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Title:Proving Rape: Sex, Race, and Representation in Chicago Trials and Society, 1937--1969
Author(s):Flood, Dawn Rae
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Leslie J. Reagan
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Sociology, Criminology and Penology
Abstract:Historically, rape has simultaneously been considered: a "heinous" crime; an "easily made" accusation; a justification for white racial violence against African American men; an act difficult to complete if a woman truly resisted. This project makes known the strategies used to successfully prosecute rapes in mid-twentieth century Chicago. By demonstrating that women who did not fit a white, sexually pure, middle-class stereotype that the public expected of rape victims helped the State prosecute criminals, this dissertation challenges the belief that only particular cases counted as "real rapes." Divorced women, sexually active single women, black women and working-class women all came forward with reports of rape and found support from authorities. Central to the State's rape cases, female victims presented themselves as capable citizens seeking the right to be heard and believed. As the social and trial environments shifted during the 1960s, shielding victims from harsh interrogations gave way to an emphasis on protecting the rights of the accused. Black rape defendants, who had long criticized the Chicago police of discrimination and brutality, found themselves engaged in a series of legal debates about the propriety of investigations. This research reveals how the discourses surrounding crimes of sexual violence encouraged debates about other social concerns, revealing how challenges to racial rape myths inspired new types of civil rights activism in Chicago after World War II. As defendants' rights expanded, victims' rights in the courtroom contracted, curtailing the limited power they previously held as the key witnesses for the State. This shift helped create the hostile environment that modern feminists responded to with efforts to end the "second rape" of women who came forward to report sexual attacks.
Issue Date:2003
Description:292 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3101838
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2003

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