Saturday, 15 September 2018

I am a knife - Jacqueline Rose

This article eloquently and with nuanced critique sums up in a productive way the current issues around sexual harassment. Critical of Kipnis, Rose uses psychoanalysis to look into recent books that address issues of rape, harassment, and female sexuality in order to present a thought-provoking argument on how to address the abuse of woman while leaving room for an explorative and liberating female sexuality.

She asks the question: "How can we acknowledge the viciousness of sexual harassment while leaving open the question of what sexuality at its wildest – most harmful and most exhilarating, sometimes both together – might be?"

"We need, then, to acknowledge the vagaries of human sexuality (which has always felt emancipatory to me); recognise its stubbornness once it has been locked in place (what the feminist Juliet Mitchell has described as the heavy undertow, the drag of sexual difference); insist that sexual harassment is unacceptable and must cease. Holding these apparently contradictory ideas in mind at the same time, moving on more than one front: for me this presents the greatest challenge raised by the present crisis. The tension between the various components of the issue perhaps helps us to understand why legal attempts to curtail harassment, as they have spread incrementally across campuses in the US, seem so often to be ineffective, to go awry, even to defeat themselves."

On Laura Kipnis's "wild diagnosis of ‘borderline personality disorder’" to Ludlow's accuser:

"One of its components, we are told, is ‘provocative or seductive behaviour’, at which point I find myself wanting to invoke Jane Gallop as an ally. Victimised andseductive. Far from being a sign of mental disturbance, this might instead be grounds for hope: it suggests that a woman’s ability to seduce hasn’t been completely quashed by ambient violence. Is it disordered, in a sexually disordered world, for a woman to feel something of both?"

And lastly, on Roxane Gay, having been gang raped at the age of 12:

"The legacy of that moment – above all a manic appetite that turned her body into a fortress against pain – is the subject of her memoir, Hunger, which was published last year: ‘If I was undesirable, I could keep more hurt away … My body could become so big it would never be broken again.’ "

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