault and rape, were and were not drawn.--Early American Literature

|This book's strength lies in the cultural and intellectual history of gender and race through the analysis of texts; the author parses a host of judicial cases and other recorded incidents of rape and sexual assault. In this respect, the book has no equal for the time and places it considers.--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

|A tour de force of historical research and cultural analysis. In this beautifully written and brilliantly argued work, Sharon Block shows us the culturally specific ways in which sexual violence was integral to both white mastery and gender hierarchy and, in so doing, illuminates as well the profoundly transhistoric role of rape in systems of power.--Norma Basch, Emerita, Rutgers University

|Block deftly navigates . . . complicated matters in her thoroughly researched monograph.--Journal of African American History

|Ambitious . . . Extensively researched. . . . [This] provocative and well-argued book will change the way scholars think about rape. . . . A nuanced analysis.--The William and Mary Quarterly

|Block has written the definitive study of sexual violence in early America. . . . Makes sense of the seemingly hypocritical colonial stance on sexual violence and enhances our understanding of early American power relations in the process.--Journal of American History

|"An impressive work of legal/social/cultural history that builds upon and enhances the recent scholarship on sexuality and rape. . . . This painstakingly researched study is an important and valuable book.--American Historical Review

|Block offers a sophisticated yet highly readable explanation of the construction of sexual crime during this period of US history.--CHOICE

|Block's thorough research, astute analysis, and graceful writing make this the definitive work on rape in the British colonies and early Republic.--New England Quarterly

|An original and multifaceted exploration. . . . Combines . . . methodological approaches of social, legal, and cultural history to offer many perspectives on rape, and it does so within a sophisticated theoretical framework that spans literary, legal, and historical analyses of gender, power, sexuality, race, and colonialism. . . . Will surely become standard reading for scholars of early American history, women's history more broadly, and students of gender, race, sexuality and power.--Journal of Social History

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (September 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807857610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807857618
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 9.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #785,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jon Wiener on October 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
Everything you wanted to know about rape in early America but were afraid to ask. Where did the colonists draw the line between consensual and coerced sex? Where did they draw the line between coerced sex and the crime of rape? In answering these questions, Sharon Block shows how race and class determined the power that men had to avoid prosecution, and the power that women had to seek protection. She knows that study of the legal records is necessary but not sufficient, so she explores how early Americans wrote about rape in diaries, fiction, political propaganda, travel writing, and humor. In short: a brilliant book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By SCM on January 16, 2014
Format: Paperback
I represented victims of sexual assaults in civil actions, until about three years ago. I'd become very disillusioned with what I had been doing.

Something interesting happened as I read this book, that I wasn't expecting. I came away with a sense of pride in the legal profession, for women's rights activists and victims' rights activists, for the powerful legal protections in place for victims today. When I represented victims in civil cases, we were suing for money. Why? Because that's all our courts are set up for; justice is a lovely concept, but try collecting it from a defendant. Money is great, but as I told many clients, it will not fix them. It will not undo the rape. It will pay for therapy and lost wages, but it isn't the end. There is no closure at the end of the court case, just a piece of paper (the judgment) and a check (if lucky).

But.

We've come a long way. Legally, that is. Socially, not so much (if you have ever read the comments following a news story about a rape, you will understand what I mean).

There are still idiots who believe that rape victims can't get pregnant. (In the eighteenth century, it was believed a woman had to climax in order to become pregnant.)

Rape victims still must make the painful decision about whether to come forward (which is very traumatic, even with counselors and support); their reaction to an assault has as much to do with social standing, race, and relative power now as it did in the early Republic.

Then, as now, most women disclose to a trusted female friend first.

Then, as now, many women delay reporting.

Then, as now, many women wonder if they did something to provoke the attack.
Read more ›
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jill on October 11, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The title is a little provocative, but the core material is factual,
readable, relevant to issues we understand from 'today'. Value this resource.
It's one of a kind.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carol A. Zehosky on August 24, 2014
Format: Paperback
Satisfied customer, will do business again.
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