chapter  5
14 Pages

How not to give rape political significance


This chapter1 makes the claim that the meanings of rape should be interpreted in context, especially if we want to make sense of rape as politically significant, which I also claim is an important aim. I believe that feminists should simultaneously investigate the ways in which rape fulfills a variety of political functions and should insist on bringing rape into the public domain as an always politically significant phenomenon.2 This is needed because the usual systematic exclusion of rape from the considerations of the public-political realm is thoroughly intertwined with the exclusion of women as women3 from that realm, i.e., through the systematic privatization and parochialization of women’s interests and concerns as opposed to the ideological universalization of men’s. I have argued elsewhere (Du Toit 2007) that such exclusion of women from the foundation of the state is typical of western state formation, and it is globalized to the extent that the state itself is globalized (Pateman 1988; Irigaray 1985). Moreover, I see the invisibility or “impossibility” of rape as a symptom of this blind-spot or distortion (Irigaray’s “matricide”) at the basis of the state.4