Philomela and her sisters : explorations of sexual violence in plays by British contemporary women dramatists
The theme of this thesis is women and violence explored in eleven plays by British contemporary women playwrights in the 1980s and 1990s. In order to explore these plays, I have made investigations into a basic knowledge of violence against women in the Introduction. Violence against women is also called sexual violence or gender-related violence. The knowledge I have gained includes how sexual violence is defined; why sexual violence occurs; what kinds of sexual violence there are; how people perceive sexual violence. My definition is that any act which limits the autonomy of women constitutes sexual violence. Based on a variety of definitions by feminist scholars, there are many forms of sexual violence in women's history around the world. As a result, I have found out the continuity, diversity, and universality of women's pain. The nature of sexual violence has been mistaken by many people from the perspective of prevailing myths about women's sexuality. Because of them, many women and female children become double victims. Having understood the true nature of sexual violence, I have selected eleven plays which explore women and violence: The Love of the Nightingale (1988) by Timberlake Wertenbaker; Crux (1991) by April de Angelis; The Taking of Liberty (1992) by Cheryl Robson; Augustine (Big Hysteria) (1991) by Anna Furse; The Gut Girls (1988) by Sarah Daniels; Ficky Stingers (1986) by Eve Lewis; Beside Herself (1990) by Sarah Daniels; Thatcher's Women (1987) by Kay Adshead; Money to Live (1984) by Jacqueline Rudet; Low Level Panic (1988) by Clare McIntyre; Masterpieces (1984) by Sarah Daniels. The thesis is divided into two parts depending on whether the plays are set in the past or present in order to identify the continuity of sexual violence. They depict the exercise of men's power through sexual violence. In the plays women experience violence committed by men and then they are silenced. However, the women demonstrate their fighting spirit and regain their voice or find ways to express themselves. Women's hope for change is expressed through theatre.