Women, Power, and Rape Culture
The Politics and Policy of Underrepresentation
by Bonnie Stabile and Aubrey Leigh Grant
September 2022, 216pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7697-4
$55, £43, 48€, A76
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eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7698-1
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The election of Donald Trump precipitated more women running for elective office and speaking openly about their experiences with rape, sexual assault, and harassment.

Focusing on how rape, sexual assault, and harassment relate to underrepresentation of women in public authority, this book provides an insightful exploration of the policy context that impedes women's advancement to positions of power.

The election of Donald Trump precipitated one of the largest outpourings of political protest on a single day in U.S. history with the 2017 March for Women. The emboldened #MeToo and #TimesUp movements reacted not only to the historical injustice of sexual offenses perpetrated upon women, but women’s associated underrepresentation in positions of power and public authority.

Women, Power, and Rape Culture examines the principal events, actors, and paradigms in the politics of rape, sexual assault, and harassment since Trump’s election. Unlike other studies, it connects these traumatic events to women’s underrepresentation in the public sphere. Chapters consider the power of presidential speech, judges, and Congress to create structural barriers to women’s representation as well as the stultifying effects of weak college and university responses to sexual violence. Disparities in women’s representation in positions of public authority are considered in light of the disproportionate burden imposed on women by a culture that discounts the prevalence of rape and harassment and by the policies that inadequately address them, allowing them to perpetuate.


  • Explains how U.S. politics and public policy are intimately connected to rape, assault, and sexual harassment
  • Describes how political rhetoric in social media can contribute to women's continuing relative silence and underrepresentation in the public sphere
  • Examines the influence of judicial decisions shaped by justices who themselves have been credibly accused of sexual assault
  • Highlights the congressional context where women are underrepresented in the most powerful positions, overrepresented in support roles, and systematically subjected to sexual harassment and misconduct that has been inadequately acknowledged or addressed
  • Considers the importance of the campus context in setting the stage for women's underrepresentation by perpetuating unjust outcomes in pervasive cases of campus sexual assault and harassment
Bonnie Stabile, PhD, is associate professor and associate dean of student and academic affairs in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, where she also serves as the director of the master of public administration (MPA) program and served for five years as director of the master of public policy (MPP) program. Stabile was the 2019 recipient of the Schar School's Teaching Award and is the founding director of the Gender and Policy (GAP) Center at the Schar School. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and holds a master's of public administration and a PhD in public policy from George Mason University.

Aubrey Leigh Grant, MPP, is a doctoral candidate at George Mason University. She served as editorial assistant for World Medical & Health Policy, an academic journal published by Wiley, and project coordinator for the Gender and Policy Center at the Schar School of Policy and Government. In 2019, she was awarded the Gender and Policy Leadership Award.


"Stabile and Grant provide a long-overdue and impeccably researched account of how the 2016 election and its aftermath catalyzed a movement to challenge rape culture and gender inequality in the United States. This book is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the entrenched barriers that remain to dismantling these systemic injustices."—Ally Coll, President and Co-Founder, the Purple Campaign

"The authors invite you into the dark well of gender-based discrimination, bring light to the intersectional nuances of so-called rules of social order embedded in rape culture, and recognize the need to disrupt it. From college campuses and Congress to the Executive Branch and highest courts, they chronicle accounts of women and survivors—especially those whose identities arise from and are interwoven among historically excluded, silenced, and marginalized communities— to raise sensibility to this deeply rooted issue."—Kenyora Parham, Executive Director, End Rape On Campus

"We cannot achieve gender equality without first understanding the drivers of politics and policy influencing women's representation. Stabile and Grant offer critical insights into the ways in which sexual assault and harassment are permitted to permeate political structures—and to repress women's leadership. Women, Power, and Rape Culture is recommended reading for everyone working to advance women's participation in positions of power."—Katherine Spillar, Executive Director, Feminist Majority Foundation; Executive Editor, Ms. Magazine

"Clarence Thomas. Donald Trump. Brett Kavanaugh. Why do men accused of sexual assault repeatedly rise to political power, and what do they do once they get there? In this timely and critically important new book, Bonnie Stabile and Aubrey Grant reveal rape culture's deep connections to women’s political underrepresentation and the erosion of women’s legal rights in the United States today. A brilliant must-read book for anyone who cares about the safety and well-being of American women and girls."—Carrie N. Baker, Bauman Professor of American Studies, Program for the Study of Women and Gender, Smith College
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