Laura E. Tanner’s article, for The Oxford Companion to Women’s Writing in the United States on Rape, says:
The project of tracing the thematic appearance of rape in American women’s writing is complicated by cultural constraints that have discouraged women from articulating the threat of sexual violence, and by representational limitations that make it difficult to capture the experience of rape in words. The rapes that do appear in early American women’s writing are seldom named as such.
Exactly. People don’t recognize non-explicit rape scenes within literature, earlier or now, because they are partially hidden. It’s like the man in the Santa suit. If you ask someone who he is, the person will say “Santa Claus.” It isn’t really Santa in the suit, but that’s who it looks like.
She does use one phrase which I dislike “most interesting representations of rape,” but if one looks at them in terms of analysis, I guess they could be interesting. I would, I think, prefer the term “most useful.”