Sexual Violence in Media

There’s been a lot of chatter recently about the portrayal of sexual violence in media, particularly with Game of Thrones’ graphic scenes, and with the important but purely implicit sexual violence in Mad Max: Fury Road. Rape gets used for shock value, or to make something more "edgy", as well as a motivator or background story angst for female characters, but that can be incredibly cheap storytelling at times, not to mention harmful. It would be interesting to see a comparison of implicit versus explicit sexual violence, its uses in various media, and where it’s useful versus where it’s just gratuitous.

  • Good point. It also seems like it can be superadded to an existing work. If we take Game of Thrones for example, there is no denying that Martin uses sex quite often as part of his text but when it gets adapted to the screen it seems like the sex becomes more graphic and can be added where there was none before. I think this is a timely topic and one that can be taken in a lot of directions – DClarke 7 years ago
  • In the case of "useful" explicit rape, the first scene that comes to mind is the rape scene in Straw Dogs (1971). It's an incredibly complicated moment--so much so that when a director wanted to remake the movie, one of his primary objectives was to flatten the rape scene to a single, formulaic note because the ambiguity of the first was, for him, beyond comprehension, and he just wanted audiences to see a woman suffer (ugh). The original is *not* a failing, though; the whole movie is intentionally wrought in difficult ambiguities, and the rape scene is no different. Simply put, a woman who returns to her hometown with her mild-mannered husband knows exactly how dangerous her ex is, but toys with him until he forces himself upon her; at first she is deeply upset by his violence, but mid-coitus the ex lovers have a very weird, difficult moment of reunion, just before the ex's coworker introduces himself with a gun and demands his turn. It's a painful scene to watch, with so many different emotions playing out over our victim's face, and it's made worse by the fact that the raped woman refuses to tell her husband what's happened after. Nonetheless, there is a *wealth* of discourse that emerges from Peckinpah's approach, which does NOT treat the act in an alluring light. On a different note, Almodovar has a rape in Kika that... actually manages to be comedy, because it makes such a striking mockery of the rapist, a porn star who seems to have a compulsion to copulate not unlike a dog rutting against a human leg. At first the rape scene is wrenching, but as it keeps going on to absurd lengths (because the rapist cannot seem to finish), the raped protagonist reclaims a measure of agency in a most surprising--and again, comedic--way. Good luck with this article! – MLClark 7 years ago
  • With Game of Thrones the most recent rape scene, being that of Sansa's, was not actually very graphic. The camera panned over to Theon and our reaction of the rape was moulded by Theon's reaction. I think there is a lot of confusion in this area that needs to be discussed. I see a lot of arguments that rape shouldn't be shown because it's a disgusting, violent horrible act, which it is, but that's also the right reaction to have; of we had a reaction totally opposite to that, that's when we need to look at sexual violence in media. south Park has, on several occasions, stated that it's only ok to have a discourse for everything or nothing at all (and with regards to South Park that would be it's ok to make fun of/to satirise anything). – Jamie 7 years ago
  • 100% behind this proposal. I think it needs to be done for the sake of victims of sexual assault, many of whom feel alienated by the sensationalistic attitudes towards sex in mainstream cinema. – Luke Stephenson 7 years ago

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