Hypatia 31 (4):746-761 (2016)

Ann Cahill
Elon College
This article returns to a philosophical conundrum that has troubled feminist theory since the topic of sexual violence has been taken seriously, what I call the problem of the “heteronormative sexual continuum”: how sexual assault and hegemonic heterosex are conceptually and politically related. I continue my response to the work of Nicola Gavey, who has argued for the existence of a “gray area” of sexual interactions that are ethically questionable without rising to the category of sexual assault, but whose analysis did not explicitly articulate what these two categories share or what distinguishes them from each other. After summarizing Gavey's position, I summarize my previous articulation of the common ground between instances of sexual assault and examples of sexual interactions in the “gray area.” I then develop a theoretical account of how the two categories differ, arguing that the victim's agency plays different roles in the two types of interactions. Both the fact of that distinction—that we are capable of providing a philosophical account of the difference between sexual interactions that fall into the gray area and those that constitute sexual assault—and its particular content are crucial for the development of a tenable feminist sexual ethics.
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DOI 10.1111/hypa.12294
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References found in this work BETA

The Sexual Contract.Carole Pateman - 1990 - Ethics 100 (3):658-669.
Sexual Perversion.Thomas Nagel - 1969 - Journal of Philosophy 66 (1):5-17.
Recognition, Desire, and Unjust Sex.Ann J. Cahill - 2014 - Hypatia 29 (2):303-319.
Seduction, Rape, and Coercion.Sarah Conly - 2004 - Ethics 115 (1):96-121.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Bad Sex and Consent.Elise Woodard - forthcoming - In David Boonin (ed.), Handbook of Sexual Ethics. Palgrave.
A Feminist Catholic Response to the Social Sin of Rape Culture.Megan K. McCabe - 2018 - Journal of Religious Ethics 46 (4):635-657.
Feminist Philosophy of Law.Leslie Francis - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Feminist Philosophy of Law.Patricia Smith - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Can a Woman Rape a Man and Why Does It Matter?Natasha McKeever - 2019 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 13 (4):599-619.

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