This is “corrective rape.” These are its rules.

Earlier this week, the newspapers reported the discovery of another dead and mutilated lesbian body. Yet another poor, Black, landless, queer body with a vagina has been killed and the story, we’re told, is because she was gay.

As the routine letters of condemnation from State, public and political officials came in their multitudes, and the routine commitments to protect queer bodies were renewed, I found myself caught in a routine depression over the failure to acknowledge and address the structural conditions which make poor, Black, queer bodies with vaginas so routinely available to violence.

Caught in such a depressive state, some years ago I wrote a discussion paper to begin interrogating the notion of “corrective rape.” And in my interrogation, the paper quickly became a disruption of the notion and the discourse attached to it. I argue that both the term and the lens through which it is constructed and understood both obscure and participate in the confluence of structural systems of power which make particular kinds of bodies available to this and other forms of violence over others, as well as fixes particular kinds of bodies as the obvious perpetrators over others.

This week, again, I found myself caught in this depressive state. Another dead and mutilated body of yet another poor, Black, landless, queer body with a vagina had been found, and we quickly fell into our routine again.

It happens often. It happens every day. It happens rarely, if at all, to some bodies. It happens repeatedly to others. Under very particular circumstances, we will all know about these incidents in absolute and graphic detail. In most, we will not know that it happened at all.

This is “corrective rape.” These are its rules.

Where we do, we will ask why. We will be told that it is because she was drunk, that she was out at night, that she presented herself in a place known to be unsafe. We will be told that they wanted to correct her sexuality. We will give it a sexy name like “corrective rape.” This is how it happens. This is where it happens. This is who does it. This is who it is done to.

This is “corrective rape.” These are its rules.

We will know that the targets are Black township lesbians. This will mean the perpetrators are Black township men. We will identify “hotspots.” We will visit them. We will take our cameras and our writing pads to look at the perpetrators and write about the victims. In graphic detail, we will look at the victims and write about the perpetrators.

This is “corrective rape.” These are its rules.

We will go to the police. We will march on the council. We will wear a different coloured t-shirt. A colour for each body. a colour for each martyr. We will lobby lawmakers. We will create special task-teams. We will tell them it is these rapes that matter. We will tell that it t is these murders that require special laws. We will remind them that these are not normal rapes. That they are more brutal. That they are more traumatic.

This is “corrective rape.” These are its rules.

We are targets because we are gay, not because we are womyn. We are targets because we are gay, not because we are Black. We are targets because we are gay, not because we are landless. We are targets because we are gay, not because we live in ghettoes. We are targets because we are gay. We are targets because we are gay!

This is “corrective rape.” These are its rules.

 

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