The Culture of Sexual Assault as Reflected in the 1970s Rape Law Reforms

The Culture of Sexual Assault as Reflected in the 1970s Rape Law Reforms

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Last week, the White House released a short, celebrity packed, 60-second public service announcement (PSA) on the topic of sexual assault. 1 is 2 Many addressed those who are in control of preventing sexual assault as its intended audience was those who can put a stop to sexual violence: the perpetrators or would-be offenders. Although this one minute announcement completed the task of bringing sexual assault to the forefront of discussion, it failed to encompass the central issues concerning the culture of sexual assault: societal misperceptions, the victims, and the justice system. Sexual assault is a phenomenon that has been around for centuries; the culture of sexual assault is rooted in both legal practices and societal perceptions. In order for its reforms to be effective, they need to target both aspects of sexual assault culture, as one factor by itself is not enough to maintain reforms and foster needed change. By evaluating different perspectives on the effectiveness and purpose of the 1970s rape law reforms, it can be better understood how legal and societal conditions have changed or were intended to change. The culture of rape in particular—how it is defined, its victims and its offenders (and how they are perceived by society), myths, and its laws—has been modified throughout the years, peaking during the first wave of legal reforms in the 1970’s. Although these legal and social changes are improvements from past conditions, they can be further developed and advanced to cater to the needs of the victims.
The legal system is flawed and some of its errors are reflected in how courts address sexual assault cases, and more specifically its victims and offenders. The issues are largely rooted in social factors and how c...


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... Krebs, C., Berzofsky, M., & Smiley-McDonald, H. (2013, March ).
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Reddington, F. P., & Kreisel, B. W. (2005). Sexual assault: the victims, the
perpetrators, and the criminal justice system. Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press.

Seidman, I., & Vickers, S. (2005). The Second Wave: An Agenda for the Next Thirty
Years of Rape Law Reform. Suffolk University Law Review, 38, 467-493. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/sufflr38&div=32&g_sent=1&collection=journals#483

Spohn, C. (1999). The Rape Reform Movement: The Traditional Common Law and
Rape Law Reforms. Jurimetrics- American Bar Association, 39(2), 119-130. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/29762593

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