The Surrealism of Men’s Rights Discourses on Sexual Assault Allegations: A Feminist Reading of Kafka’s The Trial

  • Meg Danielle Lonergan Carleton University
Keywords: feminism, interdisciplinary law, Kafka, literature, sexual assault

Abstract

Being a feminist in the contemporary Canadian context, post-Ghomeshi, can lead to existential crises. In this paper I investigate this relationship of feminist activism and reality, men’s rights activism (MRA) and surrealism, and the Absurd via the work of surrealist novelist Franz Kafka. While Kafka’s The Trial is popularly understood as an allegory for the alienation and pains of bureaucracy and modernity, I posit a new interpretation of the story as a men’s rights perspective of sexual assault allegations. I use Shoshana Felman’s theory of integrated literary and legal visions to read Kafka’s The Trial against men’s rights discourses regarding sexual assault allegations. I find this theory of evidence and repetitions across the disciplines of art (Kafka) and law (the Ghomeshi trial) useful as analytical sites for critically engaging with men’s rights discourses about sexual assault allegations. I demonstrate how The Trial can be interpreted as a representation of the phenomenon of sexual assault allegations according to men’s rights discourses, and demonstrate how these discourses are just as surreal as Kafka’s story. Through the Ghomeshi verdict I will demonstrate how these surrealist fantasies impact real-world sexual assault accusations, trials, and court decisions.

 

Résumé

Être féministe dans le contexte canadien contemporain, après l’affaire Ghomeshi, peut entraîner des crises existentielles. Dans cet article, j’étudie la relation entre l’activisme féministe et la réalité, l’activisme en faveur des droits masculins et le surréalisme, et l’absurde par le biais de l’œuvre du romancier surréaliste Franz Kafka. Bien que Le Procès de Kafka soit généralement interprété comme une allégorie de l’aliénation et des tourments de la bureaucratie et de la modernité, j’avance une nouvelle interprétation de ce récit comme étant une perspective axée sur les droits masculins concernant les allégations d’agression sexuelle. Je m’appuie sur la théorie des visions littéraires et juridiques intégrées de Shoshana Felman pour lire Le Procès de Kafka sous l’angle des discours sur les droits masculins à propos des allégations d’agression sexuelle. Je trouve cette théorie des preuves et des répétitions dans les disciplines de l’art (Kafka) et du droit (le procès Ghomeshi) utile comme base d’analyse pour engager un débat critique avec les discours sur les= droits masculins à propos des allégations d’agression sexuelle. Je montre comment Le Procès peut être interprété comme une représentation du phénomène des allégations d’agression sexuelle selon les discours sur les droits masculins, et je montre que ces discours sont tout aussi surréalistes que l’histoire de Kafka. À partir du verdict de Ghomeshi, je démontre l’impact que ces fantasmes surréalistes ont, dans la vie réelle, sur les accusations, les procès et les décisions judiciaires en matière d’agression sexuelle.

Author Biography

Meg Danielle Lonergan, Carleton University
Ph.D. Candidate Law and Legal Studies

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Published
2018-08-03
Section
39.1 Research