Document Type

Honors Project


Sexual violence is a “constructed” crime informed by race, class, and gender, although the effects of identity on the issue of sexual violence are often ignored in contemporary discourse. In the United States, the responsibility for holding sexually violent people accountable is laid upon the criminal justice system. However, the criminal justice system is inherently flawed and unjust, making the administration of true justice nearly impossible. Furthermore, mainstream feminists have long relied on the prison industrial complex to aid them in the fight against sexual violence, a phenomenon known as carceral feminism. A punitive, carceral feminist mindset has penetrated higher education institutions and influenced the criminalization of Title IX policy and practice. The criminalization of Title IX ignores that sexual violence is a result of systemic factors such as patriarchy, reinforcing instead the idea that sexual violence is idiosyncratic. Failing to address the systemic roots of sexual violence allows these acts of violence to continue. Specifically, fear- and shame-based rhetoric in U.S. sex education normalize violence and sex in youth culture. adrienne maree brown’s notion of pleasure politics allows us to imagine a more humanizing and pleasure-based way to educate about sex and sexuality. By validating and normalizing pleasure as a healthy element of sexual life, and as a form of restorative/transformative justice, we can move towards a society in which sexual violence is eradicated and human relations are nurtured. This paper uses scholarly sources supported by personal experience to draw connections between academic theory and real life.



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