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Sociology of Gender: Anti-Rape Movement


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In sociology, we make a distinction between sex and gender. Sex are the biological traits that societies use to assign people into the category of either male or female, whether it be through a focus on chromosomes, genitalia or some other physical ascription. When people talk about the differences between men and women they are often drawing on sex – on rigid ideas of biology – rather than gender, which is an understanding of how society shapes our understanding of those biological categories. Gender is more fluid – it may or may not depend upon biological traits. More specifically, it is a concept that describes how societies determine and manage sex categories; the cultural meanings attached to men and women’s roles; and how individuals understand their identities including, but not limited to, being a man, woman, transgender, intersex, gender queer and other gender positions. Gender involves social norms, attitudes and activities that society deems more appropriate for one sex over another. Gender is also determined by what an individual feels and does. 

The sociology of gender examines how society influences our understanding and perception  of differences between masculinity (what society deems appropriate behaviour for a “man”) and femininity (what society deems appropriate behaviour for a “woman”). We examine how this, in turn, influences identity and social practices. We pay special focus on the power relationships that follow from the established gender order in a given society, as well as how this changes over time. This sub-study holds important roles in this current massive-changing world, one of examples is used to describe any feminism-related phenomenon. Without such understanding, feminism-related may be seen as it is or radical action from women who don’t accept reality, but sociology explain this more by looking at the social structure and many other factors theoretically. One phenomenon that  can be explained by sociology of gender is Anti-rape movement

This movement emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when new concepts around Rape emerged from the second wave of feminism which succeeded in critically evaluating women's lives socially and in relation to the social institutions in which they interacted. Prior to this evaluation, Rape had been seen as a sex crime perpetrated by pathological men who were unable to control their own sexual desires. Feminists began to emphasize the dynamic role of male domination over women. Rape was then defined as a form of violence used to ensure male power, a form of social control over women and children. The movement was founded on the concept that sexual violence and violence against women more generally are tools of social control used to place women in a subordinate position to men and that women need to do something that helps victims of sexual violence become “survivors” of violence, not victims. The anti-rape movement continues today, with growing awareness in the United States public sphere of the concept of rape culture coinciding with the growing popularity of feminism (Donat, PLN, and D'Emilio, J., 1998; Research Sharing Project).

The Anti-Rape Movement is a socio-political movement that seeks to combat violence and harassment against women. This feminist movement has the main goal of changing people's attitudes towards violence experienced by women, such as the attitude of men who arbitrarily vent their lust and blame women, and change the attitude of women who tend to blame themselves for the violence they experience. In addition, the movement seeks to promote changes to the law surrounding rape that would allow perpetrators of violence to avoid punishment because victims are prohibited from reporting attacks against them, or because perpetrators are legally able to demean victims (women) (

This movement was started by a group of women who tried to break the silence in society regarding the issue of Rape and the losses caused as a result. Feminists began to notice the low rate of rape convictions and realized that Rape's actions by men were not taken seriously in court. The Anti-Rape Movement then began to fight not only to reform the law, but in many cases to fight for the repeal and revision of the law. In New York in 1971, one of the most stringent states in Rape's claims, their laws forced victims to provide evidence for the strength, penetration, and identity of the perpetrator all before the case could even be tried. These strict guidelines and requirements make women feel insecure in their own environment. Groups such as Women for a Free Future are calling for legal reform to protect women and their rights. Part of the movement was helped by the increasing number of women involved in the law. In the late 1960s, women made up only 3% of the total number of attorneys in the United States. Gradually, more and more women entered law school and brought their feminist ideals. More and more women's groups are getting involved in the struggle not to change the law, but to repeal it. Feminists planned a meeting in 1972 to discuss what action would be disclosed to MPs that they wanted the law repealed. In 1973, the Women's Anti-Rape Coalition began a campaign through the media and legislation to bring attention to issues within the law (Bevacqua, M., 2000).

Changes to the state law began when a bill that would have removed the evidentiary requirement was repealed in Congress. After the national conference in 1973, changes began to occur more rapidly starting with the formation of the National Rape Task Force (NOWRTF) which is a subgroup of the National Organization for Women (NOW). One of the most successful repeal attempts occurred in Michigan in 1974. Michigan passed a Criminal Sexual Conduct Law Bill that removed spouse exclusions, lowered the burden of proof, redefines rape, and other reforms, although most states had repealed them earlier in 1990. -an. By 1980, all states had made, or at least considered making some changes. The example set by Michigan prompted all other states to take action against Rape. By 1980, there were more than 400 rape crisis centers in the United States and laws were changed to give victims more influence and voice during trials (Prevent Connect).


Fried, A. (1994). "It's hard to change what we want to change". Gender & Society. 8 (4): 562. doi:10.1177/089124394008004006. S2CID 143732274

Donat, P.L.N., and D'Emilio, J. (1998). A feminist redefinition of rape and sexual assault: Historical foundations and change. In M.E. Odem and J. Clay-Warner (Eds.), Confronting Rape and Sexual Assault, (pp. 35-49). Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Bevacqua, M. (2000). Rape on the Public Agenda: Feminism and the Politics of Sexual Assault. Boston: Northeastern University Press.


Research Sharing Project. A Brief History of the Anti-Rape Movement. Retrieved on  25 December 2021.

Prevent Connect. History of the Rape Crisis Movement and Sexual Violence Prevention. Retrieved on  25 December 2021 The Feminist Poetry Movement. Retrieved on  December 2021.

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