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Beyond Blurred Lines

Paperback Edition Fall 2018

Beyond Blurred Lines: Rape Culture in Popular Media

By Nickie D. Phillips


Phillips, an associate sociology and criminal justice professor at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, devotes this thoughtful study to the concept of rape culture, showing how it has reshaped public debate. Phillips explains the term’s transition from being used principally within feminist academe—where it originated in the 1970s—to becoming a topic of discussion throughout mainstream media. Exploring recent subjects of controversy, including the social media– fueled national interest in the Steubenville, Ohio, sexual assault case; the depiction of sexual violence on television; misogyny within gaming culture; and the incidence of assaults on college campuses, she maintains that today’s increased discussions around the topic have created a 'media-cultural environment that ultimately impacts politics and policy making.' The book also shows that, although much work remains to be done in clarifying and improving college disciplinary policies, enforcement of existing rules against sexual assault is making headway across campuses. And, as Phillips acknowledges, the media coverage of sexual assault cases and increased discussion of rape culture has raised cultural awareness and a move toward 'finding solutions that lie outside the scope of criminal justice.' This new book will contribute to an important conversation. — Publishers Weekly

Sociologist Phillips explains that ‘rape culture’ as a concept has existed for over 25 years, but has only become popularized in the last decade. Phillips does not aim to show statistics about rape or showcase in-depth interviews with victims. Rather, she relies on extensive data and resources to unearth how ‘rape culture entered the collective imagination.’ Although the concept was originated among academics and legal scholars, it began to be used to explain sexual violence that occurred on a day-to-day basis. Phillips explains that the phrase was used to describe, characterize, or criticize performances on the Video Music Awards, or allegations against Bill Cosby and others on popular media. TV shows, comic books, and video games have similarly brought rape culture into mainstream culture. The author aptly examines college campuses as well as how Title IX has impacted the on-campus dynamics around sexual assaults. This book has significant value not because it discusses why rape happens or what caused rape culture, but because it traces the history of the concept and its social meaning.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. All academic levels/libraries. — CHOICE