Sexist Ideology and Sexual Violence: Critical Theory and Conceptual Engineering

March 21, 2023 - March 23, 2023
Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo

Room 452
Georg Morgenstiernes hus, Blindernveien 31
Oslo 0371

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


Universität Potsdam


University of Oslo
University of Oslo

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Course description

The existing debate on rape is often marked by an “all or nothing” approach. Something either is rape or it is not rape and thus unproblematic. Most theories (Alexander 1996; Hurd 1996; Archard 1998; Wertheimer 2003) rely on a dichotomy between good and bad acts, and thus orientate themselves towards understanding rape as a phenomenon that has no overlap with other phenomena, such as other forms of sexualized violence or forms of unproblematic sex. This dominant conceptualization of rape and the usage of the term are distorted by so-called rape myths.

This course is set to challenge this assumption and stress the interrelatedness of the category of rape with other categories in order to adequately track the complex phenomenon of rape in a social world shaped by (gender) injustice including problematic binary gender categories, heteronormativity, sexism, and misogyny.

The aim is to introduce the background of sexist ideology for understanding sexual violence, especially with regard to violence against trans and non-binary persons, and the way in which rape myths should be conceptualized, drawing more thoroughly from Critical Theory’s notion of false consciousness. Doing so, it will introduce students to important tools for analyzing gender injustice and provide them background insight in a rich collection of philosophical traditions such as feminist philosophy and standpoint theory, ideology critique and Frankfurt School Critical Theory, political philosophy, and applied ethics.


Dr. Hilkje Hänel is currently a Helene Lange visiting professor in the department of philosophy at Oldenburg University and will take up a research position for five months at the Department of Philosophy, San Diego State University starting in June 2023. Hänel also works as assistant professor/postdoc in political theory at Potsdam University, where she is currently on research leave. Since October 2021, she is the principal investigator of a DFG-research network The Relation between Theories of Epistemic Injustice and Recognition Theory.

Target audience

The course is primarily aimed at PhD level students in Philosophy (feminist philosophy, critical theory, social epistemology, philosophy of language, conceptual engineering, ethics, and social and political philosophy). However, PhD students from other areas of the Humanities are also welcome. There will also be a possibility for interested masters’ students from the University of Oslo to apply and/or attend, but priority will be given to PhD students. Women and minorities, both at MA and PhD levels, are encouraged to attend.

Practical information

  • There are three lectures planned on understanding sexual violence, sexist ideology, rape myths, and their relation to epistemic injustices. 
  • This is a three-day Ph.D. course consisting of lectures and discussions. The course is worth 2 ECTS credits. The complete schedule and curriculum will be sent to the participants separately.
  • Students will be encouraged to deliver brief 10-minute presentations on a topic of their choice as long as it is related to the course theme, but this component is not mandatory.
  • One week after the course, the students will be asked to submit one of two possible activities: a commentary (1000 words) on a chapter of their choice of Dr. Hänel’s book “What is Rape?” (which will serve as the general background bibliography); an essay (2000 words) on a topic of their choice related to the course.
  • The course is free of charge and includes lunch for the three days (please let us know if you have any food restrictions). Transportation, accommodation, and other meals have to be arranged and financed by the participants themselves.


  • The application deadline is February 21, 2023.
  • The application should include a short description of the applicant and their research interest.
  • In case your research is strongly related to the course materials, there will be an opportunity to present your work during the course and get feedback. If you are interested in presenting your current research, provide us also with a title and a short abstract (up to 150 words) for your 10-minute talk.
  • For application submission and further questions, contact Hugo Mota: [email protected].

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February 21, 2023, 9:00am CET

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