Gender and History in the Americas

7 January 2013, 5.30pm
Althea Legal-Miller (Independent Scholar)
Mistreated and Molested: Jailhouse Violence and the Civil Rights Movement


Please join us for our first live stream of 2013.  On Monday 7 January at 5.30pm (GMT) we will be streaming across the web the latest seminar from the Gender and History in the Americas seminar.  As you can probably tell from the title of the paper this should prove to be an interesting and stimulating session.  Here are the details:



Violence against predominately black protesters during the 1960s American civil rights movement has been popularly characterised by scenes of fire hoses, dogs, club wielding law enforcers, and vicious white mobs.  Yet civil rights suppression was also sexualized.  While the mass incarceration of both female and male activists served as an attempt to destabilise the movement, the fierce preservation of white supremacist patriarchal hierarchies within the semi-occluded space of the jailhouse left female civil rights workers particularly vulnerable to an innumerable repertoire of sexualized assaults that included sexual comments and threats, sexual intimidation, voyeurism, strippings and sexualized beatings, abuse of search authority, molestations and rape.  However, empowered by the politicised climate of the movement, women and girls on an unprecedented scale used their bold denunciations of sexualized violence to restore self-determination and hold their white oppressors accountable.

This paper argues that the 1960s was a pivotal moment in the long history of black women and girls’ resistance to interracial sexualized violence.  Using the papers of civil rights organisations and oral histories, insights are provided on the ways female activists used public testimony to challenge gender relations, white male privilege and the disciplinary effects of sexualized violence.  In re-examining the nexus of segregation, sexuality and sexualized violence, this paper re-conceives the scope of racial and gendered violence used to maintain Jim Crow and the high price of freedom that women and girls were compelled to pay.

To listen to this live stream click here on Monday