Brenda V. Smith, “Boys, Rape and Masculinity: Reclaiming Boys’ Narratives of Sexual Violence in Custody”

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Ohio State University, Criminal Justice Research Center


This seminar will examine a little studied area at the intersections of masculinity, feminist studies, and criminal justice – sexual abuse of boys in custody by female staff. The seminar will outline the scope of the problem and discuss competing narratives that attempt to explain the phenomena: (1) female staff as “mother, sister, or friend”; (2) adolescent development theory; (3) complex early childhood trauma; and (4) female authority and power. I find a gap in both masculinity and feminist theory in analyzing sexual aggression and power by women over boys. The seminar will conclude with policy and practice prescription and recommendations for further theoretical development in the masculinity and feminist theory spaces to account for these phenomena.