Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 7-1-2020


In Copyright


Different groups of people experience rape in different ways. Empirical evidence confirms that women fear rape considerably more than men, that incarcerated males fear being sexually assaulted more than non-incarcerated males, and that transgender individuals are more fearful of being raped than cisgender individuals. In the case of women, fear of rape often conditions many decisions females make, including what to wear, where to go, and how much to drink. In the prison context, fear of rape leads many men to adopt overly aggressive behaviors as a way of safeguarding against being raped. Genderqueer people often follow a series of freedom-constraining rules in certain social settings in order to avoid being sexually assaulted. The behavior modification that fear of rape brings about in these historically discriminated groups is a harm in itself that is distinct from the individual harm that any particular instance of rape causes. In recognition of the unique harms that rape visits upon these groups, this Article argues that we ought to describe the rape of these individuals as a sexual type of lynching that serves to perpetuate domination of these historically marginalized groups. By formally recognizing that rape harms these groups of people in a special way, the label of "sexual lynching" serves as both an expression of solidarity with these vulnerable communities and a rejection of the patriarchal norms that create a false equality between the diverse ways in which rape is experienced by different groups.

Publication Title

Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy

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