Title

"That lady, Sir, is her own mistress": Evelina's Condemnation of Rape Culture

Content Category

Literary Criticism

Abstract/Description

Fanny Burney’s 18th Century novel Evelina is a canny critique of rape culture and the pervasive assumption of female consent. Evelina navigates a social world in which she nominally has the right to say no to anyone in any matter regarding her own body, but where that right is consistently undermined by social punishment, victim blaming, and deliberate ignorance. Earlier scholars have characterized Evelina’s compliance as a flaw in her character, a result of her lack of confidence and experience, but I contest that Burney’s text clearly absolves Evelina herself of all guilt. Burney instead condemns the society that would seek to erase Evelina’s no, and she creates in Lord Orville a model of English masculinity that could finally free women from the dangers of rape culture.

Copyright and Licensing of My Content

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Location

3082 JFSB

Start Date

19-3-2015 11:30 AM

End Date

19-3-2015 1:00 PM

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Mar 19th, 11:30 AM Mar 19th, 1:00 PM

"That lady, Sir, is her own mistress": Evelina's Condemnation of Rape Culture

3082 JFSB

Fanny Burney’s 18th Century novel Evelina is a canny critique of rape culture and the pervasive assumption of female consent. Evelina navigates a social world in which she nominally has the right to say no to anyone in any matter regarding her own body, but where that right is consistently undermined by social punishment, victim blaming, and deliberate ignorance. Earlier scholars have characterized Evelina’s compliance as a flaw in her character, a result of her lack of confidence and experience, but I contest that Burney’s text clearly absolves Evelina herself of all guilt. Burney instead condemns the society that would seek to erase Evelina’s no, and she creates in Lord Orville a model of English masculinity that could finally free women from the dangers of rape culture.