Sunday, December 29, 2013

That damn reading response...

For months now, I have been trying to write a reading response to a selection of history books dealing with gendered violence. It's a stop-start-write-delete sort of process, and thus far my writing has been sniffing in apprehensive circles around the violence itself that is contained in what I have read.

Social location, I would posit, can be boiled down to one's proximity to concentric circles of violence that interlink from the past into the present.

Years ago, a poem I wrote had the line, "I'm just another paper doll; a carbon copy in a line" as I was thinking about the prevalence of violence, rape, specifically, and how it ties us together in such powerful ways. But some of the women I read about are anonymous and reduced to the violence they experience so much that I don't know if they are even a faceless paper doll. They are linked circles of statistics, the slash and hole of a percent sign. Reading about the violence experienced by women in the past is triggering on a personal level, but also disturbing academically. Court testimonies of long-dead women are quoted from at length. We get a fleeting glimpse into the pain and shame of people who cannot consent to us reading their words, or worse yet, reading what was written about them.

Is it an act of justice to expose this violence, or an act of injustice to re-expose victims and survivors of violence to the scrutiny of the present, after they have already been trampled down by the past?

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