SEXUAL ASSAULT

Venus and Adonis // Noontide Sun and Christopher Hunter

Incidents of women forcing men to have sex is are perhaps rarely discussed, and yet Shakespeare wrote about it back in 1593 in his poem Venus and Adonis. The poem tells the story of Venus, the goddess of love, and her unrequited passion for Adonis, an extremely handsome young man who would rather go hunting than give in to her seduction. The poem concludes that because Venus’s attack on Adonis ended in his death, love from then on would involve pain and suffering.

Some say it isn’t love that hurts but the expectations that go with it. It is certainly true that all love does not hurt, but forced sex is not love. It is aggression. Although Venus believed her lust for Adonis was love, it was not. Anger, frustration, money worries…all can lead to physical abuse of a partner. Safeline.org.uk report that one in six men have been targets of rape or sexual abuse today. That’s 5 million men in the UK. It can happen to any man, of any age, race, class or sexual identity. Men can feel trapped and isolated by misinformation about male sexual abuse and rape, such as the false view that men can’t be raped and fears that sexual abuse can make you into an abuser.

The psychological harm caused by this sense of humiliation can be very harmful. In Adonis’s case, it led to death. For most men however, the effects, though severe, are not that extreme. In our culture, boys are socialized not to be victims. 'If I am a victim, can I then also be a man?' Tradition tells us big boys fight back.  They don’t call the police to report that they have been victimized, especially by a woman. It doesn’t fit the male tough guy stereotype. And so they minimize or deny what has happened.

That is why sexual assault against men is often not reported. An article in the Telegraph last March reported that female sex offences against men are viewed as a rare and peculiar phenomenon, but this is far from the truth. Determining how common female-perpetrated sexual offending is a very difficult task, but an international study last year found that although it constituted 2.2 per cent of sexual offences officially reported to the police, the rates discovered in victimizations studies were six times that amount. That means more than one in nine sexual offences are committed by women. Venus was not alone in her determination to force Adonis to make love to her. Indeed, it speaks to a long and troublesome tradition. 

- Lynn Ruth Miller

 

Links relevant to this diagnosis:

 

Venus and Adonis - Noontide Sun

Venus and Adonis - Folger Shakespeare Library

Safeline

Survivors UK

Why Boys Do Not Tell About Sexual Abuse - Psychology Today

Does Love Always Hurt? - Quora Topic

Female Sex Offenders - Telegraph

Yvette // Urielle Klein-Mekongo

Urielle Klein-Mekongo, and the character she has created, Yvette, are young. Urielle and Yvette are young, capable, smart and talented women, who share an immense story about Yvette’s childhood trauma, using multi-character monologue, a looped audio score, and a physical presence which is strong but vulnerable, both available to an audience’s gaze yet firmly beyond our grasp. Urielle and Yvette are young, as are all those who experience childhood abuse and sexual assault at a young age. 

Over the summer, the New York State Legislature failed, yet again, to pass the Child Victims Act – to extend the statute of limitations on child abuse cases - or even to bring the law to a vote. And while Yvette lives in the UK, age 13, and her portrayal by Klein-Mekongo is complicated, rich and multi-faceted, I couldn’t help thinking about the other young survivors of abuse who, unlike Yvette, lack the confidence, or means, or mental preparedness to confront their abuser in their lifetime, pursue legal justice, or even find coping mechanisms to deal with trauma.

Yvette is a portrait of a woman at the epicenter of a world heavy with –isms: racism, sexism, body fascism, classism, colorism. And as audience members, we watch with a sense of powerlessness, waiting, hoping for something to disrupt the trajectory which is not inevitable, but feels probable, in a world which rarely privileges or looks out for young people in any manner which is more than just disciplinarily. That Yvette's story exists at all is a tragedy in any society, but the fact that it is as common as it is is an absolute disgrace, and a reminder that these isms- particularly sexism - are deeply rooted and need to be dismantle at every turn. What is rare, though, is the image of such a trauma being performed with such strength, dignity and commitment - the audience can watch with horror what happens to Yvette while simultaneously finding Klein-Kemongo's performance a reminder of the power of storytelling.

- Brian Lobel

 

Links relevant to this diagnosis:

Yvette - Urielle Klein-Mekongo

 On the New York State Child Victims Act - NY Daily News

Rates of Violent Crime and Sexual Offences - Office of National Statistics (UK)

Further Support: Rape Crisis England and Wales 

Race and Gender at Edinburgh Fringe: Excerpts from the Diary of a Black Woman at the Edinburgh Fringe by Selina Thompson - Exeunt

HOW IS UNCLE JOHN? / Creative Garage

HOW IS UNCLE JOHN? / Creative Garage

Abuse often comes shrouded in code. It comes in signs. Physical marks and distress, eyes that won’t meet yours, garbled speech, a sort of radical shrinking. There’s the less obvious, mental iterations. Rapid and sudden introversion, anxiety, depression: another sort of radical diminishing.

SPILL: A VERBATIM SHOW ABOUT SEX / Propolis Theatre

SPILL: A VERBATIM SHOW ABOUT SEX / Propolis Theatre

Verbatim theatre may have its limitations, but as a way of meshing together oral histories and competing testimonies it has an effectiveness that ‘conventional’ theatre and performance can be more leaden in conveying. 

THE INTERFERENCE / Pepperdine University (USA)

THE INTERFERENCE / Pepperdine University (USA)

A series of high-profile cases has drawn attention to the idea that a ‘rape culture’ exists in American colleges - a micro-climate where sexually predatory behaviour is both normalised, and enabled by social codes around masculinity. And one, too, where victims are either disbelieved or blamed. Cork-based playwright Lynda Radley’s latest play is a 360 degree view of a female student Karen’s experience of reporting a campus rape, and seeking justice. But unlike most reporting on campus rapes, it takes her perspective, showing the serious mental health impact of her experiences while her college football star rapist Smith emerges unscathed.