A groundbreaking exploration of sexual violence by one of our most celebrated experts in law and philosophy.
In this essential philosophical and practical reckoning, Martha C. Nussbaum, renowned for her eloquence and clarity of moral vision, shows how sexual abuse and harassment derive from using people as things to one’s own benefit—like other forms of exploitation, they are rooted in the ugly emotion of pride. She exposes three “Citadels of Pride” and the men who hoard power at the apex of each. In the judiciary, the arts, and sports, Nussbaum analyzes how pride perpetuates systemic sexual abuse, narcissism, and toxic masculinity. The courage of many has brought about some reforms, but justice is still elusive—warped sometimes by money, power, or inertia; sometimes by a collective desire for revenge.
By analyzing the effects of law and public policy on our ever-evolving definitions of sexual violence, Nussbaum clarifies how gaps in U.S. law allow this violence to proliferate; why criminal laws dealing with sexual assault and Title VII, the federal law that is the basis for sexual harassment doctrine, need to be complemented by an understanding of the distorted emotions that breed abuse; and why anger and vengeance rarely achieve lasting change.
Citadels of Pride offers a damning indictment of the culture of male power that insulates high-profile abusers from accountability. Yet Nussbaum offers a hopeful way forward, envisioning a future in which, as survivors mobilize to tell their stories and institutions pursue fair and nuanced reform, we might fully recognize the equal dignity of all people.