Tuesday, April 13, 2010


In order to understand my own brand of confusion, and interpret the following, you may want to read the whole article I'm pulling the lines from (http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n21/jenny-diski/diary). It's about Roman Polanski, but Jenny Diski also writes about being raped at age 14. She says:
"My overall reaction solidified into contempt rather than shame. I didn’t think that it was the most terrible thing that had ever happened to me. It was a very unpleasant experience, it hurt and I was trapped. But I had no sense that I was especially violated by the rape itself, not more than I would have been by any attack on my person and freedom. In 1961 it didn’t go without saying that to be penetrated against one’s will was a kind of spiritual murder. I was more disgusted by him than I was shamed or diminished. A different zeitgeist, luckily for me."
I was thrown by that. By someone whose writing I really respected and enjoyed saying, effectively, that the cultural pathos of rape had deepened its horror. I'm not sure exactly what I thought before that. Maybe not a lot. Diski's passage slowly connected to my memories of Africa, where marriage, sex, and breeding are more or less economic relationships. That is the social set-up round sex in those parts. No-one talks about love - which seems, to me, to be the word my culture uses to sanctify sex. What happens, say, on Taranaki St, or on a larger scale in Cambodian sex tourism, is sex for money. Sex for money. That's what it is, isn't it? It's not rape. It's not love. As soon as you demote sex to 'another thing that happens' (which it could be, and I suspect, should be) the horror becomes merely the lack of choice. Now, I'm NOT going to get as deterministic as I sometimes do and say, shit, even this blog is (I believe to a very advanced degree) pre-determined, because I feel in very shaky territory. What I can say is that any number of events less horrific than rape are equally forced and choiceless. Marriage still operates in some cases as a protracted form of rape. But that's speaking metaphorically, which is disingenuous perhaps. I don't know. I'm a bit lost now. Sex isn't sacred. Sex is sex. Rape is what happens either side of that, perhaps.

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