Women's bodies and war: Bonhoeffer on self-assertion

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Dianne Rayson begins this chapter at Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s place of execution—a courtyard inside Flossenbürg Concentration Camp in Bavaria—which was situated directly in front of the camp’s brothel. Female prisoners were transferred into Flossenbürg from other nearby camps for the ultimate humiliation of sexual slavery prior to the final violence of their extermination. The physical proximity of this systematized rape and murder is a graphic reminder that the root contributors to both, according to Bonhoeffer, is humanity’s attempt to assert itself over against the “Other.” In an early lecture, “The Right to Self-Assertion,” Bonhoeffer interrogates how power subverts relationships resulting in domination of the “Other” (including women) and ultimately in war. Rayson examines this neglected piece of writing by Bonhoeffer in light of the problem of rape culture, and considers how the theological conditions for such a cultural injustice were articulated by Bonhoeffer from within his own context of rising Nazism in 1930s Germany. Consistent with the corpus of Bonhoeffer’s theological works, she considers how notions of sociality and responsibility are key components of a “fully human” response to injustice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRape Culture, Gender Violence, and Religion
Subtitle of host publicationChristian Perspectives
EditorsCarolyn Blyth, Emily Colgan, Katie B. Edwards
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9783319726854
ISBN (Print)9783319726847
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameReligion and Radicalism
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


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