Original Research

The gendered embodiment of shame: Intersections of acquaintance rape, trauma and self-blame in Pompidou posse by Sarah Lotz

Jessica Murray
Literator | Vol 35, No 1 | a1090 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v35i1.1090 | © 2014 Jessica Murray | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 October 2013 | Published: 20 August 2014

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Jessica Murray, Department of English Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa


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Abstract

This article offers a feminist literary analysis of the gendered embodiment of shame in Pompidou posse by Sarah Lotz. In this novel, Lotz depicts female characters who are sexually assaulted by acquaintances and the resultant shame and trauma reside in their bodies. I will demonstrate that the embodied shame of these characters is distinctly gendered and that this shapes their attempts to cope with the aftermath of the sexual assaults. A close reading of the text reveals that the characters are exposed to overwhelming social messages of female culpability in a larger context that is rife with misogyny. As a result, they anticipate blame to such an extent that they blame themselves and internalise this blame as shame. By focusing on the bodies of the survivors, Lotz demonstrates the embodiment of shame, but she also suggests a corporeal challenge to silencing. The bodies of these characters speak loudly, albeit sometimes in the halting language of trauma, and they function to alert them to danger, to help them excavate memories that are made inaccessible and to testify to traumatic sexual assault.

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