A queer renovation of “rape” requires beginning not with actors, but with acts, which brings into view the central role of the state as a perpetrator of sexual violence. Radical feminists moved the “paradigmatic scene” of rape from the stranger in the alley to the acquaintance in the bedroom: rape was a problem not of exceptional perversion, but of ordinary heterosexuality. The works surveyed in this essay center the scene of state detention, showing how regimes of policing in a racial capitalist state always frame and prototype sexual violence. The author pursues this argument in three passes: history (the discourse around Michel Foucault’s treatment of the Charles Jouy case), aesthetics (the conflation of state and domestic violence in the installations of Palestinian artist Mona Hatoum), and activism (the convergence of abolitionist and antirape movements in the 1970s writings of Angela Davis and the memoirs of the Scottsboro Boys).

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