Accounting for Rape

Psychology, Feminism and Discourse Analysis in the Study of Sexual Violence

By Irina Anderson, Kathy Doherty

Series Editor: Jane Ussher

© 2008 – Routledge

176 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415211741
pub: 2007-11-29
US Dollars$50.95
Hardback: 9780415211734
pub: 2007-11-29
US Dollars$165.00

e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

Accounting for Rape presents an original perspective on the subject of rape, focusing on both female and male sexual violence. The authors investigate everyday beliefs about rape, to examine how blaming the victim and the normalization of rape are achieved by people in a discussion about sexual violence. They synthesize discursive psychology and a feminist standpoint to explore precisely how rape and rape victimhood are defined in ways that reflect the social, political and cultural conditions of society.

By analysing conversational data, Anderson and Doherty suggest that the existing social psychological experimental research into rape and rape perception fails to analyse the subtlety and political significance of rape supportive reasoning. Accounting for Rape provides a critical interrogation of the dominant theories and methodologies, focusing on:

  • How the gender and sexual orientation of alleged victims and perpetrators is crucial to social participants when making sense of a rape report and in apportioning blame and sympathy
  • How arguments that are critical of alleged victims are built in ways that are 'face saving' for the participants in the conversations, and how victim-blaming arguments are presented as 'common sense'.
  • The potential of applying this approach in both professional and academic contexts to promote attitude change.

The book will be of great interest to those studying social and clinical psychology, cultural studies, sociology, women's studies and communication studies.


"Accounting for Rape provides a timely, in-depth critique of contemporary rape supportive culture in western societies. Anderson and Doherty offer compelling insights into the prejudices informing our understandings of sexual violence, including assumptions about the gendering of victims of rape. Presented in an accessible and engaging way, Accounting for Rape is destined to make a significant impact on contemporary scholarship on sexual violence and rape culture." - Annie Potts, University of Canterbury

"Accounting for Rape: Psychology, Feminism and Discourse Analysis in the Study of Sexual Violence is a timely and critical text… Accounting for Rape is worth the read; Anderson and Doherty present a compelling argument for rethinking our approaches to the study of rape and challenge us as scholars to reflect on our own research as a mechanism for producing knowledge, rather than simply a mechanism for disseminating it." - Jill Cermele, PsycCRITIQUES

"Anderson and Doherty have made a huge contribution to this understanding by approaching the socially endemic problem of rape and sexual violence from a unique perspective…Anderson and Doherty’s invaluable portrait of the phenomenon of rape takes a huge step towards understanding the evolution, maintenance, and hopefully abolishment of a pernicious problem within our society. I would thoroughly recommend this book to those wanting to expand their understanding of the feminist perspective of rape, as it provides an insightful and current analysis of how the phenomenon of rape can be explained."

– Amy Grubb, Journal of Sexual Aggression

Table of Contents

1. Rape Supportive Culture. 2. The Social Psychology of Rape Perception. 3. Toward a Feminist Discourse Analysis of Accounts for Rape. 4. Talking about Female Rape: The Social Construction of Hazard/Risk and Accountability. 5. Making Sense of Male Rape. 6. Metaphors About Female and Male Rape. Conclusions.

About the Authors/Editor

Irina Anderson is a principal lecturer in Psychology at the University of East London.

Kathy Doherty is a principal lecturer in Communication Studies at Sheffield Hallam University.

About the Series

Women and Psychology

This series brings together current theory and research on women and psychology. Drawing on scholarship from a number of different areas of psychology, it bridges the gap between abstract research and the reality of women's lives by integrating theory and practice, research and policy.

Each book addresses a 'cutting edge' issue of research, covering topics such as postnatal depression and eating disorders, and addressing a wide range of theories and methodologies.

The series provides accessible and concise accounts of key issues in the study of women and psychology, and clearly demonstrates the centrality of psychology debates within women's studies or feminism.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Clinical Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Human Sexuality
PSYCHOLOGY / Social Psychology