When Women’s Liberationists Could Imagine Fighting Violence Against Women Without Relying on the Prison System

The new book, All Our Trials: Prisons, Policing and the Feminist Fight to End Violenceis a history of activism by, for, and about incarcerated domestic violence survivors, criminalized rape resisters, and dissident women prisoners in the 1970s and early 1980s.”

How Feminists Resisted Prisons and Policing in the 1970s

“Anticarceral feminist politics grew in the cracks of prison walls and at the interfaces between numerous social movements, including those for racial and economic justice, prisoners’ and psychiatric patients’ rights, and gender and sexual liberation. Through the process of building coalitions that transected these social justice struggles, the activists at the center of this study produced a broad and layered understanding of ‘violence against women’ that encompassed the structural violence of social inequalities, the violence of state institutions and agents, and interpersonal forms of violence, including rape, battering, and sexual coercion. This expansive analysis directly clashed with the “tough-on-crime” ethos of the 1970s and the mainstream women’s movement’s increasing embrace of criminalization as a frontline solution to interpersonal violence.”

All Our Trials shows how the focus on the lives of marginalized women demonstrated that incarceration was a source of further harm rather than justice and safety.  The book is well worth a read.

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