Rape Culture #8: Rape Culture and Television

By January 21, 2019Uncategorized


Part eight in a series by Joy Pedrow Skarka 

In addition to the list from the previous series, other television shows and movies about or evidencing rape culture have debuted: 

  • The Handmaid’s Tale, a television series based on the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood, takes place in a totalitarian society. The women are treated as property of the state and ruled by a fundamentalist regime. The society is faced with a low birth rate, and so the women are forced to become sex slaves. 
  • Westworld, a television series, takes place in a futuristic amusement park for rich vacationers. Visitors are encouraged to live out their desires without any consequences, including raping and beating the women. The women are not real people, but rather robots built to gratify the desires of everyone who visits the theme park.
  • EastEnders, a British soap opera, aired an episode that tackled sexual consent and rape culture. The episode’s goal was to educate and start a conversation with the viewers. The episode included key characters debating rape and consent in the local pub. Kush Kazemi said, “If you are going to get that drunk, sometimes there are consequences you have to take.” Ruby Allen said, “It’s not on me to stop them. It’s on them not to do it in the first place.”
  • Game of Thrones, a television drama series based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling book series, is a medieval fantasy. The series plays a deadly game for control of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and a seat atop the Iron Throne. The series includes countless rape scenes, which were actually not written in the original stories. The writer, however, provides this justification for the use of rape scenes: “Rape and sexual violence have been a part of every war ever fought, from the ancient Sumerians to our present day. To omit them from a narrative centered on war and power would have been fundamentally false and dishonest, and would have undermined one of the themes of the books: that the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves. We are the monsters.”
  • 13 Reasons Why, a controversial series on Netflix that discusses thirteen reasons why a girl chose to commit suicide, discusses and shows scenes of rape. Hannah, the girl who later committed suicide, was violently raped in season one. The season finale of season two includes a rare scene of a man sexually assaulting another man.
  • We cannot fail to mention Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie and book series. The series is advertised as a must-see erotic love affair, but it is really about sexual abuse and violence against women. The series takes the point of view that sexual violence is normal, acceptable, and enjoyable.

For examples of rape culture in movies, see Abduction as Romance.

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