To me, “Black Box” is not a story about strong women. It is not about gender roles, or sexism. Indeed, it has nothing to do with feminism whatsoever. “Black Box” is about sexual trauma, and the many ways in which it destroys lives.
In the saltwater, our main character is cleansed, but she still doesn’t feel at home in her body. Her body is not hers; it is property of the government, and it exists to fulfill their mission. She floats above herself, conceptualizes herself as a series of tools used to complete a goal.
This dissociation is common among victims of abuse, especially sexual abuse. It’s a coping method. She feels as though she is separate from her body, as though her body is not her own, separating herself from the physical form touched and changed by people in power.
This story is told in sections, presented in black boxes. It separates you from the action, like she is separated from herself. The language itself is very matter-of-fact; it’s emotional without actually expressing much emotion.
And maybe all of this is just my point of view because I know what it’s like to feel like your body is separate from yourself. I know what it’s like to feel as though you are merely piloting your body like a great machine.
What do you think? What is “Black Box” really about?