I SPIT ON YOUR GENRE: Rape Revenge Cinema and Spectatorship – Kone summary
Through moving image and writing my practice engages with how to express difficulty. I have been working with issues of consent and the telling of sexual violence narratives for some years, I spit on your genre will continue this enquiry. I am applying for a grant in order consider these topics through ‘rape revenge’ cinema and in particular what it means to watch it. I will make an essay film about the rape revenge genre, in addition to producing a body of research, an article, and a screening programme.
Everyone (including abusers and victims) constructs their idea of what sexual violence is or is not, not only through personal experience but, through the stories and representations that circulate around us. So it is essential to ask what these narratives are, who makes them and under what conditions, what they look like and how they make us feel or react.
Rape revenge films are interesting as sites of conflict. Traditionally directed by men as a sensationalist mix of sex and violence – yet through a feminist lens, they could be viewed as ‘empowering’ works with strong on-screen heroines: vigilantes who take matters into their own hands to claw back their bodily autonomy. The friction between intention and end result is something to investigate, but these films are not merely ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and cannot be ‘reclaimed’ or ‘subverted’ cleanly. When a simple role reversal between the oppressor and the oppressed isn’t enough, where does that leave us as viewers, as ‘victims’, or as feminists? My project will navigate these questions.
Through centring the act of watching as opposed to just reinterpreting the content I can avoid the pitfalls of this kind of reclaiming. The screening programme and article create a forum for further discussion of this imagery and allows the public to take an active role in defining the strengths and limitations of the genre. These complex films are both liberatory and degrading – but that is what makes them so interesting.