Marshall Poe

J. S. Hirsch and S. Khan, "Sexual Citizens: A Landmark Study of Sex, Power, and Assault on Campus" (Norton, 2020)

J. S. Hirsch and S. Khan, "Sexual Citizens: A Landmark Study of Sex, Power, and Assault on Campus" (Norton, 2020)

The fear of campus sexual assault has become an inextricable part of the college experience. Research has shown that by the time they graduate, as many as one in three women and almost one in six men will have been sexually assaulted. But why is sexual assault such a common feature of college life? And what can be done to prevent it? Drawing on the Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation (SHIFT) at Columbia University, the most comprehensive study of sexual assault on a campus to date, Jennifer S. Hirsch and Shamus Khan present an entirely new framework that emphasizes sexual assault’s social roots—transcending current debates about consent, predators in a “hunting ground,” and the dangers of hooking up. Sexual Citizens: A Landmark Study of Sex, Power, and Assault on Campus (Norton, 2020) is based on years of research interviewing and observing college life—with students of different races, genders, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Hirsch and Khan’s landmark study reveals the social ecosystem that makes sexual assault so predictable, explaining how physical spaces, alcohol, peer groups, and cultural norms influence young people’s experiences and interpretations of both sex and sexual assault. Through the powerful concepts of “sexual projects,” “sexual citizenship,” and “sexual geographies,” the authors offer a new and widely-accessible language for understanding the forces that shape young people’s sexual relationships. Empathetic, insightful, and far-ranging, Sexual Citizens transforms our understanding of sexual assault and offers a roadmap for how to address it. In this interview, Dr. Hirsch, Dr. Khan, and I discuss three concepts that are central to their argument regarding the prevalence and prevention of sexual assault: Sexual projects, sexual citizens, and sexual geographies. Hirsch and Khan argue that sexual assault is connected to features of the university setting (e.g., alcohol, Greek life), race, class, and gender, and (mis)understandings of sex and consent. Additionally, the authors go on to discuss their research methods and how schools, parents, administrators, and other members of the campus community can take active steps to address and prevent sexual assault on college campuses. I highly recommend this book for both a general audience and those with a scholarly interest in sexual violence and/or elite educational institutions. Sexual Citizens would be a great book for undergraduate or graduate courses related to gender, gender-based violence, sexual assault, and organizations. Jennifer S. Hirsch is a professor of sociomedical sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and codirects SHIFT, the Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation, at Columbia University. Shamus Khan is a professor of sociology at Columbia University, where he is the chair of the department. He writes on culture, inequality, gender, and elites. He was a co-Principal Investigator of SHIFT, a multi-year study of sexual health and sexual violence at Columbia University. Krystina Millar is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at Indiana University. Her research interests include gender, sociology of the body, and sexuality. You can find her on Twitter at @KrystinaMillar. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration: 1 hr 1 min

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