WHO’S LAUGHING NOW? SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE JOKE ABOUT RAPE
thesisposted on 23.05.2021, 16:09 by Anna Lise Frey
Survivors of sexual violence in Canada face a culture that is largely hostile to their voices and experiences. Despite this, some survivors turn to the public sphere to work through their trauma. This thesis presents interview data from seven survivors who have performed stand-up comedy about their own experiences with sexual violence. It weaves together critical and clinical trauma theories, feminist work on sexual violence, and communications theories about humour and joking to offer new insights into how cultural responses to sexual trauma can work to challenge dominant attitudes about rape. This thesis ultimately argues that the cognitive, linguistic, and affective strategies that joking encourages can guide survivors towards reconceptualising the traumatic events they’ve experienced and facilitate the integration of those traumas into their lives. By focusing on a novel aspect of survivors’ affective expressions – their fun – this analysis works to make better sense of peoples’ complex responses to trauma.