Smack My Bitch Up?

Following on from my post last month, Body Talk, about theatre and women’s rights movements two articles produced in the British press in the last couple of weeks strike a particular chord. Following the performance of a piece called Nirbhaya at the Edinburgh Festival, a work that focused on gang rape and sexual violence against women by men, what is best described as a spat has broken out about the portrayal of rape on stage.

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Nirbhaya was inspired by the horrific multiple rape on a bus and subsequent death of an Indian student, Jyoti Singh Pandey, in Delhi in December 2012, which hit the headlines and provoked shocked reactions around the world.

In her Guardian Blog, Lyn Gardner argued that

with rape centre-stage, theatregoers can no longer turn a blind eye…….violence in theatre makes us contemplate something we may prefer to ignore.

This was in response to an article by Tiffany Jenkins in The Independent which argued that sexual violence onstage (and screen)

demeans both sexes and ignores healthy relationships.

Fascinating, just fascinating and at best, very spurious on the part of Jenkins. Have a read. I would argue that the theatre is exactly the place where human rights issues such as this should be explored. If you are in any doubt, take a look at two reviews here and here.

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