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Simon Feldman

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The Existentialist philosophers, Simone De Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, argue that the human condition is existentially free, and following this phenomenology, the individual has a responsibility to act on her freedom and hold herself accountable for the choices that she makes. This is a view that human beings are constituted by their subjectivity: the unique combination of their situation and their choices within their situation. I argue that the existential imperative (that individuals have a responsibility to act on their freedom and hold themselves accountable) contributes to a cultural master narrative - a term used by philosopher Hilde Lindermann Nelson that is often oppressively imposed upon sexual assault survivors. I further argue that the survivor’s construction of counterstory, or personal narrative, allows the survivor to meet the existential imperative in a non-oppressive way, in addition to challenge cultural master narratives. The production of counterstories, when presented to a larger audience, has the potential to alter master narratives so they are more inclusive and diverse.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.