Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Shifra Sharlin

Subject Categories

Women's Studies


My paper takes as its central focus the trials of Inez Garcia, a woman who was charged with the murder of a man who helped rape her in Soledad, CA in 1974. Garcia's trial in 1974, in which she was convicted of second-degree murder, and her retrial in 1977, in which the ruling was reversed, is often remembered as a cause célèbre of the second-wave women's movement that united diverse activists and yielded a major feminist legal victory. However, I argue that close examination of the trial and the feminist activism around it reveals a more paradoxical legacy. First, I track how Garcia functioned as both a literal and figurative political cause in which myriad second-wave feminists mapped out a highly conflicting politics of self-defense in her name. Second, I contend that the trial has had minimal impact on the broader feminist antiviolence movement.