Clementine Edwards: Propositions: To Complicate the Position of Sexual Trauma


Advisor/tutor: Marina Vishmidt
Arnhem, June 2018


Using the gesture as methodology, this thesis sets out to investigate the following proposition: to complicate the position of having been raped.

The thesis draws on a range of written and visual material that is combined with the author’s biographical experience. Its interdisciplinary nature emphasises the plurality of the experience of sexual trauma, whereby I place sexual trauma as an extension of the rape experience. The essay spans queer theory and affect theory, feminist legal theory and cultural theory, decoloniality and critical race theory, philosophy, psychoanalysis and psychology.

The thesis’ work is to test binaries such as raped/rapist, victim perpetrator, consensual sex/rape, before/after, desire/disgust, masculine/feminine, and victim/survivor and in so doing, reject the narrative of return – that is, to a ‘healthy’ ‘original’ individual state after sexual assault. I open by thinking through the possibility of eeriness in the rape experience, and then address the unintelligibility of sexual experience, the complexity of consent and power within legal frameworks, who has rights to subjecthood and therefore who ‘has’ a body, how trauma is remembered – individually and intergenerationally – the temporal and formal complexity of sexual trauma, loving one’s rapist/s and rape as encounter, post-rape worlds and thinking through the complications of disgust and attraction in the framework of the rape experience.

The stance is reflected in the essay form itself, which is non-linear. The function of time, trauma and memory are central to the writing’s enquiry into non-linearity, whereby the essay’s form and content are ‘tested’.