- Published September 6, 2016.
- Find it at Akashic’s site, Amazon, Indiebound, BookPeople, and Goodreads.
Football teams create playbooks, in which they draw up the plays they will use on the field. Coaches and players memorize these playbooks. Each individual play is given a name and can be communicated in a matter of seconds from sideline to field. If all goes well, the large amount of work that goes into a single play suddenly looks like a natural flow of bodies moving in unison that result in the movement of the ball down the field or the successful stop of the other team’s offense.
Playbooks are how teams work and why they win.
Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape is about a different kind of playbook. Over the last three years, this has been a hot topic as people are wondering aloud and often about the problem of sexual assault on college campuses, especially when it involves the football players on people’s favorite teams. This book explores that playbook, the one coaches, teams, universities, police, communities, the media, and fans seem to follow whenever a college football player is accused, charged, and/or convicted of sexual assault. It’s a deep dive into how different institutions — the NCAA, athletic departments, universities, the media — run the same plays over and over again when these stories break. If everyone runs their plays well, scrutiny dies down quickly, no institution ever has to change how it operates, and the evaporation of these cases into nothingness looks natural. In short, this playbook is why nothing ever changes.
Unsportsmanlike Conduct unpacks this societal playbook piece by piece, and not only advocates that we destroy the old plays, it suggests we replace them with ones that will force us to finally do something about this issue.
Excerpts from Unsportsmanlike Conduct:
- “How to create a college football playbook that gets sexual consent right” at Dallas Morning News
- “How Racist and Sexist Myths Shape Our Reaction to Sexual Assault on Campus” at Truth Out
Reviews for Unsportsmanlike Conduct:
- Review from the New York Times: “Not to reckon with Luther’s book would be an abdication not only of one’s moral faculty but also of one’s fandom. Luther is a graduate and still a fan of Florida State, which recently won a national championship behind the quarterback Jameis Winston — a Heisman Trophy winner and the subject of a rape accusation. (He denies it, and after an incomplete investigation there was no prosecution. Florida State later settled a lawsuit in the case.) Luther doesn’t just want to save future victims; she wants to save college football.”
- Review from Kirkus: “Highly relevant, hard-hitting, much-needed information that reveals the widespread existence of rape by sports players on college campuses.”
- Review from WBUR: “What distinguishes “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” from any number of books, articles, and documentaries about the subject is Luther’s emphasis through the latter half of her book on what could be done to promote change.”
- Review from Texas Observer
- Review from Rewire
- Review from Shakesville
- Review from The Current
- Review from Le Noir Auteur
- Review from The White Bronco
- Review from Misanthropester
Media for Unsportsmanlike Conduct:
- On “Best books of 2016” list at Boston Globe
- Sports Illustrated’s Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch
- Interview at Teen Vogue: “College Football and Rape Culture Interview With Jessica Luther”
- Interview at New York Magazine: “The Author Who Wants to Fix Sexual Assault in College Football”
- Panel at Texas Book Festival (video)
- KERA’s Think: “The Politics Of College Rape” (audio)
- USA Today’s Football Four Podcast
- Interview at espnW: “Writer Jessica Luther on sexual violence in college sports”
- Interview at Houston Chronicle: “Austin writer examines ‘the intersection of college football and sexual assault'”
- Dave Zirin’s Edge of Sports podcast
- On “100 Must-Read Feminist Books” at Book Riot
- The Shadow League Sports Talk Podcast
- Interview at the Shadow League
- Interview at Street Roots News: “College football: a culture of fandom, athleticism – and sexual assault”
- Interview at Lenny Letter: “Unsportsmanlike Conduct”
- Interview with KUT: “Jessica Luther’s ‘Unsportsmanlike Conduct’ Tackles Sexual Assault in College Football”
- Interview with Elle: “Jessica Luther: “We Have a Terrible Understanding of Consent in Our Society””
- Interview with Think Progress: “One woman’s quest to end the sexual assault epidemic in college football”
- Interview at Broadly: “Keeping Score: The Woman Tracking Rape in College Football When No One Else Will”
- Interview at Playboy: “Sports Writer Jessica Luther is Taking on the Big-Time Institutions Perpetuating Campus Rape”
- Dallas Morning News: “Q&A: Jessica Luther on the ugly intersection of college football and violence against women”
- Q+A at the Chronicle of Higher Education: “‘We Write the Violence Out Completely’: A Journalist Says Rape Culture Is Systemic in College Football”
- On “Why You Should Hate Football (But Will Watch It Anyway)” list at Lithub
- Review at Misanthropester
- Interview on an episode of Bitch Magazine’s podcast, Popaganda: “Sports and Capitalism”
- Q+A at The Establishment: “Rewriting The Playbook: Jessica Luther Tackles Rape Culture In College Sports”
Coming in 2018, How To Love Sports When They Don’t Love You Back, co-authored with Kavitha A. Davidson (University of Texas Press).
How To Love Sports will be a guide for conflicted fans who want to keep watching the sports they love but who acknowledge the problems with the industry, addressing topics such as How to Watch Football When We Know About CTE, How to Cheer For Your Hockey Team When There’s An Accused Rapist On It, and How to Watch March Madness When You Know The Athletes Aren’t Getting Paid.
Contributor in The Feminist Utopia Project: Fifty-Seven Visions of a Wildly Better Future, edited by Alexandra Brodsky & Rachel Kauder Nalebuff (The Feminist Press).
What do we want?
In this groundbreaking collection, more than fifty cutting-edge voices, including Melissa Harris-Perry, Janet Mock, Sheila Heti, and Mia McKenzie, invite us to imagine a truly feminist world. An abortion provider reinvents birth control, Sheila Bapat envisions an economy that values domestic work, a teenage rock band dreams up a new way to make music, Katherine Cross rewrites the Constitution, and Maya Dusenbery resets the standard for good sex. Combining essays, interviews, poetry, illustrations, and short stories, The Feminist Utopia Project challenges the status quo that accepts inequality and violence as a given—and inspires us to demand a radically better future.
Contributor in The Hunting Ground: The Inside Story of Sexual Assault on American College Campuses, edited by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. (Skyhorse Publishing).
Chapter title: “Sports on Trial.”
The Hunting Ground, the new documentary by award-winning filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, has taken this debate to a new level, becoming a galvanizing catalyst for discussion at the hundreds of campuses where the documentary is being screened each month. The film has sparked calls for legislation by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and other prominent public figures and sparked a backlash from university administrators, fraternities, and conservative groups.
Now, in a new companion volume to the film, all those concerned about the “rape culture” on campus will be offered an inside perspective on the controversy, as well as reactions to the film from a range of leading writers and guidance on how to learn more and get active. As in the film, it’s the gripping personal stories told by female students—and the obstinate refusal of college administrators and law enforcement authorities to recognize the severity of the problem—that will rivet readers.
Contributor in BedPost Confessions: Real Sex. Real People. Real Confessions., edited by Mia Martina and Katherine Hale
Chapter title: “It’s the Cunnilingus, y’all”
Description of the book:
Sex: (almost) everybody does it and (almost) nobody talks about it—except at BedPost Confessions, a live storytelling series based in Austin, Texas. Whether the featured performers are funny, informative, political, or completely personal, the anonymous confessions from the audience are the stars of every show. This collection is a highlight reel of the “titillating delight” that “stuns Austin audiences with the power of story.” (Austin Chronicle).
Cancer, fast food, celibacy, genderqueer identities,the vagina-mind connection, 19th-century polyamory, coming out, motherhood, bondage, online dating, oral sex, fisting, aging, pegging, lesbian pulp fiction, dating violence, Catholicism, trans girlhood, sex work, and a lot of pee–somewhere in these 35 stories, essays, and poems, y’all will find something to spark a fantasy or start a conversation.
Contributor in Football, Culture and Power, edited by David J. Leonard, Kimberly B. George, and Wade Davis. (Routledge Research in Sport, Culture, and Society).
Chapter title: “A Societal Mirror & a Force for Change: The NFL & Its Response to Domestic Violence”
Description of the book:
What does it mean when a hit that knocks a human being unconscious is experienced as pleasurable by viewers? When these athletes and their families are suffering long-term damage from this harm and yet such suffering is rarely put into narrative? And when a players tattoos or social media controversies results in greater attention and litigation than the social stances of players?
This book brings together scholars, writers and commentators to examine the relationship between football, violence and the larger relations of power in which we all live our lives. Within the context of the NFL and the structural conditions in which the NFL has emerged, this book explores issues of racism, sexism and homophobia as a window into the social, political and cultural imprint of America’s national pastime. The book argues that the NFL reveals a collective psychic participation, by which our subjectivity is formed within historical systems of violence, power, and hierarchy. The NFL’s participation in and production of hegemonic masculinity, alongside its practices of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and ableism, allows us to think deeply about the historical and contemporary systems of violence we are invested in and entertained by. Football becomes a cultural text to examine and learn from. The book also recognizes that the NFL also performs good in the world, drawing together communities, providing platforms for players to reach out to young athletes across class and race, and to inspire the best in what sports offers people. Through an analysis of American football and intersecting social issues, this book provides a language for critique that can generate conversation and accountability.
Coming January 2017, contributor in Feminism for the Real World, edited by Kelly Jensen (Algonquin Young Readers)
A YA anthology of essays, lists, poems, photos, and illustrations about feminism from a diverse range of well-known voices.
Contributors include Michaela and Mia DePrince, Matt Nathanson, Wendy Davis, Mindy Kaling, Roxane Gay, Kody Keplinger, Courtney Summers, Siobhan Vivian, Daniel José Older, Mikki Kendall, Sarah McCarry, Nova Ren Suma, Malinda Lo, and many more.
Find it at Goodreads.