This essay explores the potential for representations of sexual violence to be framed as erotic, and received as sexually titillating. It focuses mainly on two different examples of representation, both concerning sexual violence in conflict: the photographs of American soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib, and the representation of mass rape during the Bosnian war in Colleen Wagner’s play The Monument. Drawing on the work of Weil and Bataille, and a range of material from later philosophers and performance scholars, the essay considers the complex relationship between the spectacle of the suffering body, its apparent vulnerability, and responses to that vulnerability from care to harm. Ignorance functions as a concept that shapes vulnerability as alien and thus as deserving of further cruelty, or as feminine and thus allied to eroticism. The essay interrogates the staging of the violated body as it raises questions about the spectatorial pleasures of violence, and the ethical and practical issues of representing the suffering body on stage or in media.
|Title of host publication||Oxford handbook of politics and performance|
|Editors||Milija Gluhovic, Shirin Rai, Silvija Jestrovic, M Saward|
|Place of Publication||Oxford|
|Publisher||Oxford University Press|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 20 Feb 2020|
- Sexual violence
- body in pain