cover image Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus

Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus

Vanessa Grigoriadis. HMH/Dolan, $28 (368) ISBN 978-0-544-70255-4

National Magazine Award–winning journalist Grigoriadis explores sexual assault, rape culture, and sexual politics at American universities. She uses the story of Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student who carried her mattress around campus after the administration failed to expel her alleged rapist, as a launching pad to define consent and assault, which Grigoriadis argues are murky concepts. Her focus on acquaintance rape rather than stranger rape highlights campus cultural issues such as alcohol and drug use and institutions such as fraternities and sororities that contribute to increased rates of sexual violence. In researching the book, she interviewed more than 200 students at 200 universities, speaking with young women, campus activists, and victims, as well as young men who deny the accusations of rape and assault made against them, and the young men’s families. Grigoriadis adds context to the often-polarizing topics with numerous first-person accounts. Her view that “we, as a society, are terrified to look at boys as boys rather than men and give them a break as such” seems to make excuses for criminal behavior. However, the breadth of her research, including her discussion of how university administrators deal with rape allegations and her exploration of toxic gender roles and stereotypes, are reason enough to pick up this book. (Sept.)