Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Rape in chick shows VS guy shows.

I am disgusted and disturbed by the difference in the way rape is portrayed in female-specific shows, and male-specific shows. By 'female and male specific', I just mean that the shows' target audiences are female or male.

Now, let's look at rape in guy-films.

Sleepers; A bunch of boys are systematically raped by prison guards while they're in juvenile detention. They grow up, and coincidentally find their rapist. What do they do? The first one they see, gets shot multiple times in the groin and dies. As for the others, the boys (men, now) execute a brilliant plan to have them all thrown in jail for their crimes.

Pulp Fiction; One of the protagonists is raped by a band of thugs. He is rescued by his fellow, who kills most of the rapists. One is left, and the rescuer leaves the protagonist with a gun trained on the rapist... and it is indicated, in no uncertain terms, that the rapist is about to be tortured for his crimes.

Seems fair, right? Seems perfectly satisfactory.

Onto chick shows;

Desperate Housewives; Gabby's step father used to rape her when she was little. When she is an adult, he reappears in her life. Somehow, she ends up in the woods with him, holding a gun to his head. Does she shoot him? Even in the kneecap? No. Does she whimper ineffectually and run away? Yes.

Later, Carlos kills him. Carlos.

Private Practice; Charlotte is raped brutally. The rapist is, coincidentally, taken into custody in relation to some other crime. Somehow, people put two and two together, and Charlotte is asked to go and identify him in the lineup. Now, Charlotte is ordinarily portrayed as the tough-as-nails, hardline bitch of the practice.

Does she see him? Yes. Does she recognise him as the rapist? Yes. Does she identify him to the police as the rapist? .... No. Apparently she is too 'traumatised'. Too traumatised to identify her rapist and see him brought to justice, too traumatised to get him put behind bars so that he doesn't go on to rape other women. Nope, just too traumatised for all that.

Later, the rapist's girlfriend is the one who turns him in. He is in the hospital (for some reason), and Charlotte goes and visits him... to beat him to death? No. To... at least break his face? No.

What does she do?
"I forgive you".

Sons of Anarchy; The wife of the head biker is gang raped brutally. Later, she goes after one of the rapists with a gun. She is about to shoot him when she hears him on the phone to his son. The fact that he has a son, apparently stays her hand.

What is this?

In a world in which women are routinely, ROUTINELY, raped and brutalised, these shows encourage women to 'forgive' and NOT exact revenge? They attempt to humanise these rapists, these animals, by pointing out that they have families? Like that is somehow enough reason for them to go unharmed?

Whereas, by contrast, rape in guy-centric films is seen to be so grotesque that it warrants torture?

By all means, it DOES warrant torture, the guy-films have it spot on.

What the hell is this double standard? What are the writers of Desperate Housewives, Private Practice, and Sons of Anarchy thinking? In WHAT way is that a helpful, just, or desirable version of reality to present to the public?


  1. This is kinda interesting. What do you think about in Season 3 of The Sopranos, when Dr Melfi is raped?

    The Sopranos probably falls somewhere between the chick/guy show dichotomy - but she refuses to tell Tony for about exactly BECAUSE she knows what kind of justice that kind of man will seek. I guess it's portrayed as a calculated moral choice.

  2. I haven't watched the Sopranos, but I can just imagine. "Moral choice", my ass (not directed at you, lovely). I would love to know in what way these writers think letting a rapist get off scot free is 'moral'. I would also love to know why male-rape warrants death by bullet-to-groin and torture, but female-rape warrants some warped 'morality'.

  3. I agree that I was disappointed that Charlotte acted so out of character in dealing with her rape. (That is the only show of the one's you have mentioned that I have seen and can not speak to the others.)

    I think they are playing to how they think men and women *do* act in these situations more than they are trying to say how they *should* act. In our culture we expect forgiveness, mercy and such to be more feminine traits and revenge and justice and such to be more male traits.

    TV and movies play to all kinds of cliches though. The black guy is the criminal, the old white guy is rich, the maid is always latino, the woman takes revenge on a cheating husband, the guy gets the girl in the end, and so on and so forth. Yes, it should change, but it shouldn't be surprising that it doesn't.

  4. It's worrying that women in TV shows can't forgive each other for not looking thin enough at their wedding, but can forgive men who rape them.

    We're told to be forgiving, yet begrudging.

    It's too much to fully go into without blowing a fuse.

    I enjoyed your post a lot, by the way.

  5. Chia; I'm sorry, but I *am* surprised, that with something like rape, these people pretend to know how rape victims react. No girl I know that has ever been raped or assaulted just forgives the criminal and moves on. That is not an accurate portrayal of reality, it SHOULD not be seen as what reality is, and we are all fully aware that media creates cliches just as often as it plays on them. Writers are aware of this. This is disgusting behaviour from them.

    Ginger; Thankyou, I'm in danger of blowing a fuse myself.

  6. Never really thought of this contrast but it has always rightly pissed me off when these TV/movie rapists don't get what's coming to them - ideally by those whom they so brutalized.

    I really think it has to do with some stone-age perception of women being fair and compassionate souls while the savage man solves his problems with blood and bone. Whatever.

  7. Got a point there.

    However, the rape/revenge theme has been popping up in mostly guy oriented movies since the 70s. Those movies seem to follow a similar pattern: girl is raped, girl recovers, girl tracks down rapists and brutally murders them. Imdb even has a list.

    It seems the rape forgiveness series you mentioned are all recent and American. Is there some underlying christian theme there?

  8. Diego; RIGHT? Assholes. "Fair", pfft. What the fuck is fair, I ask you, about rapists NOT being tortured and murdered?

    Caveman; I've watched one guy-centric movie with a female-rape/revenge theme (as opposed to simply female rape.. which is present in a disgustingly large number of movies, with no discernible 'revenge' aspect), Gutter Balls, but in that too, it is her father who takes revenge.

    I would love to see a guy-centric movie that deals with the rape/revenge motif satisfactorily. Recommendations?

  9. Hey infidel,

    I'm not familiar with the genre, but imdb offers a lot of suggestions and if you mean brutal violence as a satisfactory resolution, then there are quite a few movies that seem to be living up to that.

    Irreverible is one of the few movies that left me shell shocked for a while, don't watch that alone.

    I did like a movie not in that list: the woman http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1714208/
    It is as much about how power corrupts everyone as a rape/revenge movie. Reminded me of the Stanford prison experiment.


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