Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Tyler Wall

Committee Members

Michelle Brown, Lois Presser


In this thesis the body cavity search (BCS) is discussed as a form of state penetration, understood as both physical touch and visual inspections. First, I define the BCS as a routine technology of state sexual violence that involves a coercive spectrum of access to precarious bodies. Following this, I situate my work within anti-carceral feminist perspectives on state sexual violence. In Part One, I historicize the emergence of the BCS while problematizing concepts such as “voluntary consent” and “reasonable suspicion.” Here I also approach to two of the most routine and ubiquitous sites of the BCS as state sexual violence: 1) as a key procedure performed at “intake” in jails/prisons, and 2) the BCS as “roadside” police procedure. In Part Two, I turn my focus to visual depictions of the BCS as they circulate in the US context, relying on the work of visual criminologists and other theorists of visuality. In my concluding remarks, I offer the notion of The Right to Remain Impenetrable as a critique of state sexual violence.

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