Sunday Story Ratings #38: The Bobby-Soxer


The Bobby-Soxer by Jonathan Craig

Originally published 1953 in Manhunt (short story collection); this edition 1995

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Collected in: Hard-Boiled: An Anthology of American Crime Stories (ed. Bill Pronzini & Jack Adrian)



(V, L, S)

Violence {M}

Sexual Violence {R18+} {any depiction of sexual violence gets this rating automatically}

Coarse Language {M}

Sexual References {PG}




Two women present in story. Viewpoint character is seventeen, and revealed in twist ending to be a sex worker (i.e. we are meant to have the shocked realisation she wasn't the 'innocent' victim of attempted rape she appeared to be (even though she actually was)), pretending to be naively unaware of the interest she attracts from men; the other is part of the crowd gathered to condemn the attempted rapist, urging his death; no communication between them. Attempted rapist depicted as wild-eyed weirdo, visually differentiable from 'safe' men, other men so enraged by rape they crowd together to beat and kick him while helpless.


Heterosexual-only, framed entirely in terms of power, purity and commodity.

Race & Ethnicity:

No characters marked. Presuming all white US citizens.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

Apart from the from the would-be rapist looking "funny and wild-eyed", no mention.



This story reads like an MRA's paranoid fantasy. An apparently innocent girl, unaware of the lust she inspires, is assaulted by a stranger in an alley while out walking. Fortunately she screams, and an angry mob descends to begin beating the attempted rapist without a further word from her. The police request she come back with her parents to give a statement but - shock twist! - she continues on to her destination where we learn she is actually a sex worker. The editors even acknowledge the author's misogyny in the introduction as a running theme in his work (personally, I would have just not put the story in).