Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape

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Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape.

Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape is a 1975 book about rape by Susan Brownmiller.

Brownmiller criticizes authors such as Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Engels for what she considers their oversights on the subject of rape. She defines rape as "a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear". She writes that, to her knowledge, no zoologist has ever observed that animals rape in their natural habitat. Brownmiller sought to examine general belief systems that women who were raped deserved it, as discussed by Clinton Duffy and others. She discusses rape in war, challenges the Freudian concept of women's rape fantasies, and compares it to the gang lynchings of African Americans by white Americans. This comparison was used to show how lynching was once considered acceptable by communities, and then attitudes changed, followed by changed laws; Brownmiller hoped the same would happen with rape.

John Lauritsen dismissed Against Our Will, calling it "a shoddy piece of work from start to finish: ludicrously inaccurate, reactionary, dishonest, and vulgarly written." Angela Davis argued that Brownmiller disregarded the part that black women played in the anti-lynching movement and that Brownmiller's discussion of rape and race became an "unthinking partnership which borders on racism". Brownmiller's conclusions about rapists' motivations have been criticized by the anthropologist Donald Symons in The Evolution of Human Sexuality (1979), and by Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer in A Natural History of Rape (2000). The historian Peter Gay wrote that Against Our Will "deserves pride of place among (rightly) indignant" feminist discussions of rape, but that Brownmiller's treatment of Sigmund Freud is unfair.

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