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Layton, L. (1998). Sexual Trauma/Queer Memory: A. Cvetkovich. GLQ. II, 1995. Pp. 351-377. Psychoanal Q., 67(2):344-345.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Sexual Trauma/Queer Memory: A. Cvetkovich. GLQ. II, 1995. Pp. 351-377

(1998). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67(2):344-345

Sexual Trauma/Queer Memory: A. Cvetkovich. GLQ. II, 1995. Pp. 351-377

Lynne Layton

Cvetkovich describes a women's festival in which survivors of sexual abuse were warned against a punk band's performance that included simulations of sexual aggression. She criticizes the fact that lesbian subcultures that focus on healing

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from abuse have constructed discourses that are mutually exclusive from those constructed by lesbian subcultures that encourage the exploration of sexuality (by which she often means sadomasochism). She argues that this results in “repeating anew the schism between pleasure and danger, and ignoring the fact that one of the most interesting things about sex is that it so often refuses that distinction.” Analyzing two lesbian incest texts, the author makes the case that sex practices and fantasies that resemble abuse scenarios are often ways of breaking silence, claiming agency, and healing. Silence has to do not only with shame about abuse but with shame about the victim's sexuality; the demand usually implicit in abuse literature that the victim be passive, innocent, and desexualized enforces the silence around sexuality. On attempting to explain lesbian culture's possible contribution to the understanding of trauma, the author provides several answers, including the following: lesbianism may be a welcome effect of sexual abuse in that a change of object choice is healing; there are a disproportionate number of lesbians in helping professions, and this presence has an important impact on how healing is practiced and theorized. Rather than worry about linking lesbianism explicitly with sexual abuse, the author argues that the link produces new ways of thinking about and healing trauma.

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Article Citation

Layton, L. (1998). Sexual Trauma/Queer Memory. Psychoanal. Q., 67(2):344-345

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