Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Christie Hartley

Second Advisor

Andrew Altman

Third Advisor

Andrew I. Cohen

Fourth Advisor

Sandra Dwyer


In a critique of sex-based theories of rape, Aletta Brenner suggests that feminists such as Catharine MacKinnon rely on a harmful set of assumptions when theorizing about the law of rape leading to harms to victims and perpetrators. I defend MacKinnon’s position in order to demonstrate how MacKinnon’s theory does not employ the assumptions Brenner suggests and therefore does not lead harms. However, I highlight one concern of Brenner’s that MacKinnon’s theory does not adequately address: that MacKinnon insists that all rape is sex based. I posit that in Same Sex Mutual Intimate Partner Violence, rape appears to be sexual-orientation based rather that sex based and suggest that MacKinnon’s theory ought to make distinctions that allow the law to be sensitive to those most vulnerable to rape.