Intersections of Power: Sexual Assault, Public Health, and the Making of Sexual Citizens

Lecture | February 3 | 12-1:30 p.m. | 820 Barrows Hall

 Jennifer Hirsch, Professor, Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

 Department of Gender and Women's Studies

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' 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.

Jennifer Hirsch's research spans five intertwined domains: the anthropology of love; gender, sexuality and migration; sexual, reproductive and HIV risk practices; social scientific research on sexual assault and undergraduate well-being, and the intersections between anthropology and public health.She has published articles in journals such as American Journal of Public Health, Studies in Family Planning, AIDS, and Culture Health and Sexuality. Her books include 'A Courtship After Marriage: Sexuality and Love in Mexican Transnational Families' (University of California Press, 2003), which explores changing ideas and practices of love, sexuality and marriage among Mexicans in the U.S. and in Mexico, and the coauthored 'The Secret: Love, Marriage and HIV' (Vanderbilt University Press, 2009), which analyzes the social organization of extramarital sexual practices in Mexico, Nigeria, Uganda, Vietnam, and Papua-New Guinea and the implications of those practices for married women's HIV risk. Along with Dr. Claude Ann Mellins, Hirsch co-directed the Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation (SHIFT), a study supported by Columbia University that examines sexual health and sexual assault among Columbia and Barnard undergraduates. She is the co-author, with sociologist Shamus Khan, of the forthcoming 'Sexual Citizens: A Landmark Study of Sex, Power, and Assault on Campus'.

Event co-sponsored by: Berkeley Center for Social Medicine

Part of the: Gender & Women's Studies Department Spring 2020 Lecture Series:
"Thinking About Sexual Violence On Campus: Six Scholars, Five Programs"

Thank you to the Chau Hoi Shuen Foundation Fund for Gender and Women's Studies, The SVSH Advisor Office, and Center for the Study of Sexual Culture for supporting this series.

These lectures are free and open to the public. Venues are wheelchair accessible. Please refrain from wearing scented products at these events. If you require an accommodation for effective communication (ASL interpreting/CART captioning, etc.) or information about campus mobility access features in order to fully participate in this event, please contact gilliane@berkeley.edu with as much advance notice as possible.

 gilliane@berkeley.edu