Anti-Carceral Feminism and Sexual Assault—A Defense

Social Philosophy Today 34:29-49 (2018)

Authors
Chloe Taylor
Goldsmiths College, University of London
Abstract
Most mainstream feminist anti-rape scholarship and activism may be described as carceral feminism, insofar as it fails to engage with critiques of the criminal punishment system and endorses law-and-order responses to sexual and gendered violence. Mainstream feminist anti-rape scholars and activists often view increased conviction rates and longer sentences as a political goal—or, at the very least, are willing to collaborate with police and lament cases where perpetrators of sexual violence are given “light” or non-custodial sentences. Prison abolitionists, on the other hand, have tended to insist that most lawbreakers are non-violent and that the “dangerous” are “few”, thus avoiding serious engagement with the widespread phenomenon of sexual violence. Despite the prevalence of carceral feminism, to my knowledge no feminist scholar has explicitly embraced this label, and the closest I have found to a defense of carceral feminism is feminist legal scholar Lise Gotell’s “critique of the critique of carceral feminism”. For this reason, it is with Gotell’s article that I primarily engage in defending anti-carceral feminism and prison abolitionism even in the difficult case of sexual assault.
Keywords Conference Proceedings  Social and Political Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 1543-4044
DOI 10.5840/socphiltoday201862656
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