Framing the Rape Victim, Framing the Rape Victim, 0813566029, 0-8135-6602-9, 978-0-8135-6602-3, 9780813566023, , , Framing the Rape Victim, 0813566037, 0-8135-6603-7, 978-0-8135-6603-0, 9780813566030, , , Framing the Rape Victim, 0813566045, 0-8135-6604-5, 978-0-8135-6604-7, 9780813566047, , , Framing the Rape Victim, 0813572142, 0-8135-7214-2, 978-0-8135-7214-7, 9780813572147,
Framing the Rape Victim

Gender and Agency Reconsidered
Carine M. Mardorossian (Author)
178 pages, 2 photographs, 6 x 9
Paper, May 2014 $28.95   ADD TO CART
Cloth, May 2014 $78.00   ADD TO CART
epub, May 2014 $28.95   EBOOK VERSION AVAILABLE
Subject Area:
Women's Studies, Gender Studies, Sociology


In recent years, members of legal, law enforcement, media and academic circles have portrayed rape as a special kind of crime distinct from other forms of violence. In Framing the Rape Victim, Carine M. Mardorossian argues that this differential treatment of rape has exacerbated the ghettoizing of sexual violence along gendered lines and has repeatedly led to women’s being accused of triggering, if not causing, rape through immodest behavior, comportment, passivity, or weakness.

Contesting the notion that rape is the result of deviant behaviors of victims or perpetrators, Mardorossian argues that rape saturates our culture and defines masculinity’s relation to femininity, both of which are structural positions rather than biologically derived ones. Using diverse examples throughout, Mardorossian draws from Hollywood film and popular culture to contemporary women’s fiction and hospitalized birth emphasizing that the position of dominant masculinity can be occupied by men, women, or institutions, while structural femininity is a position that may define and subordinate men, minorities, and other marginalized groups just as effectively as it does women.  Highlighting the legacies of the politically correct debates of the 1990s and the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the book illustrates how the framing of the term “victim” has played a fundamental role in constructing notions of agency that valorize autonomy and support exclusionary, especially masculine, models of American selfhood.

The gendering of rape, including by well-meaning, sometimes feminist, voices that claim to have victims’ best interests at heart, ultimately obscures its true role in our culture. Both a critical analysis and a call to action, Framing the Rape Victim shows that rape is not a special interest issue that pertains just to women but a pervasive one that affects our society as a whole.


“With a distinctive, innovative, and powerful feminist voice, Mardorossian makes a fantastic contribution to the scholarship on sexual violence that will excite much interest and fuel many debates. Framing the Rape Victim is simply brilliant.”
—Joanna Bourke, author of Rape: Sex, Violence, History

"Mardorossian powerfully illustrates how aversion to 'victim rhetoric' has valorized agency but ignored the ways political and cultural institutions shape experiences of choice, consent, autonomy, and vulnerability."
—Rose Corrigan, author of Up Against a Wall: Rape Reform and the Failure of Success

"A powerful critique."
—Ms. Magazine

Author / Editor Bio

 CARINE M. MARDOROSSIAN is a professor of English at the University of Buffalo. Her first book was Reclaiming Difference: Caribbean Women Rewrite Postcolonialism. 

Table Of Contents


1. Framing the Victim
2. Rape and Victimology in Feminist Theory
3. "Birth Rape": Laboring Women, Coaching Men, and Natural Childbirth in the Hospital Setting
4. Prison Rape, Masculinity, and the Missed Alliances of Hollywood Cinema
5. Rape by Proxy in Contemporary Diasporic Women's Fiction

Works Cited


American Melancholy
Laura D. Hirshbein
No Place for a Woman
Janann Sherman
Transcultural Bodies
Ylva K Hernlund, Bettina K Shell-Duncan
Activism and the Olympics
Jules Boykoff