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“Rape Myth Acceptance in Contemporary Times: A Comparative Study of University Students in India and England” Prof Ravinder Barn

Much of the literature on rape, victim blaming, and rape myth acceptance is focused on the United States, and there is a general dearth of such scholarly activity in other countries. This paper will explore university students’ perspectives in two new country contexts—India and England. A mixed methods approach was utilised. We employed the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale – Short Form (IRMA-SF; McMahon & Farmer, 2011; Payne et al., 1999), together with focus group discussions with both male and female students in a number of universities in London and Delhi. A total of 693 students contributed to the data collection for this study. Rape myth acceptance was fairly low for both countries, however, students in India were more likely to endorse rape myths. Several demographic characteristics were significant for rape myth acceptance in each country. This paper integrates quantitative and qualitative insights to address paucity of knowledge and seeks to promote understandings to help develop country-specific and appropriate policy, practice, and education and awareness programmes. In particular, the study provides novel comparative findings on rape myth acceptance in new country contexts to help advance academic thinking in this area of work.

Bio: Professor Ravinder Barn, Royal Holloway University of London, email: r.barn@rhul.ac.uk


“Here Too Project” Chelsea Bihlmeyer

The #metoo movement has engaged wider audiences in conversations surrounding rape and rape culture. In the context of #metoo, countless stories emerged; this movement has been influential in promoting language and spaces to talk about these experiences.

As the #metoo movement has provided remarkable agency to people to speak publicly about sexual aggression, there are missed opportunities to address wider systems that facilitate these behaviors. Specifically, by focusing on perpetrators, opportunities to address and combat institutional sexism and rape culture have not yet been tapped into. As it stands, the #metoo movement runs the risk of aligning with neoliberal attitudes – reducing larger systems of oppression to the responsibility of the individuals. This project adds to the #metoo movement conversations that have been previously ignored.

Here Too is a community art installation that brings attention to normalized experiences of misogyny, oppression, and toxic masculinity in public spaces. Where #metoo validates the experiences of victims of sexual misconduct, it has privileged white and female bodies and clear cases of rape or assault. Instead of focusing on consequences for perpetrators, Here Too forces viewers to confront experiences and public behaviors that they have seen or even participated in – behaviors that are seen as mundane. Participants in the project anonymously submit stories of sexual aggression, harassment, and other instances in which they were made to feel unwelcome in public spaces to a dropbox on a public website. Pull quotes from these stories are used to create stickers, which will be installed at the location where the story took place. In this way, this project does not aim to arrive at consequences for perpetrators, but instead, is a confrontation of the systemic misogyny that allows #metoo moments to happen.

Bio: Graduate Teaching Assistant and student of Communications at Purdue University – Fort Wayne, Chelsea Bihlmeyer emphasizes her studies in arts-based research. Her main research interests are in feminist issues, modern romance, and creative communication.


“Taking on Campus Rape Culture in Bystander Intervention Training” Johannah May Black

Sexual assault is the most common violent crime reported on college and university campuses in North America (Potter, Fountain, and Stapleton 2012). Researchers have pointed to a “widespread systemic rape culture on Canadian campuses” (Quinlan, Clarke, and Miller 2016, 40). Yet Canadian university administrators have largely chosen to respond to the problem of sexual violence on campus in ways that treat the problem as individual rather than systemic or cultural. For example, bystander intervention training programs address individual students as bystanders giving them tools to intervene into personal encounters that are sexually violent or could become sexually violent. However, they do not provide students with the tools to transform or even question the dominant rape cultures in which they are immersed. The result is that there are students who leave feeling confident in their ability to intervene but still believing in rape myths and thus being unlikely to recognize sexual violence when they see it.

There have been widespread calls from activists, scholars, student organizations, and anti-violence educators for universities to create and adopt prevention education curriculums that openly and directly address rape culture, debunk rape myths, and give students the tools to transform this culture (Gerrits and Runyon 2015; SAFER & V-Day 2013; EVA BC 2016; Quinlan, Clarke, and Miller 2016). This paper will address some of the ways that prevention education programs can use the bystander intervention training model to empower students to question campus rape culture and give them the tools to create social and cultural change. We will focus on a new bystander intervention training model developed in Nova Scotia, Canada that not only equips students to intervene into interpersonal violence, but also as agents of social change into broader rape culture.

Bio: Johannah May Black is the Bystander Program Coordinator at the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Services Association in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. For the past two years she has worked to develop a bystander intervention training curriculum for the universities in Nova Scotia, Canada. In doing so, she has worked with student organizations, faculty and university administrators to insure that the training is one equips students with the tools to address and challenge campus rape culture. Johannah is also a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at York University in Toronto with a specialization in women and politics.


“Rape Culture in Internet Humour” Maja Brandt Andreasen

When the #MeToo campaign was launched in October 2017 a backlash soon followed on social media sites where users uploaded memes about #MeToo, Harvey Weinstein and other perpetrators. Some of these social media sites explicitly encourage users to upload humorous content and this paper explores how rape is discursively constructed within these humorous online spaces.

Drawing on some of the findings from my PhD project this paper explores the memes uploaded to three social media sites commenting on the #MeToo movement. The paper considers how rape culture flourishes in digital spaces under the guise of humour. On these social media sites violent, hurtful and harmful language use is often excused as “just a joke”. This paper however, aims to take humour seriously in arguing that language use – humorous or not – creates and reflects the world we live in.

The paper argues for a feminist theoretical investigation of Internet humour which produces, reproduces and perpetuates rape culture. This includes a consideration of how victim-blaming and slut-shaming is reproduced within humorous discursive spaces online.

Bio: Maja Brandt Andreasen is an AHRC- funded PhD student in feminist media studies at the University of Strathclyde. Her research project investigates rape discourse in humorous Internet memes about the #MeToo movement.


“Does Adherence to Traditional Sexual Scripts and Rape Myth Acceptance Influence the Understanding and Communication of Consent in an Irish Emerging Adulthood Population?” Elaine Byrnes

Levels of acceptance of rape myths are potential influences on the communication of consent, that arise from peer and societal factors. As reported by “Not Alone”, the 2014 White House Task Force on Sexual Violence strategy for protecting students from sexual assault, social norms research has revealed that, in heteronormative situations, men often misperceive what other men think about sexual violence. They tend to overestimate peer acceptance of sexual assault and underestimate other men’s willingness to intervene when a woman is in trouble (Berkowitz, 2010). Edwards and Vogel (2015) report a significant interaction between young men’s perceptions of the sexual intentions of women, and exposure to norms regarding the acceptability of sexual coercion.

An account of sexual activity (including prevalence and incidence of assault and alcohol related consequences) will be presented using findings from the Sexual Health and Attitudes Galway (SHAG) survey and follow up qualitative interviews with students at NUI, Galway. This research was undertaken in NUI Galway between 2015 and 2017 – the first of its kind in Ireland.

The interplay of gender and sexual scripts as well as the influence of social norms regarding Rape Myths Acceptance will be examined from both quantitative and qualitative data analysis.

Scripts are ingrained in the structures and institutions of society that contribute to their formation. Societally, sexual scripts are invariably heteronormative and provide a cognitive framework to understand roles and expectations for each gender in sexual encounters. The extent to which each gender adheres to what is understood as the “traditional” sexual script for heteronormative encounters, in which the male is the initiator, the female passive will also be examined and challenged.

Bio: Elaine Byrnes, BSc., MSc., MBPS, MPsI, is a Doctoral Researcher at the School of Psychology, NUI, Galway. Her research areas of interest are in sexual behaviour, particularly in the negotiation of consent; and how this may be mediated by gender and drugs such as alcohol in young people. She co-lead the development of Smart Consent Workshops, and has been a facilitator of these workshops both at NUI, Galway and other institutions throughout Ireland. Her work on Smart Consent lead to a nomination for the Outstanding Contribution to Student Life Award by the USI (Union of Students in Ireland), 2016. She is an academic member of the Scoping Group established by the Minister for Justice to consider the availability of data and make recommendations on a study to identify the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence in Ireland today and emerging trends.


“Exploring ‘Rape Culture’ within the Humanitarian Sector” Elizabeth Carthy

Sexual exploitation and abuse of vulnerable populations by aid workers, is not a new problem and has been reported in humanitarian contexts, from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Somalia, from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Sierra Leone. However, the issue has faded in and out of public consciousness. The recent allegations of sexual misconduct by Oxfam staff in Haiti brought this issue to public attention again.

The other side of sexual misconduct and violence in the humanitarian sector is sexual harassment and abuse perpetrated against aid workers by aid workers. The #MeToo movement has extended to the humanitarian sector, leading to #AidToo. It has increased awareness both within and outside the sector of the ongoing problems of sexual misconduct and violence.

This paper examines the extent to which a “rape culture” exists and is perpetuated within the humanitarian sector and the influence of mediatisation of sexual misconduct scandals on the sector and culture. To this end, the paper analyzes the problems of sexual misconduct and violence in the humanitarian sector, public scandals, and corresponding responses or the lack thereof.

Bio: Elizabeth Carthy is a PhD researcher with the Centre for Humanitarian Action. She is investigating how to increase individual and organisational accountability for sexual exploitation and abuse committed by aid workers in humanitarian contexts. She is also providing research assistance and lecturing at the International Summer School on Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies (IS GBViE). Her research interests include access to justice, accountability in humanitarian action, gender-based violence, and public international law. She has worked with legal and women’s rights non-governmental organisations’ on access to justice and gender-based violence progammes in Haiti, Kenya, Somalia, and South Africa. She has also worked on refugee rights projects in France, Israel, and the United States. She holds a Bachelor of Civil Law with French Law (BCL) from University College Dublin and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) from Harvard Law School. She is also admitted to practice law in New York State.


“Baby It’s Rape Culture: Gender Bias in Baby Board Books” Noreen Cauley

Understanding rape culture and misogyny have long been a topic of significant interest and study in feminist theory and analysis. While feminist thought has underscored the importance media and literature play in normalizing rape culture, these analyses have not adequately addressed the role early exposure to sexism, racism, and homophobia play in perpetuating the systems that enable rape culture. My paper addresses the ways in which gender representations reinforce and reproduce gendered systems of oppression and dictate who has value in a culture. Specifically, my paper examines the prevalence of gender, racial, and heteronormative bias in baby board books (BBB). I spoke with parents/guardians of babies and children, and a children’s librarian to ascertain if this issue is of concern to parents/guardians/librarians in their purchase and/or selection of BBB reading material. Additionally, I used feminist content analysis to examine a sample of ninety BBBs from three different libraries, one personal library and two public libraries. I divided the BBB samples into two categories, and analyzed both for gender representation, racial representation, and the types of families represented (heteronormativity). I argue that gender is socially constructed and that BBBs serve as both an indicator and a method by which we recruit, reproduce, and legitimize gender oppression. By closely examining BBBs and juxtaposing them against studies of children’s literature, gender roles, heteronormative performance and homophobia, I shed new light on the symbolic annihilation of entire groups of people in BBBs and how this lays the groundwork for the acceptance of misogyny, homophobia, and racism as cultural norms/practices.

Bio: Noreen Cauley is currently a MES candidate at the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. Her research examines sexual violence in relation to the human animal disconnect from nature, and connects this lack with the prevalence of sexual violence in Western culture. Noreen also examines the broader effects of sexual violence, including but not limited to the intergenerational aspects of trauma. Through the use of narrative- and arts-based based research, she explores the challenges involved in healing from trauma in a culture where misogyny is deeply ingrained. Further, she uses a feminist lens to comment on the nature of sexual trauma, in addition to the culture of trauma that allows tremendous violence and a de-valuing of anything perceived as “feminine” within a hierarchical gender binary. Her feminism eschews an essentialist view of gender and nature, and instead recognizes the parallels between sexual (“feminized”) violence, Western cultures treatment of non-animals, and the destruction of the environment.


“gender minorities and narratives of violence in the #metoo era” river champion

i would like to propose a presentation entitled “gender minorities and narratives of violence in the #metoo era” for your conference. the paper will loook at the ways the #metoo movement has struggled to remain intersectional and what the impact on gender minorities is of a preponderance of narratives that remain on the logic of the gender binary. there will be specific focus on [the challenging of rose mcgowan by a trans-feminist at a book signing in late january (http://transadvocate.com/when-metoo-celebrities-fail-trans-women_n_21766.htm) and the results of an informal survey of gender minorities conducted through snow ball sampling through the local community.

Bio: i recently presented a paper for the CGFS “thinking gender justice” conference entitled “kitchen portraits: representing the impact of state violence on gender minorities” ( https://youtu.be/—lT_5RVmw ) and also had my article “do gender minorities belong in the military?” looking at the tensions between the interests of trans feminists and the binary narratives of violence national militaries use to give themselves political legitimacy ( http://www.e-ir.info/2018/05/14/do-gender-minorities-belong-in-the-military/ ). current projects include but are not limited to running the bodily autonomy focused exhibition which has intersectional and emancipatory goals ( https://www.facebook.com/bodybattleground/ ).


“Creating Cultures of Consent. Feminist Negotiations of Institutional Sexual Violence Prevention Strategies” Dr Marian Duggan and Dr Sinéad Ring

In this paper we reflect on our work in a UK university to have sexual violence among/towards students recognised, responded to and reduced. Over the past three years, we have sought to embed a feminist approach to designing and developing University policies and practices in relation to sexual violence, where previously there was little to no resources available. While a wider national and international recognition of the nature and harms of sexual violence against students has prompted universities to address their (lack of) provision to student victims and to student perpetrators, there is a need to ensure that such measures are not merely tokenistic exercises. Our involvement in these initiatives has been driven by an explicitly feminist ethos to effect a meaningful change with respect to individual, institutional and socio-cultural attitudes towards all forms of sexual violence, and to deepen understanding of the connections between sexual violence and other forms of domestic violence against students.  Drawing on the range of initiatives adopted and challenges faced, we explore the inherent tensions evident when navigating issues of gender, harm, risk and responsibility as we seek to engage with the neoliberal academy.  We focus in particular on how we have sought to go beyond consent education, to raise students’ consciousness about the nature of rape culture and how they can effectively take responsibility in their everyday lives for dismantling it.

Bio: Dr Marian Duggan is a lecturer in criminology at the School for Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at the University of Kent. She convenes the gender, crime and victimisation modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as the Inside-Out Prison module.  She is also the Director of Studies for the MA in Research Methods, and the Kent Coordinator for the Common Studies in Critical Criminology programme. Her research interests focus on informing policy and practice to reduce sexual, gendered and hate-based victimisation. She has published widely in these areas, using her engagement with the statutory and third sectors to inform her teaching and scholarly practice.

Dr Sinéad Ring is a senior lecturer in law at Kent Law School. She is the lead author (with Kim Stevenson and Kate Gleeson) of Legal Responses to Historical Child Sexual Abuse (Routledge, forthcoming, 2019). She has published widely on the evidential, procedural and normative implications of criminal prosecutions for historical child sexual abuse. She is currently a Co-Director of Graduate Studies and she convenes courses in evidence, and law and literature.


“Which witch hunt? Casting out misogynist inquisitions: Feminist incantation dispelling new rape cultures.” Dee Dooley and Jane Gavin-Hebert 

Leniency and humanity are afforded to male perpetrators of sexualized violence, witnessed routinely through the frequency and duration of conviction and sentencing, defence arguments and denial of guilt, as well as the allocation of specialized resources and supports in the community and legal systems. However, when the perpetrator does not conform the normalized narrative of cisgender, heterosexual male dominance, a different response from state and media agencies is observed. The naturalization of male invasion and the criminalization of women and trans bodies, and the upholding of misogyny, trans misogyny and male impunity, is fortified in this response. Women and trans people accused of sexual perpetration are dehumanized, monstrosized, ostracized, and unhesitatingly presumed guilty. Male perpetrators are not vilified, rather they are victimized through the sociological imagination that positions them as targets of vigilantism, feminist irrationality, and, ironically, witch hunts. The historic ritual of male violence against bodies deviating from gendered expectations of subjugation is embodied through the ongoing use of the appropriated term “witch hunt”.  Placing “witch hunt” in historical perspective, with similarly constructed fears of “feminist lynch mob” and “vigilante”, this paper exposes gendered contradictions in responses to sexual perpetration and victimization by highlighting key examples of manipulative strategies used to frame offenders as victims. The ways in which survivors, feminists, and their accomplices experience the hunt and the harm is exemplified through the entanglement of media and legal scrutiny and conviction of victims. Feminist praxis disrupts patterns of misogyny, trans misogyny, and male impunity in dominant narratives of sexual violence through cultural production and grassroots resistance. This paper will highlight community-based initiatives and responses to male power, privilege, and entitlement, and make recommendations to facilitate collective healing and reconciliation.

Bios: Dee Dooley – Dee Dooley is a feminist, socio-legal research and community development facilitator. She is currently working as the Coordinator of Prevention, Intervention, and Awareness at Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax, NS, Canada. She has twelve years of experience with victim advocacy programming for women, youth, and LGBTQ populations who have experienced violence. Dee holds degrees in sociology, gender studies, and criminology where her research focused of the criminalization of women survivors of intimate partner violence and she is passionate about feminist leadership as a tool of social change.

Jane Gavin-Hebert – Jane Gavin-Hebert is a trauma therapist at Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax, NS, Canada and sessional faculty in Sociology, Criminology and Social Work at local universities. She has been working in harm reduction and trauma-informed services since the late 90s and is inspired by feminist pedagogy and praxis. Jane holds graduate degrees in Women and Gender Studies and Social Work.


“Exploring and Breaching the Solitude: Solidarity Against Sexual Violence in Academia” Tamar Hager and Adi Moreno

Sexual violence in academia is currently winning public and political attention following the MeToo# and Timesup # campaigns. Yet research on sexual offenses in higher education institutions is still partial and consequently the ability to apply effective preventive measures is limited (Jacobson et.al, 2014). In this paper we propose exploring sexual violence as a structural phenomenon which does not only harm its primary victims but also has grave social, environmental and ethical implications for the institution and for the entire academic community.

Existing research in the UK and the US shows that one female student out of two becomes a victim of sexual violence during her studies (see for example Huerta et. Al 2006 and Jordan et al, 2014). Yet members of the community tend to ignore, and refrain from reporting or talking about acts of sexual violence occurring in their vicinity. Silence means lack of strategies of female empowerment (most of the victims are still women), absence of solidarity with the victims, scarcity of official complaints, lack of sanctions against offenders and deficiency of creative responses to replace ineffective legal solutions. In such a climate, it is no wonder that the victim’s self-acceptance of sexual abuse is common (Vidu Afloarei, 2017)

The problem intensifies since many aggressors are university professors who could use their immense institutional power to damage the lives and careers of their victims if and when they file an official complaint.  Second order victims – men and women who advise, support and rule in favor of the victims –often suffer retaliation, reprisals and defamation from the aggressors and/or their supporters (Dziech and Weiner, 1990). These upheavals shake and upset the academic institution, turning it into an unsafe and frightening space. In such an atmosphere it is very hard to create effective action against sexual transgressions and crimes.

In Israeli academia, worldwide neoliberal policies, the occupation and the militarization of civil society contribute to the normalization of all types of violence, making them almost transparent. This makes resisting sexual violence even more difficult. Primary and second order victims who recount the personal and institutional impact of sexual offenses, report how the normalization and transparency of sexual abuse make any opposition personally and professionally risky, leading to their isolation and abandonment by friends and colleagues. Our paper describes and analyzes this phenomenon, attempting to suggest effective measures for struggling  against this institutional exclusion by developing strategies of care (Gilligan, 2013) and solidarity (Bartky, 2002) in order to create  a just and supportive community.

Bio Dr. Tamar Hager is the head of the Social Education and Leadership Program and also teaches in the Gender Studies Program at Tel Hai College, Israel. She is a member of the “Stop sexual violence in academia ” task force of the Israeli organization “Academics for Equality”. Activism, critical feminist methodology, dialogue, multiculturalism, feminist pedagogy and motherhood are core issues of her research and writing. In 2000, she published a book of short stories A Perfectly Ordinary Life (in Hebrew) and in 2012 Malice Aforethought (in Hebrew), which reconstructs the elusive biographies of two English working class mothers who killed their babies at the end of the nineteenth century. She is also a co-editor of Bad Mothers: Regulations, Representations and Resistance (2017). Adi Moreno is a post-doctoral fellow at the Sociology department of Tel-Aviv University, Israel and a member of the “Stop sexual violence in academia ” task force of “Academics for Equality”. Her PhD dissertation, “crossing borders: remaking gay fatherhood” was written as the University of Manchester, under the supervision of Prof. Brian Heaphy and Dr. Vanessa May. She also hold an MA in Sociology and Anthropology from Tel-Aviv University. Her recent publications include ““Quiet, Dependent, Nice and Loyal”: Surrogacy agencies discourse of international surrogacy” published at “Bioethics and Biopolitics in Israel” and an edited collection “Intimate Economies: Bodies, Emotions, and Sexualities on the Global Market” that was co-edited with dr. Susanne Hofmann. She is currently working on a research project that analyzes gender relations at the aftermath of the disintegration of the Kibbutz – a communal, egalitarian communities in Israel.


 Victim Blaming, Male Entitlement, Shame, and How They Contribute to Rape Culture in Ireland” Hazel Katherine Larkin 

Like any culture, rape culture is not just one thing – it is a(n unfortunate) collection of things. Three of these elements are victim blaming, male entitlement, and shame. The latter foisted on the shoulders of the victim, not the perpetrator.

While absolutely accepting that women can also be sexual abusers of males and females; and males can be sexually abused by men and women, this paper is focused on female victims of male sexual violence. This is due to the fact that the overwhelming number of acts of sexual violence are perpetrated by males, with female victims.

From a hermeneutical phenomenological feminist perspective, this paper will unpack the three named elements; explaining how each of these contributes to the overall culture. The confluence of these three attributes with specific regard to how they affect the Irish social landscape, will also be addressed. Finally, and crucially, suggestions on how we can tackle, and combat, each of these issues at a societal level will be explored.

The paper will also speak to both the academic research, and the author’s personal experience; as a practical demonstration in how overcoming shame is an essential part of release from the violence of sexual abuse.

Bio: Hazel Katherine Larkin holds a BA(Hons) in Psychology & Sociology; an MA in Sexuality Studies; an LLM in International Human Rights Law (QUB); and is currently a PhD candidate at DCU. The focus of her research is the transmission of vulnerability, with specific regard to transgenerational trauma and child sexual abuse. She presented four papers as part of a series of ten seminars at TCD last year on the subject of child sexual abuse – where she spoke from her perspective as an academic, and an expert by experience. Most recently, she presented a lecture to medical students in TCD on the long-term effects of child sexual abuseHazel is a spokesperson, and Head of Communications, for AASVI (Action Against Sexual Violence, Ireland), which was set up in the aftermath of the Belfast Rape Trial. She also runs workshops for birth workers in trauma-informed care for women who have survived sexual abuse. Her memoir, Gullible Travels, was published in 2015.


“Title TBC” Razan Ghazzawi

Abstract TBC


“‘Despite everything you think you’re not entitled to my body’: A Cross-generational Analysis of the Subjectivity of Appropriate Behaviour Between the Sexes” Sorcha  Lavelle Walsh

A moral panic, regarding the inappropriate behavioural practices of men in powerful positions, is of central concern in contemporary society. I conducted a study which was situated in the eye of this socio-political storm that took hold following the ‘Weinstein Wave’ and the ripple effects that stirred Western societies’ assumptions of gender equality. How equal could we have been if the epidemic of inappropriate behaviour in the forms of sexual harassment and assault had become normalised, accepted, and most disturbingly, commonplace?

Throughout the data collection process, this newfound societal scrutiny on abuse of male power was addressed in my research, by dissecting the subjectivity of appropriate behaviour. Furthermore, based on semi-structured interviews across two generations of Irish men and women, I gained an insight into the embedded nature of gender roles in the participants’ interpretations of appropriate and inappropriate behavioural practices. The most significant finding of this research was that liberal feminism, that pursues formal equality between men and women, is succeeding. However, by overlooking the radical feminists’ standpoint on the patriarchal social order, women are still inherently unequal and continually oppressed by the sexualisation of their bodies. One of the more disturbing notions, shared by a number of participants across the two generations, was that sexual assault, most notably in the form of groping, had become commonplace and a degree of desensitisation was emerging both in victims and perpetrators. This research validates the theoretical perspective that the sexualisation of the female body is a tool for their oppression, as the prevalence of inappropriate behaviour, in the form of sexual harassment and sexual assault, is traced back to the normative masculine claim on entitlement, which manifests itself in the form of entitlement to the female body, in contemporary society.

Bio: Sorcha Lavelle Walsh has recently completed her undergraduate at Trinity College Dublin in Sociology and French. Her final year dissertation focused on the topic of inappropriate behavioural practices, drawing on sociological theories of gender power, feminism, and masculinities. Sorcha hopes to continue in the area of gender studies in the future and expand upon the primary findings of her dissertation on a broader scale, including the themes of male entitlement, desensitisation to sexual assault and harassment, and a notable societal clash between an ever-developing feminist agenda and the continuation of the hyper sexualisation of women in mainstream society.


“Sex Industry and New Technologies – The Sex Robots are coming” Christina Maraboutaki 

From Pygmalion’s myth (Metamorphoses, 8 AD) to classical novels (Frankenstein, 1816) and from children’s literature (Pinocchio, 1883) to science fiction cinema (Blade Runner, 1982), the leitmotiv of turn-into-life machines that fulfill (or betray) humans’ desires has been widely present. As virtual reality, artificial intelligence and robotics improve, the sex industry invests in anthropomorphic machines that promise to provide sexual gratification. The first functioning sex robots are being produced at the moment and their distribution is about to begin. The industry is still at a primary stage and, for the time being, the robots look more like sophisticated dolls rather than interactive machines. So far, they are able to repeat the users’ words and answer to simple pre-programmed questions while blinking and smiling. The level of personalised service is quite promising since the robot’s face and hair are removable. The user can also switch through an app the voice, the accent and the personality of the robots. Overall, their big lips, over-sized breasts, empty gaze and cliché answers are supposed to imitate female features. A series of questions are raised in this context, regarding the feminization of technology, the sexualisation of robots and the commodification of sexuality. This paper aims to analyse the sex industry’s appropriation of robotics and artificial intelligence technology, mainly through the exploration of the gender and sexual implications of related products. More particularly, this study wishes to deconstruct the myths that portrait the sex robots as a possible or partial solution to prostitution and sex crimes and to examine the re-construction of the notion of consent within this framework.

Bio: Christina Maraboutaki is an attorney-at-law, member of the Athens Bar Association. She holds an MA in ‘Political Science and Sociology’ from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and an MSc in ‘Gender, Sexuality and Society’ from the Birkbeck University of London where she conducted a research on gendered and sexualised violence. Christina is currently a PhD candidate at the Sapienza University of Rome where she undertakes a project on gender representation in the field of technological innovations.


‘Girls are the worst’ – the Weaponization of the Female Gaze Online” Mary McGill

A critical element of feminist theorizing on rape culture is the role of the male gaze. On screen and across Western culture’s visual sphere, ‘woman’ as a sign still denotes what Laura Mulvey (1975) famously termed ‘to-be-looked-at-ness’.  While the male gaze concept remains foundational and useful, digital technologies herald new ‘ways of seeing’ (Berger 1972) which demand careful scholarly attention. In a postfeminist landscape, with a politicised feminism on the rise and digital technologies remaking public and private life, this paper explores new directions for feminist gaze theory. Drawing on insights from the emergent field of feminist surveillance studies and the author’s empirical work on young women’s personal accounts of selfie-practices, this paper will reflect on the role of a hypercritical female gaze in online contexts. This gaze draws its power from its ability, enabled by digital technologies, to survey and judge to a forensic degree the feminine performativity of self and peers. It will explore how these systems of mutual surveillance function to reassert rather than suspend or challenge traditional notions of femininity, reinforcing troubling norms of objectification under the guise of postfeminist visibilites.

Bio: Currently I am a Hardiman scholar at NUIG. My PhD research explores young women’s engagement with the selfie phenomenon. I also work as freelance journalist with a focus on gender and women’s issues and I lecture on the Feminist and Gender Theorising module of the MA in Gender, Globalisation and Rights. Completing the MA has been invaluable to me in so many ways, both professionally and personally and as an activist. Most of all it has given me the intellectual and practical skills that have enabled me, as an academic and journalist, to work on issues I feel passionately about and to bring those issues and ideas to a broad audience. It is hard to settle on one thing but if I have to pick, it is learning to situate and appreciate the work of contemporary Women’s Studies within the long, rich history of the worldwide struggle for women’s rights.


“‘You must give your man what is rightfully his’: How Black married women make sense of sexual violence in their intimate relationships in South Africa” Memory Mphaphuli

It is now widely acknowledged that the most widespread forms of sexual violence and sexual coercion experienced by women occur within their intimate sexual partnerships, specifically heterosexual couplings. Undie (2011:522) laments that, “as we now know, marriage is no longer necessarily a sanctuary of sexual safety … marital sex in Africa is now increasingly acknowledged as amounting to risky sex”. However very little is known about how married women in particular, understand and interpret sexual violence, in their own marriages.  As such this presentation draws on narrative interview data of 23 black married women aged between 40-62 years. In this research sexual violence was positioned within the broader sexual cultures of South Africa and explored through the complexity of its connections to gender-related norms, the practice of paying ilobola, women’s increasing economic autonomy and the circulation of new rights discourses in contemporary South Africa.

I argue that married women despite knowing what rape, sexual coercion are, they continue to view violent sexual acts as part and parcel of normal sexual relationships. This however does not mean that sex is always ‘forced’, rather that some form of force every now and then is acceptable and tolerated, especially if this will ensure that the husband will remain faithful to his wife, particularly in a context where concurrent multiple partnerships were common place. Moreover, a woman who has had ilobola paid for her when she was getting married, believes that her husband has every right to demand sex from her and that her body, especially her vagina belongs to him at all times. Thus, from this perspective the acceptance and tolerance of sexual violence by married women can be seen as a lens through which to study the complex workings of the gender order and sexual politics in contemporary settings.

Bio: My name is Memory Mphaphuli. I am currently a PhD student at Ghent University, Belgium in the Department of Sociology. My research critically questions the social construction of heterosexuality within black South African families and aims to simultaneously challenge recurring stereotypes of black bodies and sexualities.


“Re-Membering The Other” Jenny Moran

My paper, entitled “Re-Membering the Other,” proposes a new theorisation of the processes of constructing the Other through new forms of representation made possible in the digital age. I examine the problematics of embodying AI through new technology when the process of designing such embodiments is influenced by discourses of power and knowledge. Adapting Edward Said’s theories of the representation of the Other in order to adequately address these new possibilities of representation, I primarily analyse True Companion and their construction of the “sex bot” Roxxxy, as a case study. I argue that the “personalities” which Roxxxy is programed to perform (named: Wild Wendy, S&M Susan, Mature Martha, Young Yoko and Frigid Farrah) reproduce rape culture according to imperial narratives and gendered power relations. While the Wendy, Susan, and Martha “personalities” can readily consent to sex, Yoko must be convinced by the user, and Farah is programed to beg the user to stop. The interactions with these “bots” therefore reproduce the discourses that influence the designers to program the Yoko and Farrah “personalities” as simulators for rape. I contextualise this in relation to the unique three-fold convergence of sexual, commodity, and stranger fetishism articulated by this particular embodied AI. Following this analysis, it is my argument that the regulatory ideal of sex in the Foucauldian sense is employed by the user who recognises discourses of power through their interactions with this physically re-membered and fetishised representation of the Other. I propose it is therefore necessary for scholars to theorise such interactions in order to conceive of the operations of white-supremacist cishereopatriarchal capitalism as they adapt to the digital age.

Bio:  Jenny co-founded nemesis, Trinity’s feminist journal, in 2016. She is currently reading for her MA in Postcolonial Studies at SOAS, University of London. This piece is part of her wider dissertation.


Between Silence and Enunciation. Representations of Sexual Violence Against Women in Latin America and South Africa.” Ana Nenadovic

Sexual violence, the fear of assaults and the silence evolving around this form of aggression has been determining women’s lives for centuries. While it may seem that through social movements as Me Too or Ni Una Menos/Nem Uma A Menos, societies all over the world have been forced to acknowledge the omnipresence of sexual violence, there remains a disparity in access to breaking silences and claiming one’s voice, both in the Global South and the Global North.

This contribution focuses on the representations of sexual violence against women in 21st century novels from Mexico, Brazil and South Africa through a feminist and postcolonial perspective. It aims to read rape not as an allegory of a territory’s or nation’s violation but to analyse the different subjectivities of female characters who suffer from sexual violence as well as the subjects of enunciation in Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 (2004), Cristina Rivera Garza’s Nadie me verá llorar (No One Will See Me Cry) (1999), Adriana Lisboa’s Sinfonia em branco (Symphony in White) (2001), Zoë Wicomb’s David’s Story (2000) and Zakes Mda’s The Madonna of Excelsior (2002). In these novels, the representations of rape and other forms of sexual violence range from implicit to explicit depictions of the women’s agonies, and the female victims’ places of enunciation vary, too, from “speaking bodies” to “enunciating silence”. Special attention is given to the unequal possibilities of enunciation for white and non-white women, resulting from colonialism’s hierarchical structures based on racist assumptions.

Bio: Ana Nenadovic is a doctoral fellow in literary studies at the Institute for Latin American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin. Her research and teaching focus on gender studies and postcolonial studies, her main regions of interest are the Caribbean, Brazil and Southern Africa.


“Feminist Critique as Emotion Work: On The Challenges of Theorizing Sexualized Violence Prevention ” Kascindra Ida Sadie Shewan

There are affective, ethical, and methodological difficulties of being a person who has experienced sexualized violence that also theorizes sexualized violence. Being one such person, I am both intrigued and troubled by the impetus in feminist works on sexualized violence to ‘confess’ one’s relation to or ‘explain’ one’s reasons for studying such a difficult topic (Ahmed 2017; Alcoff 2018; Bourke 2007; Brison 2003; Cahill 2001; Estrich 1987; Warshaw 1988). Specifically, I wonder: what does the disclosure of one’s personal experience of sexualized violence ‘do’ for or to one’s academic work on sexualized violence? Does disclosure lend ‘credibility’ to one’s work? Might disclosure facilitate a kind of connection between author and reader, a connection that has that potential to generate new insights in relation to sexualized violence? Or, perhaps more pessimistically, might disclosure function as a means hindering (the supposed) unbias stance of a theoretician? Careful to avoid a prescriptive position, I respond to these questions by focusing on and arguing for a recognition of the import of emotions to intellectual labour on sexualized violence. Drawing upon my own experiences in conjunction with those of other feminist theorists, I term the process of tarrying with one’s experiences of sexualized violence alongside one’s research on sexualized violence ‘emotion work’ following Dickson-Swift et al.’s reconceptualization of Arlie Hochschild’s idea of emotional labour. Attentive to the potential of disclosure and emotion work to function as a potential alibi for reflecting upon one’s positionality (Million 55 – i.e. my racial, gender or sexuality-based privileges), I nevertheless posit that the emotion work involves a negotiation of personal experience/feeling in relation to broader sociocultural factors that mediate how one experiences being a person who has experienced sexualized violence. In this sense, I ultimately suggest that feminist work on sexualized violence can, and perhaps in some cases should, involve a consideration of one’s personal experiences, but one that does not necessarily have to be explicit in one’s work (i.e. written disclosure), but rather implicit in the reflexivity (i.e. recognition of counter-arguments and their affective difficulty) of one’s approach to a topic.

Bio: Kascindra is a 5th PhD Candidate in the department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada). Her dissertation, titled Traversing the Limits of Discourses of Citizenship in Sexualized Violence Prevention Strategies, investigates how feminist consent-based and ‘fighting’ approaches to sexualized violence prevention are problematically entangled with neoliberal discourses of ideal Canadian citizenship. Kascie’s research interests include: feminist theory, sexualized violence, neoliberal governmentality, and art as a means of testimony to gendered trauma.