Revision of the self; revision of societal attitudes feminist critical approaches to female rape memoir

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Cass Chapman (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
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Abstract: Rape is a social, cultural, and criminal phenomenon around the world. The statistics pertaining to rape, in the United States alone, demonstrate what a serious problem it is. Silence and shame have previously shrouded the thousands of victims of rape who have met with distant, cold, and often disbelieving reactions to their experience. Innate discomfort and fear of rape leads many to turn their backs on rape survivors and, as a result, far too many women have chosen to remain silent about their horrific experiences. Lucky by Alice Sebold, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure by Dorothy Allison, and After Silence: Rape and My Journey Back by Nancy Venable Raine are all examples of the contemporary female memoir about rape; many are now being published and are beginning to break down this wall of silence by presenting graphic and sometimes disturbing, but extremely important details about rape and its effects. Each demonstrates the effects of such trauma both physically and mentally. Rape survivors, after their sexual assault, lose touch with the person they were before the experience, and usually spend many years enduring symptoms of denial, self-loathing, self-blame, and even suicidal feelings, exemplifying Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Only in facing the pain of their experience head on, revising their sense of self, and accepting that they cannot be the women they were before being raped, can they rebuild their lives. With self-acceptance and eventual embrace of their newly developed selves calm, inner peace, and resolution can be found. Despite the outmoded theories of Sigmund Freud et al. that suggest rape is a fulfillment of women’s deepest sexual fantasies, contemporary memoirs are detailing the brutal reality of rape and the severe psychological impact this personal violation has upon its victims. Patriarchal societies around the world have had limited understanding of rape and the way in which it destroys lives, often choosing to ignore its reality. In adopting a narrative that speaks on behalf of all rape victims, a universal “I”, these memoirists, among others, are giving a voice to rape survivors and forcing its presence into the face of society.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts.
Language: English
Date: 2009
Allison Dorothy Two or three things I know for sure, Raine Nancy Venable After silence: rape and my journey back, Rape victims--United States--Case studies, Rape victims--United States--Psychological aspects, Sebold Alice Lucky, Violent crimes--United States--Psychological aspects, Women--Crimes against--United States
Sebold, Alice. Lucky
Allison, Dorothy. Two or three things I know for sure
Raine, Nancy Venable. After silence: rape and my journey back
Rape victims -- United States -- Case studies
Women -- Crimes against -- United States
Rape victims -- United States -- Psychological aspects
Violent crimes -- United States -- Psychological aspects

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