Claiming Citizenship Under Neoliberalism: Rape, the State, and Victim Discourse
Vandenbark, Hilary A.
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Victims of sexual violence must face damaging and victim-blaming discourses in their search for justice through the state. How courts deploy certain discourses have significant and concrete implications for the citizenship of victims. I argue that the dynamic interaction between the state and the feminist anti-violence movement generates a complex cultural narrative of gender, violence, justice, and citizenship. The neoliberal rhetoric of personal responsibility promotes victim blaming and therefore has significant implications for the citizenship of sexual assault victims that renders them unintelligible to the state. In order to discover the effects of feminist anti-rape activism and neoliberalism, I bring together current scholarship on sexual violence, citizenship, the state, and neoliberalism with my own data and critical discourse analysis of 127 appellate cases in New York state from 1970-2010 as well as national coverage of sexual assault to illustrate how the state, the court system, the media, and feminists deploy and challenge discourses of victimization that negatively affect a victim’s standing in court.