Rape as Colonial Legacy
The Beginning and End of Rape
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/07/2016
Year Published: 2016
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21465
Book review of Sarah Deer's The Beginning and End of Rape.
Deer argues that rape was uncommon in traditional matrilineal Native societies, but that changed with the arrival of Europeans who misconstrued nudity and sexual autonomy for promiscuity and immorality, while in their world it was perfectly moral and legal to murder, rape and displace Native populations.
Early Anglo-American rape law sought to control women and preserve chastity. Women were property to be protected from other men. This approach stands in stark contrast to that of a 1825 Mvoskoke law: "And it be farther enacted that if any person or persons should undertake to force a woman and did it by force, it shall be left to woman she should satisfied with to whip or pay what she say it be law."
It would be another century before women had any say in the laws of the United States, and not until the 1970s and '80s that rape laws were reformed. Even now, there's still a long way to go to make U.S. legal processes survivor-centered.