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Breaking the Silence

New professor turns critical lens to violence against women

Story by UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences January 10th, 2018

The Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research welcomes Professor Maddy Coy, who is introducing a new undergraduate course, Violence Against Women, this semester. As sexual harassment and assault continued to be trending topics in the international conversation, it’s crucial to ground campus discussions in evidence and theory, says Coy.

Maddy Coy

Coy hails from London Metropolitan University, where she served as deputy director of the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit. She’s thrilled to be teaching the new course, which is part of the International Scholars Program at the UF International Center. To wit, she’s also teaching the Transnational Feminism course this semester. With an international approach to feminism must come an intersectional understanding of violence against women. “Lots of the ways in which we talk about violence doesn’t always take into account the impact of race and ethnicity. We don’t always look at ways certain stereotypes are racialized, that is the ways in which women of color are constructed in particular ways,” she says.


Stereotypes are indeed a primary topic of the course, in particular stereotypes about perpetrators and victims of sexual assault and intimate partner abuse. Coy often hears the attitude, especially from younger people, that perpetrators simply have something wrong with them. Assuming that they are “sick or mad affects our asking critical questions,” says Coy.

Moreover, there is common but quiet assumption “that there is a type of woman who experiences violence, that we ask for it in some way by our behavior, that we invite or provoke assault,” she says. She hopes that students will leave the course with an ability to think and speak critically about recent dialogue and news.

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In addition to teaching, Coy is interested in developing collaborations with the sexual assault awareness initiative STRIVE UF and Alachua County Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center, both of whom offer invaluable practice-based knowledge to the academic study of violence against women. “It’s evidence and data, and we should recognize that,” says Coy.

Footnote: Story by Rachel Wayne.