Susan Brownmiller sparked a fundamental shift in society’s understanding of rape with her groundbreaking book, Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. Brownmiller participated the Civil Rights movement through sit-ins, picket lines, and Freedom Summer in Mississippi and continued her work with civil rights and antiwar protests after she returned to editorial work for Newsweek and the Village Voice. In 1968, when the women’s movement burst on the national scene, Brownmiller became involved as an activist and gravitated to the issue of violence against women. Her book, Against Our Will, published in 1975, examined everything from early human law codes to current portrayals of rape in newspapers and popular music. She was the first to argue that rape is an issue of power and control, not sexual desire, and that rape is not the victim’s fault. The book is credited with changing laws requiring a corroborating witness for rape and allowing evidence about the victim’s sexual history in rape trials. Brownmiller went on to write In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution about her involvement with the women’s movement, and to speak out about violence against women.
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How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Susan Brownmiller." (Viewed on May 14, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/brownmiller-susan>.