The Politics of Rape: Race, Gender, and Sexual Violence in America, 1870-1950


ACLS Fellowship Program




This study argues that contestations over sexual violence helped shape the meaning of citizenship for both women and African Americans from the end of Reconstruction to the post-World War II civil rights campaign. The study explores strategies to defend women’s right to refuse sexual consent, the white supremacist demonization of black men as natural rapists who were incapable of the self-control required of citizens, and the civil rights campaigns that opposed lynching and defended black men accused of rape. It draws on sources ranging from popular and medical accounts of rape, state and federal laws and appellate court decisions, and the political discourses within women’s rights, white supremacist, and racial justice movements.