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Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape
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Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  2,138 ratings  ·  62 reviews
"The most comrpehensive study of rape ever offered to the public...It forces readers to take a fresh look at their own attitudes toward this devastating crime."
NEWSWEEK
As powerful and timely now as when it was first published, AGAINST OUR WILL stands as a unique document of the history of politics, the sociology of rape and the inherent and ingrained inequality of men and
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Paperback, 472 pages
Published May 11th 1993 by Ballantine Books (first published 1975)
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Community Reviews

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Chris
I’ve been asked why I wasn’t a fan of Torchwood. You’d think I would be. Who doesn’t like Captain Jack? I turned on the first episode and that ruined it for me. In the premiere, one of the Torchwood crew smuggles home an alien something or other, like a roofie. He goes to a bar, a woman rejects him, he uses the alien thing, and then she is really, willing, and able. They leave the bar, and outside the woman’s boyfriend stops them. Our “hero” uses the magic roofie on the boyfriend, who is now rea ...more
Nandakishore Varma
From Wikipedia:

The 2012 Delhi gang rape case involved a rape and fatal assault that occurred on 16 December 2012 in Munirka, a neighbourhood in South Delhi, when a 23-year-old female physiotherapy intern,[2] was beaten and gang raped in a private bus in which she was travelling with a male friend. There were six others in the bus, including the driver, all of whom raped the woman and beat her friend. The woman died from her injuries thirteen days later while undergoing emergency treatment in Si
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AJ
This book has all of the problems of second wave feminism. It's a very white, middle to upper class look at rape, seeing it as a male-female inequality without a big look into bigger institutional issues. (And by bigger I don't mean the criminal justice system. I mean capitalism, classism, racism, etc.)

I particularly dislike Brownmiller's take on interracial rape as a burden of white women, which stood out as a starkly racist stance to take on the issue. I also dislike Brownmiller's thoughts th
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Jon Trott
Taking into account the book was published in 1975, Susan Brownmiller's Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape remains one of those books any serious feminist or pro-feminist has to read. It is a book I wish every man would read. Brownmiller's journalistic background and systematic historic overview of rape's place in male-dominant cultures make her work earth-shaking. The majority of men do not understand feminism even today; this book's intensity and clarity makes it far easier to understand.
Melissa Baggett
Reading Against our Will is a little like watching a John Wayne movie. When one sees the familiar swagger of the all-American hero, the oddly familiar, maybe even hackneyed, ring to it makes one ask, "Haven't we seen this before?" So, too, does Brownmiller's book feel like ideas that have been repeated frequently, especially to readers who have tastes similar to mine. But then, when reading Brownmiller's work (or watching Wayne's movies), I have to remember--this stuff is not hackneyed. I like t ...more
Steven Peterson
The heart of this book is a statement early on (Page 15): "From prehistoric times to the present, I believe, rape has played a critical function. It is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.

This book traces the thesis from ancient civilization to the present. Early (Pages 18-19), she refers to the Code of Hammurabi as well as Scripture. In turn, the book unfolds as follows: rape and war; rape and revolution; Indians and s
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Robert
While this work has been expanded upon and explored further in later feminist works, the voice in this book's intensity and clarity make it a good introduction to feminist critique. This is less useful for someone familiar with modern feminism.

Brownmiller never conceptualizes "interracial rape as a burden of white women" as another reviewer has claimed. In fact the institutionalized rape that came with slavery gets a chapter all its own (whereas interracial rape does not).

Actually, she doesn't
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Nicola
Before reading this book, I was already familiar with the famous quote from Against Our Will. It’s one of those that pops up in social justice paradise (or purgatory, depending on the day of the week), Tumblr, on a regular basis:
“From prehistoric times to the present, I believe, rape has played a critical function. It is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.”

Stirring stuff, indeed – but, out of context, it seems a little
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Camidon
I can't come up with a better review than Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate: the modern denial of human nature:
"I believe that the rape-is-not-about-sex doctrine will go down in history as an example of extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds. It is preposterous on the face of it, does not deserve its sanctity, is contradicted by a mass of evidence, and is getting in the way of the only morally relevant goal surrounding rape, the effort to stamp it out."
Loraine
It changed my life when I read it many years ago. Recently I was cleaning out old books to give away and i almost gave this one away. Was it still relevant? Then I met a beautiful young woman from India, a militant feminist poet in her twenties, who named this as one of her most treasured books. It struck me that half-way around the world,and across at least a generation, a young woman in a feminist-unfriendly country, became who she is because her father saved this, and other books, for his dau ...more
Adriana
Clássico da segunda onda feminista, este livro é dolorosamente excelente e ainda tem o mérito de destruir alguns dos meus ídolos (como Hunter Thompson, Stanley Kubrick e Sam Peckinpah) e alguns desafetos (como Freud e a teoria psicanalítica), fazer um apanhado no estupro através da história (guerras, racismo, disputa por território e propriedade capitalista em geral) e destrinchar os meandros da culpabilização da vítima e como eram as coisas até os anos 70. Coisa linda esse livro.
Mel
I thought I was going to like this book but the way she treats rape and race is so upsetting! The rape of American Indian and black women receives only a few pages... and I had to put the book down when she reaches the topic of Emmett Till. According to Brownmiller, Till's whistling to a white woman was "a deliberate insult just short of physical assault" ... The chapter on interracial rape was incredible. She manages to turn this topic into how white women have been sacrificed (this continues t ...more
Zechy
Fantastic book. Not just a polemic against the evils of the patriarchy, an objective and scholarly look at a subject that it is almost impossible to take too seriously. Personally, my biggest complaint is with some of the speculative history in the first chapter, but that is quickly passed, and probably just part and parcel of the books original milieu, I believe they were common beliefs at that time. What may be considered this books greatest weakness, it's being out-of-date, may be it's most i ...more
Ellen
You see, as someone who thinks a lot about creating a world without sexual violence, I expected to devour this book. But I started reading it in September (of course), and while I was highlighting stuff while reading, I didn't want to pick it back up when I put it down, and it was also far too depressing. It was interesting in parts, ja, but I expect this will be one of the books I'll keep on hand as a reference source when writing, but not reading from cover to cover. (Also, back when it was wr ...more
Anna
I think every woman should read this book. It's really the first book to address rape in a thorough, historical way (it was written in the 1970s but is still very relevant). It's interesting the way she frames the issue. Something along the lines of "In the beginning there was man and there was woman. Man raped woman, and so began the oppression and subjugation of women by men.... etc."

My only caveat is the long chapter on rape in war. It's important from a historical standpoint, but it drags an
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Annie
Sep 17, 2007 Annie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone!
Difficult to read more than 20-30 pages at a time, but it's really just staggering. It makes me want to yell at every history teacher I've ever had for not telling me about rape throughout the history of the world. This book makes it clear that rape is not a personal problem but a sociological tool. Read it and weep (literally).
Jessica
I read this book years ago. It is a hard read because of the subject matter, although a large part of me truly believes that victims should read it. It really is helpful.

Brownmiller is a strong, clear writer.
Karla
Terrible; I couldn't even finish this book.
Regina
I found a used copy of the original printing at a library book sale and I'm so glad I did. Even though the edition I read was published in 1975, it is just as relevant today.

The book traces the history of "rape" from it's original conception as a property rights violation of one man against another all the way to the more modern concept as an assault. It's a hard read in many places and harder still for anyone who has had to face a rape situation, but it is and incredibly important read. Still.

B
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Heather
It is easy to see why this is a classic. It was originally written in the late 1960s/early 1970s and was, at the time, a groundbreaking book on the subject of rape. The author clearly was a feminist during the height of the 2nd wave of the women's rights movement which I think does color her book but does not detract from its worth.

The author focuses a good chunk of the book on rape during war, revolution, and other such violent events. However, she also focuses on rape in other cases. Her book
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Sara
The subject matter is so heavy, the look at it so unflinching, and so disturbing that I could only take 20 or so pages at a time. It also is not a quick read (she is rather verbose), and it starts out slowly. About 1/3 the way in the book takes off.

This book was written two years before I was born, and yet so so much of it is still completely applicable to today (unfortunately). This was really the first serious in depth study about rape, and how it's been used a weapon against those not in pow
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Kay
This book easily falls under the genre of "retro classic feminist text," if that even exists as a genre.

This book is pretty straightforwardly about rape. All kinds of rape, throughout history. In the first several chapters, she documents cases of mass rape: The German Army's rapes of Belgium women in World War I, Nazis rapes of Jewish women during World War II, rape in Bangladesh, American soldiers' rapes of Vietnamese women during the war (and commanders' horrifyingly misguided attempts to off
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Elizabeth
Apr 01, 2011 Elizabeth rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
As referred to in Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs.


First, a public service announcement: There is no evidence that cooperating with a rapist makes you any safer . You may think, "Oh, if I go quietly, then he will appreciate that and be less likely to kill or injure me", but you would be wrong. There is no quid pro quo . If he was already willing to commit murder (and actually, very, very few rapes end in murder, so odds are overwhelmingly that he's not), he's not going to be any less so becau
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Colleen Clark
First rate, as timely today as when it was first published in 1975. It's comprehensive, covering in its 404 pp many many aspects of rape. It's hard to think of what Brownmiller did not cover. The 12 chapters are:
1. The Mass Psychology of Rape: An Introduction;
2. In the Beginning Was the Law - more or less from Hammurabi through English Law, which is the basis for our law
3. War: WW I; WW II; Bangladesh; Vietnam (Now we might think of the Congo, Bosnia, and rapes committed by our troops in Iraq
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Martine
This book is an example of the kind of feminism that sometimes writes 'Woman' with a capital. Most of the book consists of transcriptions of rapes - hardly easy reading material - intersected with extreme feminist theories. Her argumentation, most of the time, is not clearly stated and farfetched. However, if the laws in America in her time are what she says they are - not to mention the attitude of the police towards rape and rape victims - I understand her extremism. A lot has changed, for the ...more
Leanne Clegg
Susan Brownmiller’s 'Against Our Will' still remains the most comprehensive feminist treatment published to date, and in its breadth and scope has yet to be surpassed. Her stark claim – that all men benefited from rape because its pervasive threat kept all women subordinated – proved revolutionary to many and still holds power in its digestion close to 40 years on. Still a worthwhile book for any reading list.
Stephy
Oct 10, 2008 Stephy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Susan Brownmiller made great waves with this incredible volume on a topic nobody much cared to mention in her day. Actually, several years earlier, "Against Rape!" by Kathleen Thompson and Andrea Medea broached the subject, and was well know in the women's movement. Susan Brownmiller managed to find a really big publishing house with the willingness to pour a lot of money into advertising her book. Naturally enough, it is considered the first, but there was,let us not forget, an earlier work, wh ...more
Kaethe
I'm not at all sure what I'd think of this now, but when I read it, it was part of developing a feminist way of thinking more nuanced than "it's not fair."
Melissa
I REALLY ENJOYED THIS BOOK. IT KEPT ME TURNING THE PAGES.
Susan Clark-cook
A very well and deeply researched book that will leave you knowing more about rape than you ever thought possible. She starts out with early ideas of and history of rape in general and then takes you through many permeations that leave you deeply disturbed but well educated. I had to put this book down numerous times because reading it became too hard, and I was either too saddened or so angry that I just couldn't continue. Not a fun or easy read, but one that is very important, and I feel that ...more
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Susan Brownmiller (born 15 February 1935) is an American feminist journalist, author, and activist best known for her 1975 book Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape.

Brownmiller also participated in civil rights activism, joining CORE and SNCC during the sit-in movement and volunteering for Freedom Summer in 1964, wherein she worked on voter registration in Meridian, Mississippi. Returning to New
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“When New York City created a special Rape Analysis Squad
commanded by police- women, the female police officers found
that only 2 percent of all rape complaints were false—about
the same false-report rate that is usual for other kinds of
felonies.
(a a talk given by Judge Lawrence H. Cooke before the Association of the Bar of the City of New York)”
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