Monday, December 29, 2014

Can We Talk About This?


Denial is an interesting thing. Have you ever noticed how denial will not only continue in the face of overwhelming evidence, but the more evidence that comes to light, the more adamant and louder the denial becomes? It's desperation, obviously. Especially when it comes to society-wide issues. More evidence against you means that more people might come to believe what you don't want them to believe. And some people will go to great lengths to keep the denial going, even to the point of attempting to silence the voices that are pushing the evidence. Through threats, violence, and murder.

I know this is the reality of it, but it still shocks me over and over how anybody can still deny rape culture. Rape culture is the normalization of rape. Trivializing it. You think rape culture doesn't exist? Then please explain to me why every single time my boyfriend starts watching a new show, there's rape in it? Or attempted rape, at the very least. I swear to god, any show that's at all trying to seem "edgy" has a mandatory sexual assault quota for like every episode.

This scares the shit out of me, and it should scare the shit out of you, too. First off, I don't know how survivors even watch TV anymore. But beyond that, what is this doing to people who are not survivors? Feminists are making progress in combating rape culture, bringing attention to it, getting college campuses to accept new rules for dealing with rapists. But at the same time, is media getting worse? How many times do young men have to see implied, attempted, or actual rape scenes on TV before it becomes No Big Deal? Before it becomes standard?


Rape culture denialists might say that rape is depicted as bad in media. That's not what I'm seeing. I see rape used as shock value at best, but more often to titillate. New Netflix original series Marco Polo. A woman's brother tells his soldiers that they can go ahead and gang rape her. When they tell her this, she gets naked, then kills them all. Yes, it's good that they're all dead. But why did she have to get naked? Do I even have to ask? The mixing of violence and sexual images is deeply disturbing, and it only happens when women are involved. A man would never strip before killing a bunch of dudes, and I guarantee that would be just as much of a surprise and "distraction" to his enemies.

Do something for me. Put on a fight scene from something between a man and a woman and just listen to it. Don't watch, just listen. Then listen to a sex scene. Notice the similarities in the noises the woman makes? Isn't that a little fucked up?

And do we ever see the real consequences after a woman is raped? Do we get to witness her PTSD? How any little thing can bring her back to that moment? How she's denied support? How the world fails her? No. I see a woman fight a man, lose, and then he rips her athletic pants off. The scene cuts away, and I don't think I'll ever even see the woman again.

It is not acceptable to use rape as a way to promote "realism" or to show how terrible the bad guys are. You don't risk normalizing and trivializing something so terrible just for fucking ratings. First of all, your Marco Polo show is not realistic in the least anyway. Second, you can be so much more creative in letting everyone know how awful a human being is. But no, it's rape. It's always rape. Rape scenes are becoming the new sex scenes, I swear to god.

And it scares the shit out of me. Because you do get desensitized to violence, and it's no different with sexual violence. But this is worse, because this is violence that is almost exclusively (at least in media) targeting a specific portion of the population - the one that is already oppressed and already suffers sexual assault at a greater rate. Women are used so much by men. We're used to sell your products, we're used to motivate your fictional heroes, and now we're used to show how fucking edgy your HBO program is. It's a form of dehumanization. Women are dehumanized in these rape scenes. Rape scenes meant to titillate and get attention. Sexual violence sexualized. Honestly, I don't have a single doubt that many men are aroused by these rape scenes, and that's exactly why the creators of these shows use them so much.

Let's be honest with ourselves. Sex sells, right? And when rape is so sexy, why not use that to sell?

And people ask me why I'm so angry. My question is, why are you so desperate to deny reality? Because denial would be the only thing that could keep anyone from being angry about this.

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