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In the absence of word and body:

hegemonic implications of "victim"

and "survivor" in women's narratives
of sexual violence.
by Tami Spry
At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as
resistance, especially if one had no choice.
- Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
In 1979, at 19 years old, I entered the circles of women who have experienced sexual
violence. After the night it occurred, it took me two years to tell that story again. Since
that time I have been a teller of my own and witness to many other women's
experiences involving violence against women. And in the 14 years since my first telling,
I remain uncomfortable with and psychically fragmented by the few and phallocentric
linguistic options available for telling a woman's story of violence. As I struggled to free
myself from my assailant, I did not know I would have a similar struggle in seeking to
understand my experience from within the hegemonic assault of a phallocentric language
that allows my body to be spoken of only as an object that things are done to, or as
erased from the experience completely. As Maya Angelou's quote indicates, acts and
issues of surrender, resistance, and choice become highly complex and contested when
considering the acts and issues of sexual violence against women.
Specifically, I will critique two of the most predominant labels attached to women who
have experienced sexual violence. Labeling a woman as a victim or survivor of sexual
violence hegmonizes and conceals her bodily experience from her by offering these
linguistically phallocentric perspectives from which to tell her story. I argue that the
agency of a woman as meaning maker of her own experience is denied in having to
choose between the categories of victim or survivor. The pain and confusion following
the assault is further complicated by having to structure and make sense of her
experience within the assailant's language. She is already and always held in relation to
the phallus; she is victim to it or survivor of it. The question then becomes, How can a
woman's experience of sexual violence be defined from her perspective, not as victim of
or survivor of, but as a woman with narrative agency, with the opportunity to narrate the
experience from the site of her own active body? How can one tell a story of sexual
violence from a woman's bodily narrative point of view? Though vaginal rape is a
biological (f)act known only to women, our language labels/defines the experience from
the perspective of the phallus, thereby continuing the discursive separation of a woman
from her own bodily knowledge, from her self as a knower, a self-reflexive agent in the
construction of her reality.
I will first address why our language has no discursive room for a woman's story of
sexual violence by discussing the concepts of victim and survivor as metaphors which
construct hegemonic linguistic categories. We use these categories to tell or witness
sexual violence narratives. I will argue that these categories deny a woman narrative
agency by representing her body from a phallocentric perspective, or erasing her body
from the expression of the experience altogether. Further, the categories are reductive of
the intimacy and diversity of sexual violence experiences, thereby disallowing a complex
and problemitized understanding of sexual violence to be expressed by a woman to her
self and her culture. This discussion will be followed by a (re)locating of a woman's body
as an active agent in the telling and defining of sexual violence. I will then offer the
concept of a liberatory epistemology which allows for a "room of one's own," a
(re)located site where a woman might tell a story of sexual violence where she - her
body - is the locus of meaning for her experience.
But first - mired as they are in a phallocentric language system - I must tell my stories.
They must be told here as they are woven into the fabric of this work, its concepts and
origins. In 1987 as a white female middle-class graduate student working on my Ph.D,
an interpersonal communication class that I was teaching had entered into a rather
disclosive discussion about gender relations. The time seemed right. I told my story. I
had never told it in front of this many people. I recounted how mine was the rare "man
jumping out of the bushes" assault, how he grabbed me from behind, dragged me down
a 50 foot river bank pulling at my shirt and the top of my pants. I told how I kicked,
screamed, elbowed, cursed, and eventually clawed my way up the bank of the Huron
river. The police man typed in "attempted rape." In other words, no penetration of
phallus. I had fought the phallus and won. The class seemed quite taken with and
focused upon the idea that I had "fought off" the assailant. And although I heard myself
stressing the idea that as I did not know if the man was "armed" this fighting could have
gotten me killed, I realized that their reactions were celebrating and respective of this
traditional form of resistance. I later wondered if I would have told the story had I
chosen a less aggressive form of resistance. I seriously doubt that that story would have
been as equally celebrated.
Immediately after class a young woman, who I will call Beth, and who spoke very little
during the course, approached me. She was visibly upset and asked if she could talk with
me in my office. With tears and great anguish Beth recounted her acquaintance rape, but
concentrated primarily on and seemed most ashamed by the idea that she had not
"fought back." She said she was frozen and afraid and just wanted it to stop. She
wondered then if she had somehow "allowed" it to happen. Beth said that people always
ask her if she "fought back." She said she was presently in counseling, but that she had
also been overeating so as not to be "attractive to men" anymore. Not only did this
woman feel shame and degradation about the assault, she was also made to feel
ashamed about her reaction during the assault.
So I sit here with my red badge of courage pinned to my brave and stouthearted chest, a
survivor in a "battle of the sexes." I am to feel pride in the telling of my story. My chosen
form of resistance is acceptable to a patriarchal Darwinian culture. Within this dualistic
construct then, a moral judgment is passed down; within this dichotomous frame the
survivor is aloud to retain a measure of dignity and integrity while the victim is cast to
receive pity. Following a most intimate kind of brutal assault, her actions are questioned,
mine are celebrated. Yet, certainly, the measure of dignity and integrity afforded the
survivor is there to perpetuate further submission to and gain further admission into the
master's house. The badge of courage is a master's tool, it will not dismantle. My chest
appears brave and stouthearted only in relation to an androcentric reaction to the form
of resistance I happened to chose. Beth's form of resistance - although viewed as
morally questionable (which is also an acceptable androcentric view of women) - also
gains her admission into the master's house, for there can be no survivors without
victims, masters without slaves. And Beth and I and all of the circles of women know
where we are supposed to fit in the latter dichotomy.
The Absence of the Word and the Body
With its foundations in dualism, western thought is historically tangled in dichotomous
distinctions of mind/body, rational/emotional, order/chaos, sacred/secular,
objective/subjective. And within its further entanglements of white supremacy and
misogyny, has situated corporeal embodiments of its hegemony such as women, people
of color, and the body itself at the negative end of its linear thought processes. Critical
theorists have clearly articulated the linguistic connections rooted in western thought
which situates man as the builders of high culture and women bound to nature, body,
earth, indicating a moral hierarchy where woman is at the bottom. Donna Wilshire
writes, "Hierarchical dualisms - with their prejudice for Mind (i.e., maleness) and bias
against the Body and Matter (i.e., femaleness) - lie at the foundations of western
epistemology and moral thought" (95). Upon the European insurgence of land ownership
and Christianity, woman's connection to her body and its power of reproduction was
feared and thus linguistically denigrated causing a woman to separate herself not from a
powerful, passionate, life-giving agent, but a base, profane, messy, dirty object in
constant need of modification through make-up, diets, and restrictive clothing. Seeing
one's body through a European white male gaze, hearing and speaking one's experience
of that body through a phallocentric discourse makes the discovery and articulation of
self/body centered knowledge difficult to attain.
A further hegemonic constraint to body centered knowledge involves the suppression of
emotion required if one is to be considered logical under a western thought doctrine. In
the mind/body separation constructed by western thought, emotions are housed in the
body; they are viewed as a pollutant to logic, a disfigurement to reason. The body is
viewed as intellectually bereft and academically unseemly. The argument of body
centered knowledge rests upon the tenent that knowledge is housed in and emanates
from the body. Within misogynist western logic, women are believed more susceptible to
the "hysterics" of emotions. Our language separates not only women, but men as well
from words which may express emotional experience.
The dualistic phallocentric conceptualizations surrounding the words victim and survivor
in relation to sexual violence construct hegemonic linguistic categories. By linguistic
categories I mean the thoughts and words chosen to describe an experience, in this
case, the experience of a woman as victim or survivor of sexual assault. These linguistic
categories are directly reflective of two discursive acts which hegemonize and separate a
woman from her own bodily experience of sexual violence. First, the victim and survivor
categories tell the woman's story from a phallocentric perspective by referring to the
woman's experience only in relation to the active phallic (male) body. Second, the
categories seek to erase or conceal the woman's active body from the experience. My
discussion will address both of these acts in tandem as they simultaneously inscribe and
reify one another.
In discussing the exclusion of women's perspectives and experiences from naming and
defining language, Deborah Cameron writes of the:
absence of words for certain feelings and ideas, those the male language-makers have
chosen not to 'name' because they do not fit in with the official male worldview. Since
feelings and ideas without words to express them are fleeting, inchoate, and
unrecognized by the culture at large, our languages are less than perfect vehicles for
expressing women's most pressing concerns (13).
When following the argument that language shapes reality, women live in a reality that
does not recognize the complexity and diversity of their experiences with sexual assault
because the words to describe them do not presently exist. The uncomfortability and
psychic fragmentation which I and many women feel in the telling of our story is the lack
of words to express the ideas, ideas which are not dualistic or phallocentric. This kind of
hegemony silences a woman from speaking her experience to society and, more
importantly, to her self. The absence of woman centered language perpetuates
misunderstanding of sexual violence since women, as intimate knowers of the
experience, must struggle to articulate it.
Since a woman's body is primary in the experience of rape and other sexual violences,
concerns about the linguistic phallocentrism and the erasure of a woman's body from the
discursive action of telling and understanding are tantamount in feminist criticism.
Because the body is a primary cultural symbol which functions as a central emblem of
class, gender, and other forms of social stratification, language which interrogates the
colonializing and normalizing of bodily cultural symbols is needed when seeking to
express experiences not in keeping with dominant cultural codes. The separation of
woman from her body is a result of making a woman's body absent through the linguistic
focus on the phallus, or by defining her body from a phallocentric perspective. In working
toward reconstructing feminist discourse on the body, Susan Bordo writes, "The body, as
anthropologist Mary Douglas has argued, is a powerful symbolic form, a surface on which
the central rules, hierarchies, and even metaphysical commitments of a culture are
inscribed and thus reinforced through the concrete language of the body" (13). "The
concrete language of the body" takes on particular significance when the discursive
activities of a language seek to silence or hegemonize the stories of particular bodily
experiences such as sexual assault. The cultural rules and hierarchies of gender specific
reactions to and stories about sexual violence become reified as they are inscribed (or
concretized) and reinforced by a dualistic phallocentric language. In discussing the
body's relation to language and literacy, Carolyn Marvin writes, "For some time the body
has been the focus of a paradigm in which it is both a classifying social metaphor and a
locus of social action where struggles for domination are played out" (129).
Conceptualizations of victim and survivor suggests that something has ultimately been
done to a woman. Arleen Dallory writes, "Not only has woman's voice or experience been
excluded from the subject matter of western knowledge, but even when the discourse is
'about' women, or woman are the speaking subjects, (it) they still speak(s) according to
phallocentric codes" (53). Such discourse objectifies the experience by removing the
focus of the action from the woman's body to the perpetrator's. The language of victim
or survivor defines the meaning of the assault in relation to his action rather than her
experience; she survived it or was a victim of it. The perpetrator's body is viewed as the
locus of action and power. Dallery writes, "Male or phallocentric discursive practices have
historically shaped and demarcated woman's body for herself" (59). A woman's body is
viewed as surviving a powerful force or being victim to a powerful force, rather than
existing as a powerful force in its own right. Within the restrictive dualistic
conceptualization of victim or survivor, a woman's body is viewed as an object that
something was done to, that was ultimately overpowered. A body that is not under her
power is not, in a very real sense, her own. Dallory states, "Woman's body is already
colonized by the hegemony of male desire; it is not your body" (55). The power and
agency of her body is denigrated or erased completely as we are linguistically asked to
focus not on her, but rather on what was done to her by the male body.
Peggy Phelen addresses the co-optation and/or erasure of the female body in writing
about the performative tactics of anti-abortion activists. In a chapter on the use of fetal
images by white men, she writes, "Erasing the woman from the image has allowed the
fetal form to become a token in discourse of and about men. Cropped out of the picture,
the pregnant woman's life and reasoning are rendered both invisible and irrelevant"
(133). Similarly, the image of a woman's body as powerful agent in an assault is often
"cropped out." The survived or victimized body of a woman during or after sexual assault
becomes a familiarized image and token of women's cultural existence. Rape and assault
discourse perpetuates images about the power of men by linguistically tokenizing a
woman's body as overpowered by man. Her body as a reasoning entity with power and
discursive agency is invisible.
Equally disturbing is the body that is visible as a cultural symbol, the female body that is
viewed as always and already overpowered by the phallus or the threat of the powerful
(violent) phallus. In a particularly insightful and articulate critique of the use of video in
the Rodney King trail, Judith Butler problemitizes the image of Rodney King's body and
its use as a cultural image of racism. She states:
The video was used as "evidence" to support the claim that the frozen black male body
on the ground receiving blows was himself producing those blows, about to produce
them, was himself the imminent threat of a blow and, therefore, was himself responsible
for the blows he received . . . According to this racist episteme, he is hit in exchange for
the blows he never delivered, but which he is, by virtue of his blackness, always about to
deliver (1993; 18-19).
Narrating a woman's experience of sexual violence as a victim or survivor makes perfect
sense in a phallocentric discourse as the inherent sexism and misogyny in the discourse
emblemizes her as a symbol of powerlessness. We may feel sorrow and pity for her, but
her survived or victimized body is evidence for the appropriateness of the predominant
discursive acts used to describe her experience. The emblem of her overpowered body
reifies the images created by the linguistic categories - evidence for the existence of
patriarchy. In a dualistic Darwinian culture and language system there must be concrete
evidence of winners and losers, of the weak and the strong, of the moral and immoral.
Assaulted bodies offer such evidence. Survivor/victim linguistic categories perpetuate
and reify the powerful symbol of the powerless woman.
Further, what kind of hegemonizing linguistic categories are evidenced by the sexually
assaulted black or red or yellow female body, the expensively clad or aged female body?
What discursive opportunities are available to describe the complexities of race and class
when telling one's story of sexual assault? Through the use of victim/survivor linguistic
categories, the female body - and to a larger extent the female body of color - is reified
as a social classifying object, an object used as "evidence" of the power of the racist
phallus, as register of women's relegatory place within the social strata.
When the body is erased or used as a symbol to silence its self, knowledge situated
within the body is unavailable to the self, or if discovered, ridiculed as base or profane.
Bodily knowledge is restricted by not only linguistic patterns of western thought, but also
through the view that the body is an entity incapable of literacy. This has particular
implications for women as they have been historically and culturally connected to
conceptualizations of the body as an emotional, unruly, and profane entity. In western
episteme, all valid knowledge and creation of knowledge occurs in the Mind. Being
connected to or ruled by the body, then, would render one incapable of intellectual
pursuits, i.e. the creation of knowledge. Within this paradigm, those who are ruled by the
body are illiterate. In problemitizing the cultural and historical concepts and practices of
the body and literacy, Carolyn Marvin writes:
Though literacy cannot be taught or practiced without bodies, bodies have rarely been
considered as a relevant dimension of literacy theory. That bodies are thought to be
irrelevant to literacy, or capable of corrupting it, is a useful fiction. In fact, bodies are
displayed or concealed at different levels in literate practice to accomplish social work,
namely to locate their owners in a social and moral order. A mark of literate competence
is skill in disguising or erasing the contribution of one's own body to the process of
textual production and practice. A mark of literate power is the freedom to command
other bodies for textual display or concealment, as the occasion warrants (129).
Here we see that displaying or concealing the body in and from knowledge construction
is viewed traditionally as an act of literacy as well as an act of power over the owners of
those concealed bodies. As in Phelen's argument, the pregnant woman's body is
concealed while the body of the fetus is displayed. If the woman's body is recognized, it
is revealed as corrupting the body of the fetus, clearly marking who holds the literate
power of representation in defining reproductive "rights." Similarly in Butler's argument,
Rodney King's body is displayed in video not as evidence of white racism, but as a
cultural command/lesson on white supremacy taught to us by those who hold literate
power. The beating is justified by the marking of his body as the corporeal embodiment
of violence against whites. Marvin continues, "The body filtered through literacy and
positioned in terms of it is a social sorting device, part of a system for creating,
perpetrating, and justifying the allocation of honor, purity, and power as social
resources." Through Phelen's and Butler's arguments, then, female bodies and bodies
with color are used as social sorting devices by justifying them as bodies without honor,
purity, and certainly without power. The body of the woman as meaning-making agent is
concealed. What is revealed to her and her culture is the sexually assaulted body as a
site of illiteracy. Any claims made from this site are thus viewed as illiterate, easily
dismissed or denied.
Although a woman's body is the site upon which sexual violence occurs, a woman and
her culture are denied access to its experience and knowledge; rather, a woman's body
is coopted by a language system which (re)presents the assaulted female body as
illiterate and powerless. If knowledge is power, then those who define what knowledge is
and where it is found are the power holders. In their chapter, "Presence of Mind in the
Absence of Body," Linda Brodkey and Michelle Fine find further evidence of women
separating their self from their body for the purpose of being viewed as literate and
competent. Brodkey and Fine surveyed female graduate students about sexual
harassment in academe. They concentrate specifically on the ways in which the women
positioned themselves as narrators of the harassing events. Brodkey and Fine write, "The
narrative positions women assign themselves suggests that they understand their own
survival to depend on the ability to cleave their minds from their bodies. This mind/body
split reproduces in each of them the very cultural ideology that has historically been used
to distinguish men from women and justify gender oppression" (81). In seeking to
conceptualize themselves as intelligent, competent agents, the women spoke rarely of
the pain and anguish related to their harassed bodies and instead concentrated on
explaining the supposed motivations of the perpetrators. Again, the narrative focus, the
primary experiential focus is on the male perpetrator, what he did and why he did it.
Certainly the motivations of the perpetrator need processing, however it becomes
problematic when these are the primary concerns at the expense of processing one's
own experience. Here the master's linguistic tools emphasize and empathize the male
experience of female oppression. "We see each woman student as offering to pay an
exorbitant, not to mention impossible, price for the coherent self represented in her
narrative. In exchange for her mind, she leaves her body to science" (Brodkey and Fine,
The linguistic constructs of victim and survivor in discursive acts of sexual assault not
only separate her from, but pit a woman against her body as she tries to deny it in the
hopes of being seen as competent and intelligent. However, the linguistic double bind is
that woman is restricted to the dualistic pairings with the body, earth, nature, impure
notions of sensuality. She is asked to deny her body when telling her experience, then
told she is nothing more than her body. The concealment or representation of her body
is used to tell a man's story and/or as a relagative social stratifying agent. How can a
woman tell her story when her body is not present, presented in a phallocentric
framework, or represented as illiterate? These discursive practices disallow a woman
narrative agency, as well as denying and/or dismissing the intimacy and diversity of
sexual violence experiences, thereby disallowing a complex and problemitized
understanding of sexual violence to a woman and her culture.
Liberatory Epistemology: (Re)locating Narrative Agency in the Body
In response to a phallocentric dislocation of a woman's body and story, I offer the
concept of a liberatory epistemology. I would define this term as a liberation of ways of
knowing, of exploring how we know what we know, the discovery of a "room [body] of
one's own," a site where a woman might tell a story of sexual violence where she - her
body - is the locus of meaning for her experience. A liberatory epistemology is similar to
bell hooks' concept of a liberatory pedagogy where as teachers and learners we seek to
decolonize our minds from western white male normative methods of the nature of
knowledge and knowledge construction (hooks 1990). We explore the decolonized body
and cultures as sites of knowledge. These are places where difference is expected and
explored, where linguistic categories and frames of reference are mutable. When
addressing liberatory ways of knowing, Bettina Aptheker writes:
It is to recognize a woman's strategies for coping, surviving, shaping, and changing the
parameters of their existence on their own terms, and not in contrast to predominantly
male strategies as if these were the natural, normative, or correct models. To do this is
to begin to designate the categories of analysis that mark women's knowledge of the
world, women's interpretation of events, women's standpoint. If this designation can be
achieved it will allow for a different kind of philosophical space, for an ordering of
woman's experience as knowledge, for an emancipatory vision rooted in our own
grounds (1989; 14-15)
Aptheker locates women as the prime narrators of their experience and views that
narrative as knowledge. "A different kind of philosophical space" can allow for the
intimacy and diversity of experience so desperately absent in restrictive discursive
categories like victim and survivor. In decolonizing our minds from normative ways of
knowing and "universal" discursive acts, literacy can be (re)located within the body. This
(re)location could assist a woman in thinking and speaking from a bodily locus of
meaning where her thoughts are liberated from phallocentric dualistic notions of cultural
truths. The complexities of experience and identity are revealed through bodily dialogic
engagement with self and culture. The culturally symbolic form of the body is motile and
dynamic and seen as an expression rather than repression of knowledge and identity.
This body is not dislocated or erased from her thoughts; rather it is seen as a site where
diverse and intimate truths are inscribed within, upon, and around it.
Within the (re)location of a woman's body as meaning making agent, a liberatory
epistemology includes the actual telling of the experience as a performative liberatory
act. The telling of her own story from a perspective that represents her body as the locus
of meaning for her own reality empowers the teller by allowing her to hear and see
herself as constative and "literate," possessing agency and authority in the defining and
telling of her experience. Theorists in performance studies and oral narrative theory have
clearly argued the self-reflexive and self-definitional power of the performance of
personal oral narratives (Corey 1993; Langellier 1989, 1986; The Personal Narratives
Group 1989; Peterson 1987; Minister 1987). In their article, "(En)Gendered (and
Endangered) Subjects: Writing, Reading, Performing, and Theorizing Feminist Criticism,"
Kay Ellen Capo and Darlene M. Hantzis write:
Feminist criticism is itself a performance which resituates self and world. Using
performance to understand the culturally regulated "self," feminist critical theory reveals
and challenges that regulation and becomes an instrument of transformation. . . .The
feminist method of shattering language and making space opens up a rich site for
articulating oppression (252-253).
Judith Butler's theory of gender construction through performance has done much to
articulate and advance theories of identity as a gendered performance. Conceptualizing
women as victim or survivor of sexual violence also contributes to what Butler refers to
as the "reified status" of gender (1990:271). If gender is indeed constituted through
cultural performances of normalized gender, then framing women's personal narratives
as stories of victimization or survival contributes to a stagnant view of gender, one which
erases or phallocentrically displays women's bodies, perpetuating rather than challenging
patriarchal definitions of gender.
Reconceptualizing a woman as narrator of her own bodily experience is evident in
viewing the body as an inscribed text of experience. When articulating the politics of
"writing (the) body" Dallory applies ecriture feminine, which she defines as a
deconstmction of phallic organizations of sexuality. Ecriture feminine views the body as a
text upon and within which a woman constructs a discourse of "multiple otherness," an
alternate way to view bodily knowledge which displaces dualistic oppositional structures
of western thought and patriarchy. Dallory argues, "Writing the body, then, is both
constative and performative. It signifies those bodily territories that have been kept
under seal; it figures the body" (59). In this sense, the narrating of rape becomes a
performed bodily inscribed text, an autobiographical text written on and in the soft,
strong, moist and colorful folds and recesses of her body. Here, a woman is the doer, the
writer, the focus of the experience. Her body is the diary, the journal recording the
intimacy and particularity of her experience. Dallory continues,
The characteristics of women's writing are, therefore, based on the significations of a
woman's body: the otherness within the self in pregnancy; the two lips of the labia, both
one yet another, signify woman's openness to otherness in writing. . . . Writing the body
is writing a new text - not with a phallic pen - new inscriptions of woman's body separate
from and undermining the phallocentric coding of women's body that produces the
censure, erasure, repression of woman's . . . alterite (59).
This relocated bodily agency in writing/telling/performing allows the narrative to change,
move, clarify as the woman continues to construct more meaning of the experience by
internally dialoging with her body.
This performative view of liberating epistemology by (re)locating and (re)presenting
sexual violence narratives frees the experiences from the shackles of phallocentric
linguistic limitations, positioning women as the writers/narrators of their own bodily
texts, texts that go far beyond survival or victimization. It foregrounds differences,
intimacy, agency, the multivocality of women, women's bodies, and their complex
diverse experiences with sexual violence. Performing/telling one's story from that room
(body) of one's own provides the opportunity for epistemological understanding for the
teller. It provides cultures with a problemitized dynamic understanding of sexual
violence. Moreover, we cannot have the body without the word; we cannot construct a
(re)located body without a (dis)placed language. When I (re)member my body being
dragged down the riverbank I can only know and feel what happened to my body, not in
relation to his, but in relation to my own selfhood. As performance theorist Elizabeth Bell
argues, this kind of performance process truly is "women's work." Bell writes, "Locating
the power of performance in the performer is an historically, culturally, and aesthetically
frightening strategy, for the excesses of performer as/is woman are abundant,
dangerous, and subversive" (370).
I look forward to a time and space where women with differing experiences of sexual
assault can speak to one another from beyond a language that does not ask them to be
divisive with one another and dismissive or exclusionary of their bodily knowledge. It is a
space and time where circles of women can speak an intimate miread of diverse
experiences originating from their own bodies and resulting in a remaking of our own
languages. It is a reconceptualization of the form and function of a woman's body, her
story, her reality bell hooks speaks to "those of us who dare to desire differently." She
It is also about transforming the image, creating alternatives, asking ourselves questions
about what types of images subvert, pose critical alternatives, and transform our
worldviews and move us away from dualistic thinking about good and bad. Making a
space for the transgressive image, the outlaw rebel vision, is essential to any effort to
create a context for transformation (4).
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Tami Spry is an assistant professor in the Department of Speech Communication at St.
Cloud State U. in St. Cloud, MN.