By Louise du Toit
This publication deals a severe feminist standpoint at the broadly debated subject of transitional justice and forgiveness. Louise Du Toit examines the phenomenon of rape with a feminist philosophical discourse touching on women’s or ‘feminine’ subjectivity and selfhood. She demonstrates how the hierarchical dichotomy of male lively as opposed to woman passive sexuality – which obscures the real nature of rape – is embedded within the dominant western symbolic body. via a Hegelian and phenomenological examining of first-person money owed by means of rape sufferers, she excavates an figuring out of rape that still starts off to open up a manner out of the denial and destruction of lady sexual subjectivity.
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Additional resources for A Philosophical Investigation of Rape: The Making and Unmaking of the Feminine Self
It is striking that in the literature on rape, and in rape verdicts, two distinct and mutually contradicting languages or ‘stories’ about rape can be discerned. The one story speaks of what I call the impossibility and the other about the possibility of rape. I deal with the first story about the impossibility of rape in this chapter and with the second story in the next one. By the impossibility of rape I mean that rape is fundamentally misconstrued in this version or understanding of it, to the extent that its true nature—the violent erasure of a woman victim’s sexual subjectivity—disappears from view, and rape properly understood is regarded as an impossibility.
Pure’ forgiveness, unconditional and without sovereignty, belongs to that which exceeds the political (the expedient, the calculated, the transparent, the reasonable) but which should nevertheless be respected by the political. This stance leaves him critical of the use of forgiveness in the South African TRC process (for example) where he sees forgiveness as being reduced to pragmatic processes of reconciliation, and where respect for pure forgiveness has thus been forgotten. The two poles he identifies, namely that of forgiveness understood in terms of nonnegotiable, uneconomic, apolitical, nonstrategic unconditionality (or pure forgiveness) and forgiveness as political processes of reconciliation and reconstitution of the health or normality of the corpus socians, are simultaneously irreducible to one another and they remain indissociable.
It reinforces their pervasiveness in—through their ‘present absence’ from—a system for which they act as guardians, gate-keepers and symbolic guarantees. My feminist reading of the struggle and transition is supported by texts such as Krog’s book and the report on the Special Women’s Hearing (cf. de Villiers, 1998) before the TRC. It is clear from these texts, one of the most common ways in which women militants were ‘broken’ in jail was through communicating to them that ‘real women’ are outside of politics and ‘safely’ at home, and are, moreover, ‘responsibly’ looking after their families—a sentiment echoed by some inside the liberation movement11.