This talk explores the ethical dimensions of a fraught and promising moment: the moment when a survivor of sexual assault discloses their experience to a trusted person, whom I am terming a confidant. I argue that this moment entails and produces multiple forms of vulnerability, and that the ways in which vulnerability is in play can remind us that vulnerability is not only the openness to harm or injury, but is a necessary condition of world-making and subject-making. The harmful or beneficial possibilities inherent in this moment of disclosure should therefore be understood not as different responses to vulnerability, but as different deployments of it. I address not only the risks that a survivor takes in disclosing to a confidant, but also the risks and possibilities that the moment holds for the confidant. Legal or institutional encroachments upon this moment of disclosure, such as those now common in universities and colleges in the US, undermine its potential for intersubjective meaning-making while simultaneously rendering survivors even more vulnerable to invasive bureaucratic procedures that rarely result in justice.
Prof. Dr. Ann Cahill, Philosophin ; Professorin am Department of Philosophy der Elon University, North Carolina