Relating Rape and Murder

  • Jane Monckton Smith


The catalyst for writing this book was partly a personal and mundane experience of my own. Alone in my home one night I felt distinctly vulnerable and afraid and as a woman alone it probably wouldn’t surprise anyone to hear that this anxiety was related to fear of rape or sexual assault. It was only after intellectualizing this fear and thinking of the repercussions for my children that I recognized I was less afraid of a sexual assault than I was of not surviving it. However, the seemingly commonsense association of the crime of rape with the crime of murder that I made did not occur as an isolated and irrational thought for the terms are routinely collocated in popular discourse and roll off the tongue together in a disturbingly familiar way. Such is the power of this relationship that in some contexts rape and murder are even conflated and able to act as analogies for each other. This conflation is exemplified in cases defined as serial/sexual murder like, for example, the crimes of Jack the Ripper and Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper; both of whom are characterized as sexual offenders and sometimes rapists even though this was not part of their modus operandi. In this context rape is far more than its legal definition; it is acting as a metaphor, powerfully suggesting an essential sexual dimension to this fatal violence and infusing it with heterosexual symbolism.


Sexual Assault Criminal Justice Intimate Partner Criminal Justice System Sexual Violence 
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Copyright information

© Jane Monckton Smith 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane Monckton Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Natural and Social SciencesUniversity of GloucestershireUK

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