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Sex Education and Sexual Violence Against Women

Essay Plan

The planned essay will examine specific arrangements and institutions that perpetuate cultural-level sexual violence against women.


The Introduction section will survey and outline the fields of enquiry in which the essay will conduct research. The reader will be introduced to the concept of "arrangements of violence", and definitions will be provided regarding institutions, masculinity, men and gender in the context of sexual violence against women. Definitions of sexual violence against women, and some representative statistics regarding the current prevalence of such violence, will be provided. The structure of the essay will be briefly outlined.


Sex Education

The Background section will discuss sexual violence against women in the context of a broader "rape culture", taken as meaning a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse. Rape culture will form a keystone of the essay as a cultural lens through which to understand the institutions and arrangements that perpetuate the phenomenon of violence against women.

Literature Review

The literature review will comprise a brief survey of the extant published literature relating to arrangements of sexual violence against women. The literature selected will be chosen for being published relatively recently, and for having been published in peer-reviewed or academic journals and other sources. A review of the extant scholarly literature followed by conclusions drawn from and supported by a synthesis of this literature, case studies and theories.

Case Study: Sex Education

One institution which can be seen to clearly affect the culture of sexual violence against women is that of sex education in schools. Van Teijlingen, Reid, Shucksmith, Harris, Philip, Imamura, Tucker and Penney consider the specific role of emotion and embarrassment as they relate to discussions of sex and sexual health - including sexual violence - among young people. There seems to be a significant role to be played by programs of sex education for youth of all gender identities in the challenging of institutionalized sexual violence towards women. These authors are correct in that shame and embarrassment play a significant part in the levels of sexual violence towards women more generally - their indication that young women often lack empowerment and agency regarding negotiating safer sex can, in itself, be seen as a form of violence towards women as exposure to STDs and the risk of pregnancy can be seen as, essentially, damage to a woman's body. A challenge to these authors could be made regarding the relative roles of emotional and logistical factors in sex education and resultant ability to negotiate safer sex. While it is certainly important for embarrassment and shame surrounding discussion of sex to be reduced, it is also important that robust and nuanced sex education regarding consent is made available to all youth. The provision of, and quality of, sex education in many schools is wildly varying - this logistical element could be addressed as a challenge to the arrangement of embarrassment and shame silencing women victims of sexual violence, and the lack of power women often have in negotiating safer, consensual and healthy sex.

Case Study: Rape Culture in Media

Using Attenborough and others, a case study of rape culture as represented in the mass media will be conducted. It will be considered how media narratives, reporting and journalism may contribute to the arrangements of sexual violence against women.

Case Study: Bystander Intervention

Using Burn and others, a case study of the phenomenon of bystander intervention will be carried out. Bystander intervention has been developed in recent years as a potentially effective challenge to the arrangements of sexual violence against women. Bystander intervention involves engaging, or training, individuals to intervene when they are a bystander in a situation of actual or predicted sexual violence towards a woman. Intervention techniques can be direct or indirect, or can operate via distraction of the perpetrator.

Discussion and Conclusions

The discussion section of the paper will summarise the case studies and their relationships to arrangements and institutions outlined in the paper. Common threads will be drawn between elements of the discussion, and the more effective possible challenges to sexual violence against women will be identified.


Attenborough, F. 'Rape is Rape (Except When It's Not): The Media, Recontextualisation and Violence Against Women', Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict, 2(2), pp. 183-203.

Burn S. M.. 'A situational model of sexual assault prevention through bystander intervention', Sex Roles, 60, pp. 779-792.

Callaghan, J. E. M. Young People's Understandings of Men's Violence Against Women. Surrey: Ashgate.

Carlson M. 'I'd rather go along and be considered a man: Masculinity and bystander intervention', Journal of Men's Studies, 16, pp. 3-17.

Flood, M. 'Changing men; Best practice in sexual violence education', Women Against Violence, (18), pp. 26-36.

Flood, M. 'Male and Female Sluts: Shifts and Stabilities in the Regulation of Sexual Relations Among Young Heterosexual Men', Australian Feminist Studies, 28(75), pp. 95-107.

Horeck, T. '"#AskThicke: "Blurred Lines," Rape Culture, and the Feminist Hashtag Takeover', Feminist Media Studies, 14(6), pp. 1105-1107.

McEvoy, A.L. ed.. Sex, Love, and Friendship: Studies of the Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love: 1993-2003 (Vol. 232). Rodopi. Phipps, A. and Young, I. 'Neoliberalisation and 'Lad Cultures'', Higher Education, 49(2), pp. 305-322.

Piccigallo, J. R., Lilley, T. G. and Miller, S. L. 'It's Cool to Care About Sexual Violence: Men's Experiences with Sexual Assault Prevention', Men and Masculinities, 15(5), pp. 507-525.

Researching Polish Women. How to Find a Woman for a Relationship in Poland. Available at https://polishwomen.com/articles/

Van Teijlingen, E., Reid, J., Shucksmith, J., Harris, F., Philip, K., Imamura, M., Tucker J. and Penney, G. 'Embarrassment as a Key Emotion in Young People Talking About Sexual Health', Sociological Research Online, 12(2).