Meredith Stricker

"The Theater of Conclusion and Findings": a performance

In the Theater of Conclusion and Findings, the Panel will read their findings while "gyrating" and "moaning" (their words) in order to demonstrate objectivity.1

The Panel will speak while neither moving nor gyrating. Their legs will remain "clamped shut". In this Theater, a woman such as C is either gyrating or her legs are clamped shut. Those are the positions the Panel finds of interest.

As a further measure of objectivity or objectification, the Panel will avoid any mention of R's being so drunk he couldn't drive a car the night of the rape. The panel will not question the consistency of R's memory or his behavior when drunk since being drunk is not mentioned in the Theater.

The Panel will instead find R to be "more credible" than C because of what is not mentioned. The stability of "his version" is the narrative of the Findings and the reason given for finding in his favor. As an experiment, the Panel will consume excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages and compare the stability of their versions.

The version of C is found to be less stable because of the complexity of her version which is not included in the Findings except by absence. Details of her version will not be mentioned except by way of dismissal. 2

For instance, the Panel finds C to not have been "sincerely afraid" or insufficiently afraid in a sincere manner. The difference between "sincere" and "insincere" fear is not defined.

Emotion is considered unstable, however not enough emotion may also be seen as insincere.

In the Theater R stands naked and throws keys across the apartment. His version did not change. In the Findings the only person the Panel ascribes "erratic and violent" behavior to is C.
She slaps R and her narrative is not stable.

The Panel will find "the entirety" "of the sexual activity" "normal" b/c these partners had been "verbally clear" with each other in the past even though it is the night of December 17-18 that is being examined.

The Panel allows that "consent is not presumed for partners in a relationship" except in this case in which the Panel presumes consent. The Panel will continue to "moan" and "gyrate" while clamping their legs shut, while the audience interprets what they say as consensual. They must make the audience understand the difference between "moaning" and "groaning" so the audience can determine whether or not their pain is sincere.

Note: in this Theater, consensual means sensual when a woman does not clamp her legs shut.

Because C is considered to have been "verbally clear" in the past, she is not considered to be "verbally clear" when she testifies to the extent of her non-consent on the night of December 17-18.

Because C is found by the Panel to be "well-spoken and verbally skilled" she has forfeited the right to say no unless R or the Panel agree to her version. In fact, the Panel finds it is R's understanding that determines the degree of C's well-spoken-ness and verbal skill that night. The defects (drunken or not) of his understanding are not to be considered.

The Panel finds that C's "verbal expressions could be considered moaning by R". The Panel will demonstrate to the audience a range of moans which the audience will interpret as "verbal expressions" 3. Members of the Panel will have their tenure applications, their salaries and their university status adjusted according to the interpretation of their moans as "verbal expressions".

The audience notes, according to the Panel, C is "not obligated to say no" in order for the sexual activity to be considered non-consensual or "not normal" "in its entirety" but, in fact, sexual assault or rape. However, according to the Theater of Findings, C is obligated to say no in a way that is consistent with her being "verbally clear" in the past, even though she is not obligated to say no
or be verbally clear.

The Panel is not obligated to be verbally clear in its Findings.

If the Panel is neither "well''-spoken" nor "verbally skilled", they will have the right say no in a way that is not deemed articulate or sincere or verbal by the audience. However, if their language skills improve, the threshold for the articulateness of their non-consent will be raised.

According to the Findings, an articulate person must remain articulate whether being assaulted or while gyrating, whether moaning or afraid.

Final Findings and Conclusions

While presenting their Findings, The Panel will bring buckets of white latex paint to cover the testimonies. Certain words in the testimonies will remain readable and stand out in the expanses of whiteness.

The audience notes the Theater grows whiter and whiter with increased lighting that simultaneously creates obscuring shadows.

When the Panel's Findings are used as precedent, students subjected to rape culture or being insufficiently inarticulate in the past or gyrating too much or with legs clamped or unclamped
or bringing Complaints to the Theater of the Institution will be covered in white: white wedding, white snow, white lies, white-outs, white Christmas, white glare, white ghost –– washed and washed.

The audience notes the Panel's performance in service to the Institution of the Theater of Conclusions and Findings and their attempt to whiten any consideration of stain upon the Body of the Institution.

The Panel chants "the Body of the Institution is unstained". The hands of the Panel are covered in white paint which continues to spread, the stain of whiteness.

The audience is familiar with MacBeth and knows what happens to the cover-up of stains.
Film projections on a secondary screen show frantic efforts of trying to wash the stain from hands and garments, shows oil spills and the mouths of industry spokes-people.

The audience notes the whiteness and the exposed stain upon the Body of the Institution. The audience collectively changes the lighting. The audience removes layers of white paint and grows increasingly articulate.

The audience reads between the lines. The audience re-writes the lines. The audience listens. The audience speaks out in and between the lines. The lines are drawn and redrawn.
For the audience, the Findings and Conclusions are not final.

1 The audience notes that "gyrating" when applied to a woman is usually used in contexts such as pole-dancing –- not to someone who has reported being sexually assaulted. The audience suggests that in some versions of the performance, poles might be added as props for the Panel.

2 Nor will the irregularly large gaps in the taking of testimony by the Panel be recorded in their report

3 Even though a moan is by definition, non-verbal or linguistically amibiguous.


From materials provided by Catalina Ouyang for her project Conclusions and Findings.
Citations are from the Conclusions and Findings Section of a Panel of Washington University, St Louis