October 14, 2016 — I just start kissing them. Just kiss—I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Whatever you want. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.—Donald Trump The video was released on Friday, October 7. At the presidential debate two days later, when CNN moderator Anderson Cooper asked the Republican nominee Donald Trump to explain his apparently predatory behavior to the nation, Trump dismissed his deep-seated serial misogyny and nonconsensual sexual advances as mere “locker room talk.” Repeatedly. Afterward, in the GOP spin room, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions staunchly defended his ally, insisting, contrary to the Department of Justice’s definition, that grabbing a woman’s genitals without her consent was not sexual assault. On Wednesday, in the New York Times, two women gave their own detailed accounts of having been sexually assaulted by Trump; another woman, a People magazine journalist, also came forward to share her story. On Thursday, delivering an impassioned speech in New Hampshire, Michelle Obama called out Trump as a sexual predator who routinely abuses his male privilege and power: “This wasn’t locker room banter. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior, and actually bragging about kissing and groping women … It reminds us of stories we heard from our mothers and grandmothers about how, back in their day, the boss could say and do whatever he pleased to the women in the office.”The furor went national after the release of the video, but the problems had started much earlier: when Trump’s lawyer claimed it was legal to rape your spouse; when Trump, in campaign speeches across the country, called Mexican immigrants rapists; when he continued to assert the guilt of the Central Park Five, who were wrongfully convicted of rape and finally exonerated by DNA evidence after serving years in prison. The Trump video inspired the writer Kelly Oxford to invite women to tweet at her the stories of their first assaults; by Monday, she had received thousands of testimonies about flashings, gropings, and rapes; along the way, Oxford’s account was viewed some 30 million times. Building in intensity throughout the year—in the courts, on college campuses, throughout the blogosphere, and on Facebook pages, Snapchat stories, and Twitter feeds—suddenly it seemed the phrase “rape culture” dominated the national conversation. Rape culture refers to the trivializing of sexual violence and the tendency to blame victims while exonerating or excusing assailants. It also refers to the racial disparities in arrests and sentencing of accused rapists. We need look no further than the notorious case of Brock Turner, a Stanford student who was found guilty of three counts of felony sexual assault, and yet was handed an uncharacteristically lenient sentence by a questionable judge. Even more devastating in its reach, the Department of Justice recently concluded that the Baltimore City Police, among other crimes, “seriously and systematically under-investigates reports of sexual assault.” Scholars and activists, poets and playwrights have been writing about rape for centuries. What would the conversation around sexual assault, police bias, and the legal system look like if investigators, police officers, and judges read deeply into the literature on sexuality, racial justice, violence, and power? It is in view of this question that the following syllabus is offered as a scholarly resource—and object of critical discussion and debate—on “rape culture” in the 21st century. read more …………………..