Sex in a Masculinities World: Gender, Undesired Sex, and Rape

The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, Forthcoming

73 Pages Posted: 29 May 2018

Date Written: May 18, 2018


This Article examines gender, rape, and consensual, but undesired, sex. Drawing from scholars from both feminist and masculinities literature, it argues that rape is not just a product of women’s subordinated relationship to men; it is also a product of men’s relationships with each other. Specifically, rape can be the result of an unstable masculine identity. Violence, including rape, is a toxic way that some men cope with this instability. Furthermore, since not all men can be at the top of the masculine hierarchy, some men are ultimately the victims, not the perpetrators of rape. Understanding this dynamic is important because it helps explain why men can be and are raped. Furthermore, it provides one explanation for why acquaintance rape still persists in the current era of hookups. Hookup culture, which purports to provide women with the same sexual freedom and autonomy that men possess, still perpetuates toxic masculinity norms. Furthermore, instead of fully challenging traditional feminine norms, hookup culture forces women to operate under a new set of complicated and conflicting norms. Despite the many legal rape reforms that feminists have successfully obtained in the past couple of decades, young women still end up having a lot of undesired sex and even experiencing rape. For these reasons, this Article concludes that rape reform must go beyond the law. There should be more of a focus on dismantling the toxic aspects of masculine culture. Evidence suggests that such steps are already being taken through grassroots, social media, and institutional efforts. These efforts might help lessen the amount of rape and undesired sex that both men and women experience, regardless of any limitations the law has or should have in regulating sex.

Keywords: rape, gender, feminism, masculinities

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Bailey, Kimberly, Sex in a Masculinities World: Gender, Undesired Sex, and Rape (May 18, 2018). The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Kimberly Bailey (Contact Author)

Chicago-Kent College of Law ( email )

565 West Adams St.
Chicago, IL 60661
United States

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