Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Date of Award

Spring 4-18-2022

Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name

Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies - BA


Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Dr. Tammy Birk

First Committee Member

Dr. Suzanne Ashworth

Second Committee Member

Louise Captein


Pussy, Prey, Predation, Sexual Violence, Vulnerability, Animality

Subject Categories

Animal Studies | Higher Education | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


The pussy is the central focus of this thesis: the pussy as prey, the pussy as the cis-gendered vulva-owning female, the pussy as the effeminate male. The pussy is a source of vulnerability and a catalyst for sexual and gender violence. The term pussy alone aligns the human figure to the nonhuman animal world in euphemistic language. Because an anthropocentric culture accords less respect to the nonhuman animal than to the human animal, the pussy is dehumanized – that is to say, an object without ethical standing that exists to serve the more powerful subject - and therefore, violence against it is justified. In this paper, I use the language and rhetoric of predator and prey to illustrate how human sexual violence is animalized, how sexual violence is justified and normalized. Even so, it must be remembered that the human roles of predator and prey are socially constructed. Prey is the product of a construction that defines its identity as inherently vulnerable and susceptible to violence and harm. The vulnerability of - and the way that violence is perpetrated against - prey is minimized or ignored in society through this framework. The connotation and etymology of the animalized language used to describe sexual organs and practice is also a perpetuating factor of sexual violence in human society. This paper seeks to examine and interrogate the discourse of predation by reconceptualizing the human identification with - and investment in - the language of both predator and prey as a way of linking animality, vulnerability, and violence in scenes of sexual coercion.

Licensing Permission

Copyright, all rights reserved. Fair Use