October 24, 2014

Where is the female agency in the rape scene of Karoo Moose?

I would like to respond to the text of Karoo Moose by Lara foot Newton. The way in which the rape scene is depicted in the text hardly leaves any scope of agency for the victim, Thozama. Even her expressions are effaced by her tormentors by putting a net on her face. I feel this very way of portrayal of victimization of the woman makes her a subject of passive receptance and objectifies her sexuality. Though the game of football, a masculine game to the core, played by her molesters very aptly brings out the gendered aspect of the violence targeted at her, yet her complete lack of response at the football thrown at her makes her an inanimate object, devoid of subjectivity. She is indeed a small girl of fifteen, and it quite justified to be “defenseless” and “terrified” in a situation, where her own father barters her to her rapists. But for a courageous spirit like Thozama, who becomes the “moose-girl”, saves her sister and her daughter from Khola’s evil intensions, this kind of passivity distorts the very representation of trauma. The representation of trauma ought to empower the victim of trauma, not subject him/her to relive the moment of trauma. I believe the onstage version of this play has the potential to redo this matter of abject anonymousness of the victim. The two scenes: “the rape scene” and “the moose killing scene”, if done simultaneously might give an agency to the victimized. But the two scenes together might also cause confusion for the audience. Therefore a probable solution would be to do “the moose killing scene” in shadow. The net that covers Thozama’s face has to be removed and as she becomes subject to rape, she could respond to the actions of her friends who are on the moose hunt. This utter disjunction of action and emotion would give Thozama an empowered agency, nonetheless traumatized but non-negotiable and unputdownable. Her body might become the site of perpetuating terror and trauma but her mind remains free and brave and wild as the moose, she hunts. The fact that “rape” violates the body brutally is a fact, but it is also a fact that the female entity does not comprise of only of her violated persona, she is not a product of her disfigured organs, she is not only limited to the fragmented objectification of her mutilators. Thozama, as an entity rises above ‘just being a victim’; therefore I find her silent succumbing to her rapists in the rape scene as a masculine appropriation of a traumatic moment like “rape”, a way of dominating her outrageous courage, which they are unable to do till the end.

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