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University College Dublin

Stillorgan Road

Belfield

Ireland

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Understanding New Rape Cultures

Thursday 13th - Friday 14th September 2018,

Seminar Room, Humanities Institute,

University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.

Keynote speaker Pr. Debbie Ging.

Miriam Webster may have identified “feminism” as its coveted Word of the Year, but there is another term that garnered renewed interest in 2017: rape culture. The outrage and shock that the notorious Harvey Weinstein accusations brought with them not only revived discussions around the term “rape culture”; it brought with it a host of further accusations and a new legitimacy to the statements that anti-rape activists and theorists first made back in the 1970s.

Second Wave feminists, specifically those associated with the anti-rape movement of the time, first theorised Western, heteronormative culture as structured by sexual aggression and assault, violence against women, and misogyny and rape. Texts such as the New York Radical Feminist’s Rape: The First Sourcebook for Women (1974) and Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will (1975) first highlighted this normalising of rape and its supportive structures. Others followed suit, from Marta Burt’s study of rape myths (1980) and Mary Koss’s 1 in 4 women report (1989) to more racially and historically aware responses from bell hooks (1982) and Angela Davis (1981).

In this contemporary setting following the emerging responses to the multiple and troubling allegations against Harvey Weinstein, to the abuse of authority and power by men such as Roy Moore, Bill Cosby and Kevin Spacey, to the powerful narratives and truths brought forward by celebrity figures such as Jennifer Lawrence and Terry Crews and the broader community of victims and survivors through the digital campaign #metoo, we are left to ask: what does rape culture now mean? Has it been redefined? Has it changed? Or is it simply the same as it’s always been, only more mediatised? And where does Ireland fit into this context, what with the national response to the Belfast Rape Trial and vast calls for changes in both legal doctrine and sex education emerging as a result?

This one-day conference aims to reassess how changes in our communicative landscape – consistently advancing and invasive technologies, round-the-clock surveillance, the uptake of social and digital medias as essential life tools – have affected our understandings of rape culture. Through this conference, we propose to analyse the often intersecting ‘alt-right’ and MRA-style ‘shock culture’ responses to feminist ideology and discourse against rape culture and misogyny. Overall, this conference will assess what rape culture means in this new and increasingly mainstreamed, mediatised and technological environment.

The conference will accept proposals from a broad selection of disciplines (digital and media studies, literary and film studies, celebrity studies, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, politics and beyond) and on a variety of topics related to the conference theme, including but certainly not limited to:

  • Online campaigning/hashtags
  • Use of online/digital media
  • Feminist theory and feminist activism
  • Intersectionality and White Feminism
  • Celebrity studies, defamation and celebrity status
  • Rape myths
  • Race and racism in relation to rape culture
  • Media responses to rape
  • Misogyny in/through rape culture
  • Male rape/male victimhood
  • LGBT rape
  • Trans experiences of misogyny and rape culture
  • Race, class, migration and rape culture
  • Institutional violence and responses
  • Hollywood Industry responses
  • Sexual abuse/assault/harassment in the workplace
  • Political responses to rape and rape culture
  • Far-right discourses
  • Men’s Rights activism, Pick-Up-Artistry, the Manosphere and Hybrid Masculinities
  • The context of rape culture in Ireland – Belfast rape trial, Michael Colgan, Al Porter, etc

Conference organisers: Sarah Anne Dunne and UCD Centre for Gender, Feminisms and Sexualities (CGFS), kindly funded by UCD School of Computer Sciences, UCD College of Arts and Humanities and UCD Humanities Institute.

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Stillorgan Road

Belfield

Ireland

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