Added: March 4, 2017 – Last updated: March 4, 2017


Author: Zoë Brigley Thompson

Title: Happiness (or not) after rape

Subtitle: Hysterics and harpies in the media versus killjoys in black women’s fiction

Journal: Journal of Gender Studies

Volume: 26

Issue: 1

Year: 2017 (Received: February 19, 2016, Accepted: August 9, 2016, Published online: September 12, 2016)

Pages: 66-77

ISSN: 0958-9236 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1465-3869 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | American History: Haitian History, U.S. History | Representations: Literary Texts / Edwidge Danticat, Alice Walker


Link: Taylor & Francis Online (Restricted Access)


Author: Zoë Brigley Thompson, Department of English, Ohio State UniversityAuthor's Personal Website,

Abstract: »This paper argues that Sara Ahmed’s theorizing of the feminist killjoy is very relevant to the treatment of the rape victim in public discourse. The analysis draws on Ahmed’s categorization of different kinds of killjoys to consider how, in media representations, rape victims are confronted with particularly reductive and simplistic happiness scripts. These scripts present victims as being unreliable, because they are seen as irrevocably harmed, or they supposedly cause their own unhappiness with their refusal to move on from the pain of their experiences. Having established the ambivalences of the media framing of rape survivors, fictional representations reveal the true complexities of happiness for rape survivors in the discussion of two novels: The Color Purple by Alice Walker (born 1944) and Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat (born 1969). Walker and Danticat emphasize that heteronormative scripts of happiness are inadequate in such cases, and that survivors must be allowed the right to be unhappy in a quest for justice. Ultimately, a more complex understanding of happiness admits that while the process of healing is not necessarily simple or swift for victims, there are possibilities for joy beyond normative understandings of what contentment might mean.« (Source: Journal of Gender Studies)

Wikipedia: History of the Americas: History of Haiti, History of the United States | Literature: American literature | 20th-century American writers: Edwidge Danticat / Breath, Eyes, Memory; Alice Walker / The Color Purple