Blowhard, Esq. writes:
A small but terrifying study conducted on college-age males earlier this year found that around one in three men said they would be willing to rape a woman if there were no consequences—but only if you didn’t call it “rape.” For these men, the resistance or disinterest of women was viewed as insincere or inconsequential, and the use of force or coercion was seen as either acceptable, or a nebulous “gray” area—but not “rape rape.” That’s why definitions of rape and consent are so crucially important: They literally encourage people to commit acts of rape by redefining them into social acceptability. Simply put, any form of media that reinforces any of these ideas actively enables sexual assault.
The impulse to sexualize women is so knee-jerk and compulsive that sexiness becomes functionally mandatory, which sets the stage for maximum creepiness any time those characters suffer, and particularly when they suffer sexual violence.
As Rachel Edidin wrote in her critique of sexualized rape scenes, “Women are exaggeratedly—and always—sexy. They’re sexy on the phone. Sexy on the job. Sexy fighting. Sexy tortured. Sexy dead. Sexy raped.”
If you’re a woman in media, you’re basically the sexy Halloween costume of human beings in a world where Halloween never ends. Again, I cannot believe I have to say this, but if a movie or TV show can’t visualize a woman in non-sexual terms even for the brief duration of a rape scene, it has no business depicting rape scenes.
One of the reasons that creators of media like to include rape in their work is specifically because it elicits strong feelings, even when divorced from all context and consequences. Think of it as a recipe for cheap drama: Take a story, add one rape, stir vigorously, and presto—instant emotional reaction! This is both incredibly lazy and incredibly callous, but it works, so people keep doing it. Rape has been so overused and misused in popular media that adding yet another manipulative sexual assault to the world just to heighten the stakes of a story or have a Very Special Episode is not just one of the most offensive things a writer can do, it is also one of the most boring.
From Wikipedia’s entry on Fredric Wertham:
Fredric Wertham (March 20, 1895 – November 18, 1981) was a German-born American psychiatrist and crusading author who protested the purportedly harmful effects of violent imagery in mass media and comic books on the development of children. His best-known book was Seduction of the Innocent (1954), which suggested that comic books were dangerous to children. Wertham’s criticisms of comic books helped spark a U.S. Congressional inquiry into the comic book industry and the creation of the Comics Code. He called television “a school for violence“, and said “If I should meet an unruly youngster in a dark alley, I prefer it to be one who has not seen Bonnie and Clyde.”
From Wikipedia’s entry on Seduction of the Innocent:
Seduction of the Innocent is a book by German-American psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, published in 1954, that warned thatcomic books were a negative form of popular literature and a serious cause of juvenile delinquency. The book was taken seriously at the time, and was a minor bestseller that created alarm in parents and galvanized them to campaign for censorship. At the same time, a U.S. Congressional inquiry was launched into the comic book industry. Subsequent to the publication of Seduction of the Innocent, the Comics Code Authority was voluntarily established by publishers to self-censor their titles.
I love the incredulity of the clause “The book was taken seriously at the time…” Imagine that someone would take such arguments earnestly! We know better now!
- Bill James reminds us that “the influence of the media” is a bullshit dump.
- I am patiently waiting for feminists and SJWs like Ms. Hudson to apologize to the cultural conservatives like Bill Bennett, Tipper Gore, and others who crusaded against violent video games and rap lyrics in the 80s and 90s.
- Wikipedia on other moral panics.