Individual Submission Summary

Direct link:

How Religion Regulates Women’s Sexuality in a U.S. State Women’s Prison

Wed, Nov 15, 5:00 to 6:20pm, Marriott, Grand Ballroom Salon C, 5th Floor


Existing literature on incarcerated women emphasizes the role of same-sex romantic relationships behind bars in coping with the hardships of prison life. However, this literature has overlooked the countervailing role of religion in inmates’ lives. Drawing upon 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork inside a state women’s prison, I find that due to their availability and prevalence, religious programs facilitated same-sex relationships at the very same time they denounced them. Largely unpatrolled, religious programs were, perhaps unwittingly, a common space for inmate couples to spend time together. Meanwhile, inmates who participated heavily in conservative Protestant programs relinquished homosexual relationships, instead embracing ideals of femininity and submission. These most devout inmates reported resentment towards couples hooking up during religious programs, and informally sanctioned them through verbal and written complaints. In this way, conservative Protestant religious programs worked seamlessly in the prison context to facilitate state control of incarcerated women’s sexuality.


©2020 All Academic, Inc.   |   Privacy Policy