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Copyright (c) 1994 Fordham Law Review
Fordham Law Review


* This panel discussion, held March 29, 1994, at Fordham Law School, was co-sponsored by the Fordham Law Review and Fordham Law School.

October, 1994

63 Fordham L. Rev. 125


Panelists: DONALD DRIPPS, ** Professor of Law, University of Illinois College of Law; LINDA FAIRSTEIN, *** Chief, Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit and Deputy Chief, N.Y. County District Attorney's Office; ROBIN WEST, **** Professor of Law, Georgetown University

Moderator: DEBORAH W. DENNO, ***** Associate Professor of Law, Fordham University



Why Rape is Different 1

Deborah W. Denno

"Short of homicide, [rape] is the 'ultimate violation of self.'" 2 Yet, comprehending the stigma and controversy of rape in this country requires an understanding of why rape differs from other crimes on so many dimensions. This introduction to Fordham Law School's panel, Men, Women and Rape, summarizes briefly some of the unique historical, sociological, and psychological aspects of rape as a backdrop for discussions of its legal elements.

Much of the information about rape in this introduction was derived from Rape in America: A Report to the Nation ("Rape in America"), 3 a recent analysis of empirical data collected on the forcible rape of a sample of women in this country. 4 Rape in America was based on the results of two nationwide studies: 5 (1) The National Women's Study, a three-year longitudinal survey of a national probability sample of 4,008 adult American women age 18 and over; 6 and (2) The State of Services for Victims of Rape ("The State of Services Study"), a survey conducted with respondents from a national probability sample of 370 agencies that provide crisis counseling to rape victims. 7 Although there are methodological weaknesses with these studies, 8 they provide the most recent and comprehensive account of women's experiences with, and attitudes towards, forcible rape.

Stereotyping and Stigma

Rape is different because it overwhelmingly involves male perpetrators and female victims. 9 A focus on this male-female pattern should ...
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