Degree Year


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




M. David Forrest

Committee Member(s)

Kristina Mani
Cortney L. Smith


Carceral feminism, Feminism, Sexual violence, Sexual assault, Rape, Transformative justice, Second-wave feminism, Anti-rape movement, Campus rape epidemic, Abolition feminism, State violence, Social movements


This paper aims to trace the development of carceral feminist politics within United States institutions and feminist movements. I first define and describe Modern Carceral Feminism. I then argue that the development of Modern Carceral Feminism hinged on two different political moments: the development of a homogenous understanding of women’s oppression in the second wave feminist movement, and the rising political salience of racialized crime leading to punitive policies nationwide in the mid-to-late 1970s and 1980s. As a result, carceral feminist logics became pervasive within institutional and feminist activism against sexual violence. By the 1980s, reactionary feminist anti-violence movements, like the anti-rape movement and the battered women’s movement, relied on mostly punitive enforcement and policing. This tradition expanded with federal action against the so-called "campus rape epidemic” solidifying the domination of carceral feminist approaches in the 2010s. I end by highlighting a different kind of feminism, abolition feminism, coined by activist and legal scholar Angela Y. Davis. Learning from Black and POC-led abolition feminist organizations, I find that there are three key elements to activism that works to reduce both interpersonal violence as well as the violence caused by the carceral state.