Taking on Helen Reece’s mythologizing…..
New in Print: Joanne Conaghan and Yvette Russell Rape Myths, Law, and Feminist Research: ‘Myths About Myths?’. In: Feminist Legal Studies, Vol. 22, No. 1, 2014. Feminist Legal Studies is available via Springer Link here.
Read the introduction here.
ABSTRACT: In an article recently published in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, the legal scholar Helen Reece argues that the prevalence and effects of rape myths have been overstated and the designation of certain beliefs and attitudes as myths is simply wrong. Feminist researchers, she argues, are engaged ‘in a process of creating myths about myths’ in a way that serves to close down and limit productive debate in this ‘vexed’ area. In this article we argue that Reece’s analysis is methodologically flawed, crudely reductionist and rhetorically unyielding. We locate Reece’s analysis within the wider theoretical field to show how her failure to engage with feminist literature on rape other than in the narrowest, most exclusionary terms, yields an approach which impedes rather than advances public understanding and panders to a kind of simplistic thinking which cannot begin to grapple with the complexity of the phenomenon that is rape. We conclude by emphasizing the continuing commitment of feminist researchers carefully to theorize and (re)map the fraught field of progressive legal strategizing in order to identify and counter the kinds of risks and shortcomings of political activism with which Reece is rightly concerned.
Nov. 28 2013 Davina Cooper “Question Everything? Rape Law & Free Speech” http://criticallegalthinking.com/2013/11/28/question-everything-rape-law-free-speech/
At one level, the conflict concerns how criminal law and procedure treat (and should treat) rape — whether “ordinary” people have a series of beliefs about rape that make them less sympathetic (than they should be) to women victims. At another level, the conflict is about speech — about what speech is, what it does, and our responsibility for its effects. Helen poses the question, why is rape different? But, in the face of “free speech” calls to defend academic freedom and the right to question everything, I want to ask, why is speech different? Is it privileged simply because expression and communication are privileged, or because it represents an exceptional way of expressing opinion or questioning received norms?
Nov. 15 2013 Sarah Keenan and Yvette Russell “Rape is Different: Academic Impact Sinks to New Lows” http://criticallegalthinking.com/2013/11/15/rape-different-academic-impact-sinks-new-lows/
The LSE is a prestigious institution of higher learning whose public debate series purports ‘to position LSEat the centre of debate in all areas of the social sciences… [and] to enhance the School’s reputation for intellectual, challenging ideas and discussion with a broader public audience.’ But far from opening up a cutting edge debate, the social media promotion, public event and media coverage surrounding Reece’s article in fact closes down and severely limits careful, considered and evidenced-based discussion about rape and rape law, almost all of which contradicts Reece’s and Hewson’s claims. These claimsare not new or in any way path-breaking.
Helen Reece http://ifls.osgoode.yorku.ca/2013/06/myths/