Friday, May 1, 2015

Research Blog #10: Final Abstract, Bibliography, and Link to Paper

Abstract. Mainly using the Emma Sulkowicz case at Columbia University, this paper does not try to resolve the issue of consent but it does explore the blurred lines between consensual and nonconsensual activity as well as the questions it raises and the social, emotional, and legal repercussions of sexual violence on college campuses. Rape culture is examined and analyzed in this paper as the cultural and social implications potentially placed on the Sulkowicz case as well as how it affects young men and women everywhere outside of Columbia University. Hookup culture is another social and cultural theory that is put into the context of sexual violence in this paper. The manner in which authority figures on college campuses handle sexual assault reports is finally criticized to demonstrate that the issue of consent in sexual violence on campus is influenced by many aspects of society and humanity and that it remains a misunderstood but dire issue that should receive more investigation to take place in university settings and beyond.


Link to paper:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Literature Review Blog #5

1. Visual:
Pictured is John F. Decker, one of the authors of this source.

2. Citation:
Decker, John F., and Peter G. Baroni. ""No" Still Means "YES": The Failure of the "Non-Consent" Reform Movement in American Rape and Sexual Assault Law." The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 101.4 (2011): 1081-169. Print.

3. Summary: This article from The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology focuses on the failure of the "non-consent" reform movement in rape and sexual assault law in America. John F. Decker and Peter G. Baroni both begin with a brief introduction mentioning the Yale fraternity sexist chant, "no means yes, yes means anal," pointing to the fact that there is an issue with consent related to sexual violence in criminal law. This article explores the various definitions of consent depending on the state and how some of the laws and provisions are contradictory; it also gives head to what exactly constitutes a valid rape case as well as where and how the necessary role of consent takes place. The belief that it is proper to touch another person in a sexual manner unless there is a violent response has prompted Decker and Baroni to develop this article. The findings and conclusions are the results of an extensive review of rape and sexual assault laws in our 50 states.

4. Authors: John F. Decker is a professor of law at DePaul University among other schools. He received his BA at the University of Iowa, his JD degree at Creighton, and his JSD at New York University. He has been recognized as Outstanding Teacher by both the College of Law and university. Peter G. Baroni graduated from DePaul University with a BA in history and a minor in English Literature. He then graduated from the Howard University of Law. During law school he acted as summer research interns for law firms, was an assitant state's attorney, and began a law practice among a pile of other impressive law-related things. He is now an adjunct professor at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

5. Key terms:
  • Consent: a concurrence of wills. Express consent is that directly given, either lira voce or in writing. Implied consent is that manifested by signs, actions, or facts, or by inaction or silence, which raise a presumption that the consent has been given. Consent in an act of reason, accompanied with deliberation, the mind weighing as in a balance the good or evil on each side. (
  • Sexist: relating to, involving, or fostering sexismor attitudes and behavior toward someone based on the person's gender. (
  • Forcible compulsion: in relation to sexual offences it means to compel by use of physical force or by threat. Forcible compulsion places a person in fear of immediate or future death, or physical injury to one's self or another person or in fear that the person or another person will immediately or in future be kidnapped.(

  • "'No means yes' was the clarion call that these bright Elis thought totally acceptable until confronted by outraged individuals within the university. Sadly, this event represented only too well the attitude of many American males when it comes to what standards of conduct should govern sexual relations with another" (1082).
  • "The statute defines consent as 'words or overt actions by a person who is competent to give informed consent indicating a freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact.' Some states provide more detailed explanations of what constitutes consent" (1088). 

7. Value: This article from The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology is valuable because it gives this argument legal framework to apply, critique, compare, and/or contrast. It gives us unbiased information about what consent means as well as the idea of force in sexual violence. It is a good academic source because it is purely factual but reveals much about how our legal system works and how sometimes it is not just when it comes to sexual violence and the issue of consent and how that affects the way cases are criminalized if at all.

Research Blog #9: Argument and Counter-Argument

My paper states that the lines between consensual and nonconsensual sexual activity are blurred and more complex than universities and law enforcement treat them. I argue that sexual violence is the foundation for rape culture and rape culture normalizes sexual violence. More specifically, I point to how rape culture has probably shaped Nungesser's actions in the Emma Sulkowicz case at Columbia University as well as men everywhere. I also argue that perhaps unwanted sex is perpetuated by the hookup culture that is also so normalized among college students.

One counter-argument could be that the rape culture theory is not real ( and that, while rape does exist as a problem, the theory does not help victims and instead leads to women creating hostile environments for innocent men. This could also help disprove the idea that Nungesser did commit the nonconsensual sexual act, blaming it on the idea that rape culture theory poisons women's mind, in this case Sulkowicz. There is also the counter-argument that hookup culture does not necessarily lead to sexual violence but does condone sexual freedom and help with gaining and maintaining sexual confidence (, and that Sulkowicz succumbing to the hookup culture actually freed her from entering what could have been a monogamous but potentially abusive, trapping relationship had he continued his alleged habit of forcible sexual assault.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Literature Review Blog #4

1. Visual: 

2. Citation: 
Smith, Merril D. Sex without Consent: Rape and Sexual Coercion in America. New York: New York UP, 2001. Print.

3. Summary: This book explores the meaning of rape as well as the experience and prosecution related. Through this exploration of what rape meant in particular times and places in American history, from interracial encounters due to colonization and slavery to rape on contemporary college campuses, the contributors to this book help us understand the crime and punishment as well as gender roles and sexual politics.

4. Author: Merril D. Smith is the editor of this collection of essays. She is an independent scholar, author, and editor. Merril has a PhD in American History from Temple University and extensive experience in American history with a focus on early American women’s lives and sex and sexuality.

5. Key terms:
  • Sexual coercion: the act of using subtle pressure, drugs, alcohol, or force to have sexual contact with someone against their will. Sexual coercion is ongoing attempts to have sexual contact of some kind with another person who has already made it clear that he or she does not want to have sexual contact. Sexual coercion is the act of being persuaded to have sex (or engage in other sexual activities) when you don't want to. (
  • Sex crimes: criminal offenses of a sexual nature. Commonly known sex crimes include, rape, child molestation, sexual battery, lewd conduct, possession and distribution of child pornography, possession and distribution of obscene material, prostitution, solicitation of prostitution, pimping, pandering, indecent exposure, lewd act with a child, and penetration of the genital or anal region by a foreign Object. (

  • "The perception of women's and men's natures and ideas about their proper roles differs and changes throughout the centuries and places studied here. Women were variously considered "lustful daughters of Eve," pure or asexual creatures, and demure but willing temptresses. Sometimes these notions coexisted at a particular time or depended upon the race, ethnicity, or class of the women involved. Similarly, men might be considered the "protectors" of women, hapless victims caught in their snare, or lust-filled beasts. These ideas about women and men, in turn, colored the perception of rape throughout American history and the formulation of rape laws and prosecutorial procedures" (Introduction)
  • "Besides examining who commits rapes and who is raped, these essays look at where rapes occur... College campuses, whether urban or not, are also the site of many rapes. As Campbell-Ruggaard and Van Ryswyk have documented, the number of campus rapes is greatly under-reported. For one thing, methods of collecting statistics and reporting crimes vary from school to school. In addition, some students feel that the assault was not really a 'crime,' so they do not report it to authorities. As Campbell-Ruggaard and Van Ryswyck note, many college rapists do not even consider themselves to be rapists. They do not believe that they really forced their partners into having sex" (Introduction).

7. Value: This collections of essays would be valuable to my research paper because it gives us a very historical perspective on nonconsensual sex. I believe that in order to understand things, one must look at the history of it. These essays will help get down to the bottom of sexual coercion as well as the politics and punishment of it in order to then look at the cases.

Literature Review Blog #3

1. Visual: 
A collaged photograph called, "Las Animas" by Kiki Smith from 1997, pictured at the top of the web article, "Why Men Rape."

2. Citation: 
Thornhill, Randy, and Craig T. Palmer. "Why Men Rape." The New York Academy of Sciences 40.1 (2000): 30-36. Why Men Rape. The New York Academy of Sciences, Jan. 2000. Web. 09 Mar. 2015. <>.

3. Summary: In this scholarly article, adapted by The Sciences from their book A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion, biologist Randy Thornhill and anthropologist Craig T. Palmer argue that rape is a "natural, biological phenomenon and a product of our evolutionary heritage." They regard rape as an act of sex, not violence. They state that this does not justify rape. They compare rape to natural disasters, claiming that just because something is "natural" does not make it right.

4. Authors: Randy Thornhill is a biologist and distinguished professor at University of Mexico. He has his B.S. in Zoology from Auburn University, M.S. in Entomology from Auburn University, and a Ph.D in Zoology from the University of Michigan. His research interests include human behavioral ecology and evolutionary psychology among other things. His Curriculum Vitae indicates that some of his research-in-progress has to do with the evolution of female sexuality. I really hate the sound of this man, to be honest, but I am sure he is intelligent enough... Craig T. Palmer is an anthropologist and professor at University of Missouri. He earned his PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Arizona State University.  His research focuses on incorporating cultural traditions into evolutionary explanations of human behavior. His publications include co-authored books on religion (The Supernatural and Natural Selection), sexual aggression (The Natural History of Rape), the ecological collapse of the Canadian cod fishery (When the Fish are Gone), and altruism (Kindness, Kinship and Tradition in Newfoundland/Alberta Migration).

5. Key terms:
  • Darwinism: a theory of the origin and perpetuation of new species of animals and plants that offspring of a given organism vary, that natural selection favors the survival of some of these variations over others, that new species have arisen and may continue to arise by these processes, and that widely divergent groups of plants and animals have arisen from the same ancestors. (
  • Natural: existing in nature and not made or caused by people; coming from nature; usual or expected. (
  • "Why do men rape? The quest for the answer to that question has occupied the two of us collectively for more than forty years. As a purely scientific puzzle, the problem is hard enough. But it is further roiled by strong ideological currents. Many social theorists view rape not only as an ugly crime but as a symptom of an unhealthy society, in which men fear and disrespect women. In 1975 the feminist writer Susan Brownmiller asserted that rape is motivated not by lust but by the urge to control and dominate. In the twenty-five years since, Brownmiller. s view has become mainstream. All men feel sexual desire, the theory goes, but not all men rape. Rape is viewed as an unnatural behavior that has nothing to do with sex, and one that has no corollary in the animal world... But social scientists have not convincingly demonstrated that rapists are not at least partly motivated by sexual desire as well. Indeed, how could a rape take place at all without sexual motivation on the part of the rapist? Isn't sexual arousal of the rapist the one common factor in all rapes, including date rapes, rapes of children, rapes of women under anesthetic and even gang rapes committed by soldiers during war?"
  • "As everyone knows all too well, however, sex and the social behaviors that go with it are endlessly complicated. Their mysterious and tangled permutations have inspired flights of literary genius throughout the ages, from Oedipus Rex to Portnoy's Complaint. And a quick perusal of the personal-growth section of any bookstore- past such titles as Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus and You Just Don't Understand- is enough to show that one reason sex is so complicated is that men and women perceive it so differently. Is that the case only because boys and girls receive different messages during their upbringing? Or, as we believe, do those differences between the sexes go deeper? Over vast periods of evolutionary time, men and women have confronted quite different reproductive challenges. Whereas fathers can share the responsibilities of child rearing, they do not have to."
  • "Like most of their male counterparts in the rest of the animal kingdom, human males can reproduce successfully with a minimal expenditure of time and energy; once the brief act of sexual intercourse is completed, their contribution can cease. By contrast, the minimum effort required for a woman to reproduce successfully includes nine months of pregnancy and a painful childbirth. Typically, ancestral females also had to devote themselves to prolonged breast-feeding and many years of child care if they were to ensure the survival of their genes. In short, a man can have many children, with little inconvenience to himself; a woman can have only a few, and with great effort. That difference is the key to understanding the origins of certain important adaptations. features that persist because they were favored by natural selection in the past. Given the low cost in time and energy that mating entails for the male, selection favored males who mated frequently. By contrast, selection favored females who gave careful consideration to their choice of a mate; that way, the high costs of mating for the female would be undertaken under circumstances that were most likely to produce healthy offspring. The result is that men show greater interest than women do in having a variety of sexual partners and in having casual sex without investment or commitment."
7. Value: I do not in any way agree with the theories that Thornhill and Palmer suggest-- in fact, I am quite appalled by their thoughts on the subject. With that said, however, it might contribute to a counter argument or different viewpoint and for that I believe it could be a good reference. I might also disprove some of what they say using my cases and other sources, depending on how deep I want to take this paper.