“To Ransom a Man’s Soul”: Male Rape and Gender Identity in Outlander and “The Suffering Man” of Lamentations 3
In this chapter, Emma Nagouse reads Lamentations 3 (the “Man of Sorrows” poem) alongside the Outlander novel series and its television adaptation. Within this series, one of the main characters, Scottish soldier Jamie Fraser, is brutally raped and tortured by an enemy officer. Nagouse uses these fictional events as a lens through which to read and interpret the trauma and violence evoked by the Man in Lamentations 3, arguing that his words of suffering may be understood as the testimony of a male rape survivor. By exploring the impact of rape on Jamie’s emotional, physical, and sexual wellbeing, Nagouse considers the trauma of male sexual assault, including the rape myths that sustain the silence surrounding this crime. Focusing on issues of intimacy, re-traumatization, victim blame, and cultural constructions of masculinity, she connects Jamie’s experiences of violence to those expressed by the lamenting Man, drawing on the texts’ shared themes, language, and imagery. She thus reminds us of the need to critique and challenge rape culture discourses in both contemporary and ancient contexts, and to break the silence that shrouds male rape in contemporary culture and biblical scholarship. Given that this sacred text is read and interpreted within societies where sexual violence is so often trivialized or ignored, a failure to consider that the Man may, like Jamie, be a victim of sexual violence is simply to be complicit in this silence.
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