How can performance prevent rape?

On-stage performance can help us reimagine what we take for granted. This blog looks at how performance can explore different ways to be a woman or a man, and negotiate relationships that are flexible, fun, and freeing.

I suggest that performance can be used as a tool in rape prevention. I look at how performative methods of rape prevention may build upon and develop other forms of social education that work to end rape, creating possibilites for different ways to engage in intimate relationships.

This blog is a personal, theoretical, and performative exploration of how performance can be used in rape prevention.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Positive rape prevention?

Isn't it just better to focus on the good?

Can there be a politics of rape prevention that focuses on the good? Can methods of rape prevention seek to build up what is positive, or transformational, rather than focus directly on the problem?

Moira Carmody looks to ways to 'challenge the normalisation of intimate personal violence' through her sexual ethics program for young people.

Rather than looking at what is dangerous and what is safe, Carmody helps young people focus on what makes them feel good in relationships. Rather than impose a morality that insists women guard their virginity, the sexual ethics program explores different values with young people, and looks at some implications of these. The sexual ethics program only explicitly looks at rape towards the end of the program, before that focusing on desire and ethics.

I'm also thinking about what Catherine Waldby says in her paper destruction. Waldby talks about performing fantasies that challenge the rape script. The rape script inscribes men's bodies as dangerous, and women as having a 'vulnerable inner space'. Man give and women receive. So fantasies that challenge this script could involve the phallic woman, or the receptive man. Waldby is speaking specifically of sexual fantasies. She believes that sexual fantasies can be a method of rape prevention. Pretty positive huh?

It's such a movement from the old, yet still very popular of 'no means no' kinda campaign. the type that scares women into staying in their houses cos noone ever gets raped there. And the kind that advocates a kind of 'protector' mentality in men: as if they cannot be attacked.

I'm interested in Waldby's idea of fantasy as a way to challenge reality and then create new ones. I feel like we have to think things, imagine them, even play them out before we can do them.

Waldby also says that merely playing these games out with sex workers is not enough. It is not enough to strap on a dildo or be arse-fucked by a sex worker - we must do them in our everyday intimate relationships. Otherwise there is a kind of theme-park effect, in which the phallic woman and the receptive man contimnue to remain the Other. Reminds me of the Adelaide Fringe - does it really helps us Adelaideans embrace new ideas and artistic styles? Or is it just a visit to the freaks, like going to the circus to see the tatooed lady?

I think it does change us. It helps us see and feel safe in another way of being. It helps us to play and experiment, in safe ways, with other ways of doing things. It helps us to explore the other side without totally going there. I think it's really important.

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