Vulnerable bodies : the threat of sexual violence and the error of risk reduction strategies
- Aggleton, Sabrina
- [University Park, Pennsylvania] : Pennsylvania State University, 2017.
- Physical Description:
- 1 electronic document
- Additional Creators:
- Lawlor, Leonard, 1954-
- Graduate Program:
- Restrictions on Access:
- Open Access.
- This dissertation investigates the widespread tendency to fixate on womens vulnerability to sexual violence that is pervasive in popular culture, the media, jurisprudence, education, and prevention strategies, such as risk reduction. More specifically, I examine how risk reduction strategies distribute a special pre-situational vulnerability to feminine bodies and a sense of gendered responsibility for prevention. To clarify the theoretical limitations and ethical hazards of this distribution, I critically apply concepts from Maurice Merleau-Pontys phenomenology of embodiment and Simone de Beauvoirs ethics of ambiguity. In the first chapter, I develop Merleau-Pontys thesis of the primacy of perception, his account of embodiment, and his ontology of the flesh in order to reveal the ontological error that risk reduction strategies perpetuate. In the second chapter, I develop key facets of Beauvoirs methodology and existential ethics, including ambiguity, the fluid parameters of the human situation, and the intersubjective dimensions of situated freedom, in order to clarify the ethical error of these strategies. In the third chapter, I carry these methodologies forward in an examination of womens special vulnerability to sexual violence. I critique the phallocentric logic of vulnerability that undergirds the application of a neo-liberal conception of risk management to sexual violence. I examine the corresponding risk reduction strategies that are imposed on the feminine body and provide a phenomenological description of how they situate feminine bodies within a space of risk. This enables me to articulate how the theoretical limitations of the narrow focus on womens vulnerability translate into ethical harms that impact both women and society at large. The conclusion provides a preliminary framework for liberating vulnerability from risk reduction. More specifically, I suggest an understanding of mutual vulnerability that affirms an existential understanding of risk and recalibrates the reciprocity of the erotic encounter.
- Other Subject(s):
- Dissertation Note:
- Ph.D. Pennsylvania State University, 2017.
- Technical Details:
- The full text of the dissertation is available as an Adobe Acrobat .pdf file ; Adobe Acrobat Reader required to view the file.
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