Sexual Assault and Consent

While reading Zulus, it is inevitable that one thinks about rape, or at least some sort of sexual assault. Consent is a crucial theme to Percival Everett’s novel. Whether it be chapter A or chapter Z, Alice Achitophel, the protagonist, recalls the first scene of Zulus in which she is raped by a stranger. This horrific incident is described in great depth through the author’s use of sensory elements like imagery. This is literary element is evident in chapter H. Everett states; “Her thoughts spilled with shards of her brain down her body and into her lungs and became sparkling cities, bubble-covered cities, fat with the hope of success and clear of the poison planet-air which she sucked in.” The majority of books in this course have referenced a lack of consent. Although this is the case, Zulus uses a plethora of detailed descriptions and repetition to further the reader’s understanding on a more personal level.

Alice Achitophel was a victim of rape. Unfortunately in this world, sexual assault is common. According to RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network),¬†1 out of every 6 American women have been victims of completed or attempted rape. I decided to do a little research of my own and asked several of my female friends if they have ever experienced any form of sexual assault. 5 out of the 10 females that I asked had experienced some sexual violation before the age of 18. I admit this wasn’t a proper survey, nor was it the most diverse, but despite them all having similar backgrounds, it is evident that sexual assault is fairly common, even pre-college. It is disturbing how many women have been victims of sexual assault.

Men and boys are also victims of sexual assault. In addition to asking a bunch of my female friends, I decided to ask some of my male friends if they had experienced any form of sexual violation at a point in their life. Although only one male friend admitted to being a victim, it is vital to be aware that this can occur to everyone, any gender, any race, and any age.

Alice Achitophel was raped by a stranger. In addition, she also was betrayed by those she trusted. After confiding and relying on Theodore Theodore and Lucinda Knotes, Alice is ultimately betrayed. Theodore and Lucinda may have not personally violated her, but they led her into danger after making her feel like she could always trust them. Sexual Assault is not always the doing of a stranger. In many cases, sexual violation can be performed by someone that the victim views as trustworthy. Percival Everett does a fantastic job portraying a lack of consent through the use of gruesome and cold imagery.

In spite of cases of sexual assault/rape declining by 63% since 1993, it is still a common and substantial problem. We must make an effort to continue spreading the word and taking this issue seriously. Sexual assault is an unacceptable and intolerable act.



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