Monday, June 08, 2015

CFP: "Asking For It: Discussions of Consent and Sexual Violence"

--Eric Selinger

In light of some recent discussions of rape, rape fantasy, empathy, and romance at Dear Author and Olivia Waite's eponymous blog, I thought this CFP for a book project called Asking For It: Discussions of Consent and Sexual Violence seemed relevant and on point.  I have some hesitations about the CFP's reference to sexual violence as a "source of entertainment" in romance novels, since this seems a gross exaggeration of a complex issue in the genre's history and current practice, but perhaps that's all the more reason for romance scholars to propose contributions.  

NOTE:  Given the reviews out today (June 15, 2015) of Lilah Pace's new erotic novel Asking for It at Dear Author and at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (trigger warnings at both sites), this seems even more relevant than it did last week.

The current deadline for submissions (3-6,000 words; longer pieces will be considered) is June 26, 2015.  If that won't work for you, and you still want to submit, it's worth getting in touch to discuss a workable time frame.

Call for Papers

Asking for It: Discussions of Consent and Sexual Violence
Joshua Stein, ed.

At the start of the 21st century, there are few social justice issues as divisive and important in popular culture as that of sexual violence and consent. Sexual violence is a fixture in popular culture, both as a source of entertainment (e.g. Law & Order: SVU; romance novels; etc.) and as a major news issue (e.g. University rape accusations; sexual and domestic violence in professional sports; etc.). These instances have fueled public discourse on consent and sexual violence.

The goal of this anthology is to provide an interdisciplinary and inter-subjective look at the subject of consent, focusing on the various contexts in which consent to sexual activity is violated in our society, the victims of sexual violence, and the social structures that are barriers to seeking justice and care for those victims. In the course of this discussion, the authors explore both the human, social, and ethical dimensions of our social problems with consent and sexual violence.

A secondary goal for this book is to develop the perspectives of a younger generation of academics, and so priority will be generally (though not absolutely) given to younger contributors and/or essays that address concerns and instances in popular culture. Historical analysis that discuss instances of sexual assault before the 20th century are fine, but are best if such analyses are placed in contrast to 21st century instances and data.

This anthology roughly divides into four parts:

Mainstream Narratives of Sexual Violence Contemporary narratives around sexual violence in certain public spaces have become distressingly common: cis-gendered man or men sexually assault a cis-gendered woman, whether in a University, at a party, in a hotel, on the street. Essays in this section discuss the common themes and eccentricities around these events, ranging from media representation, social factors, the experiences and struggles of the victims, and the legal process.

The Consent of the “Others” There are an enormous number of cases of sexual violence that the public narrative doesn’t include, notably sexual violence against non-cis-female people. These instances problematize social beliefs about what sexual violence looks like, and create further social and personal barriers for victims who do not fit in the mainstream narratives. These victims, included men, trans* people, people of color, the incarcerated, etc. are often forgotten in our discussions of consent, and the goal here is to bring the discussion back to focus on them.

Theoretical Considerations The discussions around consent, and the instances of sexual violence presented in the first two sections, requires a broader consideration of two theoretical questions. First, how does our contemporary society address sexual violence, at its best and at its worst? As a matter of fact, what are the social structures that are meant to ensure justice, and how do they work? Second, how ought we to address issues around consent? What constitutes consent, and under what circumstances? How are we to evaluate violations of consent to sexual activity and ensure just treatment of perpetrators and compassionate treatment of victims?

Creating a Culture of Consent Following consideration of the theoretical issues, what we should aspire to in our culture, we close by attempting to address concrete social changes that can be made to improve our society’s ongoing issues with consent and the perpetuation of sexual violence, both as a matter of institutional reform and in order to create a culture that values a more ethically sound view of consent.

This collection is open to submissions in the form of narrative, social criticism (interdisciplinary or limited to a single discipline), or ethical argument. The goal is to provide academic-level analyses of this serious social issue and present those analyses in ways that are accessible and engaging for readers both inside and outside of academic study; regardless of the approaches to analysis, the discussions need to be able to engage readers who possess a limited familiarity with technical material and theoretical framework in the various disciplines being utilized.

We are looking for submissions between 3-6,000 words on the subject of consent and sexual violence for inclusion in this volume. Consideration will be given to longer articles, where there is a particularly compelling reason for inclusion.

Articles can focus on:
Depictions of sexual violence in popular culture and media, as well as the benefits and problems of such depictions.
Social factors that condition both acts of sexual violence and responses from victims, support systems, and the wider community.
Groups that are victimized by sexual violence who are often ignored by mainstream portrayals or discussions of the issue. (e.g. men, trans* and queer persons, people of color, indigenous people, the incarcerated, sex workers)
Resources for victims of sexual violence, and the limitations of and barriers to those resources.
Radical social criticisms (e.g. feminist, Marxist, anarchist, etc.) of society’s treatment of sexual violence and consent violation.
The relationship of sexual violence to other parts of culture. (e.g. mass incarceration, television and film, political discourse, etc.)
Prospective solutions, social programs, and community organizations to address the problems of sexual violence.

One of the goals of this volume is to bring out the voices of young advocates on the subject of sexual violence; while articles addressing pre-21st century subject matter or written from a more venerable perspective will be considered, it is recommended that such articles consider contrast with contemporary examples.

Academic analyses are welcome, but will require editing to make them stylistically accessible to a non-academic audience.

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