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Home2019-01-09T17:52:20+00:00

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Alyssa Milano’s #MeToo twitter appeal (October 15, 2017) to women, to publicly speak out about experiences of sexual harassment and assault, powerfully foregrounded the persistence of patriarchal structures, particularly in the workplace, and its misogynist implications on a global scale. Initially connected to the entertainment industry, the movement spread to disclose harassment and assault in religious and educational institutions, as well as in the financial industry and in politics, exposing the pervasive impact/use of sexualized violence; misuse of positions of power in all social sectors against those in (financial) dependency (in work situations) and against all those who threaten to disturb the heteronormative order, including women, men, and LGBTQ*.

In the afterword of her manifesto Women and Power, Mary Beard expresses the hope that the fall of 2017 will be recognized as the moment that “kick-started a sexual and social revolution”, but also acknowledges the fear that it might only be “the glorious herald of a change that never happened” (99). The current backlash against what is termed “gender ideology” in politics and media in different parts of the world signals the anxieties about, but also the potential for change causing this reaction. Recognizing the importance of the current moment, gender foruminvited authors to critically engage with the movement initiated and popularized by #MeToo #TimesUp #MuteRKelly and with the questions it raises about 21st century sexual politics…

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Abstract: Feminist rhetorics have long been concerned with interrupting power, questioning norms, and challenging the status quo. First-wave feminists concerned themselves with not only women’s suffrage, but also with the ways in which women were portrayed in cinema and other media. We believe critical attention must continue to be paid to the relationship between media and contemporary protest. As Simone de Beauvoir writes, “It would appear…that every female human being is not necessarily a woman; to be so considered she must share in that mysterious and threatened reality known as femininity” (253). Now, more than ever, women’s concerns with rape culture, sexual assault, and sexism are making their way into public discourse. While the #MeToo movement has been a critical point of activism both on the ground and online, another axis from which women are questioning the normalization and silencing of sexual violence against women has been through television. One of the most prolific outlets has been the television series adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which showcases the ways in which women struggle within power structures surrounding consent and the body. While Atwood’s novel was published in 1985, in the midst of second-wave feminism, and while Atwood was living in West Berlin, surrounded by the Berlin Wall (Field), the 2017 adaptation of the text, for which Atwood is a producer, is a timely response to contemporary feminist concerns.

In this article, we unpack the ways in which The Handmaid’s Taleprovides a dystopic articulation of rape culture in the United States. While we relate some of the dis/connections between Margaret Atwood’s novel and its televisual articulation, we foremost discuss the ways in which the adaptation uses ritualized rape to challenge the normalization of sexual assault and sexism in American politics, law, education, and family life. Drawing on the dialectic between the #MeToo movement and the series, we discuss the ways in which contemporary protest and feminist activism has integrated key terms and concepts that draw our attention to power, consent, and the body. Feminist narratologist Susan S. Lanser argues that narratives, text-based and otherwise, must be analyzed within the social context in which, and for whom, they were produced: “[T]he authority of a given voice or text is produced from a conjunction of social and rhetorical properties. Discursive authority… is produced interactively; it must therefore be characterized with respect to specific receiving communities” (6). Drawing from feminist narratology, we dissect the rhetoric of ritual to discuss how The Handmaid’s Talehas become a critical counterpart to what has otherwise been conceptualized as a social media-driven fourth wave.

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Author’s Bio: Dr. Samantha Solomon is the Charles W. Blackburn Postdoctoral Fellow in English at Washington State University, where she also received her Ph.D. Her scholarship focuses on modernist literature, narratology, and the First World War, and more specifically on narrative representations of the experience of war, broadly conceived. samantha.solomon@wsu.edu

Dr. Zarah Moeggenbergis a Postdoctoral Fellow in Technical Communication at Utah State University. She received her Ph.D. from Washington State University and also holds an MFA in poetry. Her scholarship centers on feminist and queer rhetorics pertaining to activism and the body. She has been published in The Routledge Handbook of Digital Writing & Rhetoric and Getting Personal: Teaching Personal Writing in the Digital Age. She also has work forthcoming in Pre/Text: A Journal of Rhetorical Theory and The Journal of Basic Writing. zarah.moeggenberg@usu.edu.

Abstract: Sexual violence on college campuses is not a new issue, however, the current media spotlight has brought greater public attention to this problem. Yet, despite this attention, there continues to be incidences of sexual violence across university campuses, and in university athletics in particular. In more than 100 cases of sexual violence on Canadian university campuses over a ten-year span, 23% involved university athletes as alleged perpetrators (Quinlan et al.). Given that competitive athletes compose between 1-3% of the university student population in Canada, they are over-represented in reported cases of sexual violence (Quinlan et al.), which suggests that sexual violence in university sport is particularly problematic. In this paper, this issue is addressed by asking how ruling relations inform institutional responses to sexual violence. First, to explore this question a literature review of sexual violence in sport is provided. Second, a description of how the ruling relations of organizations as a conceptual framework is outlined. Third, a consideration of the institutional responses to two cases of sexual violence in university athletics reported in the Canadian media are described. Following a discussion concerning these cases, suggestions are offered that address sexual violence in Canadian university sport, which may be translatable to other contexts.

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Author’s Bio: Hayley Finn is a doctoral student at Western University in the field of critical policy, equity and leadership studies (Faculty of Education). Her interests include gender, leadership and sport. Her doctoral research will focus on the underrepresentation of women head coaches in Canadian university sport. This research will explore the institutional processes and practices of Canadian university sport and how it informs the leadership experiences of current head female coaches. Currently, she is working on a supplementary project that examines the implementation of sexual violence policies in Canadian universities.

Dr. Rita A. Gardineris an Assistant Professor in Critical Policy, Equity, and Leadership Studies, Faculty of Education, Western University. Her research interests include exploring leadership ethics, and organizational culture through feminist theory and Arendtian inquiry. She has published extensively on authentic leadership and organizational ethics. Publications include Gender, Authenticity and Leadership: Thinking with Arendt (Palgrave MacMillan, 2015), and articles in Business Ethics Quarterly, Leadership, and Gender and Organization. Dr. Gardiner has also co-edited a special issue on critical approaches to authentic leadership, as well as written numerous book chapters on leadership, gender, and authenticity. Currently, she is working on a new project that examines the implementation of sexual violence policies in Canadian universities, as well as a monograph, to be co-authored with Dr. Katy Fulfer, on questions of home and belonging in the work of Hannah Arendt.

Leona Bruijnsis a PhD student and Vanier scholar attending Western University in Ontario, Canada. Her research focus is on sexual violence and she is currently investigating the outcomes of an innovative sexual violence prevention program aimed at male varsity athletes.

Abstract: One year has passed since the #MeToo movement started to spread on social media in October 2017. This powerful movement has connected women not only in the United States but also around the globe to form a strong alliance to renegotiate women’s roles and status in contemporary society in which sexism and misogyny are becoming a rising trend and women are challenged by the threat of sexual assault and harassment in the workplace. In the recent October issue of The Economist, a front-page op-ed puts forward that #Metoo “is not about sex so much as about power—how power is distributed, and how people are held accountable when power is abused” (“#MeToo, One Year On” 13). In the world of law and politics, such biased power distribution between men and women is even more apparent. Struggling at the periphery of legal and political fields, women have been challenged by gender stereotypes and have been insulated from power and leadership. Over the past decades, American women have made significant progress in legal and political professions. In the 2018 election, Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland became the first two Native American women elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. More and more women politicians rise up to seize power, subvert the male-centric system, and, therefore, provide real-life examples for numerous American television series featuring women’s advancement in law and politics.

The present article aims to investigate the representations of women in two American political television series—House of Cards (Netflix, 2013-2018) andThe Good Wife (CBS, 2009-2016)by tackling one major question, namely, the representations of women and how they deal with the sexual assault cases. In particular, the analysis concentrates on the female rape victims (including one female politician) who have experienced sexual assault, and women lawyers who represent and help the female rape victims. By focusing on the rape-centered episodes in these two television dramas, this article also attempts to connect with some real-life incidents, for instance, the #MeToo movement, so as to contemplate existing problems with respect to women’s empowerment, gender equality, sexual misconducts, and social justice in and beyond legal and political fields.

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Author’s Bio: Yuwei Geis a doctoral candidate in Philipps-Universität Marburg. Her doctoral project is focused on women and political leadership in the United States, and her research interests include gender studies and media studies. She has presented papers on women and leadership at several international conferences organized by The Oxford Research Center for Humanities, the Association for Art History, the German Association for American Studies, the Nordic Association for American Studies, the Atlantische Akademie, and the International Association of Inter-American Studies. She has published an article and a book review respectively in Gender Forumand American Studies Journal of GAAS.

Abstract: n/a

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Author’s Bio: Stephanie Selvick completed her academic training in literature, specializing in postcolonial studies, queer theory, and African writing. In 2013 she earned her PhD in English from the University of Miami, where she served as a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) volunteer for three years. Stephanie currently serves as the LGBT* Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater