Rape, Bodily Presence, and “Still Activism”
Agency of Indigenous Women
Keywords:Indigenous women, sexual assault, resistance, bodily presence, still activism
The vulnerability of Indigenous women has been portrayed in Native American novels such as Three Day Road (2005) by Joseph Boyden, The Round House (2012) by Louise Erdrich, and There There (2018) by Tommy Orange. These three novels are similar in their portrayal of Native women who are raped, traumatized, and yet survive. Boyden’s Niska, Erdrich’s Geraldine, and Orange’s Jacquie go through sexual assault and rape either by non-Native white men or by Native men. None of them exhibit the types of concrete resistance we as readers might expect. Rather the victims seem to remain visibly indifferent to their physical assault and surrender their agency. However, despite having gone through such traumatic experiences, they do not stop living, neither do they let their bodies break down. Building on Kelly Klein’s “still activism” theory as a mode of protest, Judith Butler’s concept of how the body speaks politically, and Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of passive resistance, this essay examines these three characters’ apparent non-resistance to their assaulters and establish their silence, survival, and continuity as strong resistance to the sexual, mental, and historical violences that they have experienced.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Rowshan Jahan Chowdhury
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