We Fail to Know and Understand Rape: An Epistemic Account of Rape Culture

    • Lucca November 2016
    • Presentation speakers
      • Orsolya Csaszar, University of Guelph, Canada


    Sexual violence, including rape, is an epidemic. However, there are substantial conceptual lacunae surrounding the phenomenon. These conceptual lacunae impede efforts preventing future occurrences of rape. These conceptual lacunae also impede efforts supporting survivor and victim recovery. In the following paper, I draw upon the work of prominent Canadian feminist epistemologist Lorraine Code in order to argue that (1) we fail to know and understand rape, and, (2) the social imaginary is a fruitful site for transforming rape culture. Appealing to Code, I articulate a set of traditional dominant mainstream epistemological assumptions. I argue why these assumptions are problematic and what can be done to identify, challenge, and revise them. I also sketch out a set of revisionary feminist epistemological values. In practicing researcher-reflexivity, I briefly appeal to my personal experiences regarding an attempted rape in order to illustrate salient points in Code’s work.