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      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2012 edited
    Okay so this -

    ... made me think. Especially after reading the comments section, which is fairly strictly monitored.

    I am not comfortable with depictions of rape in popular media. (I doubt anyone is. Anyone who actually IS comfortable or indeed interested in such things, come and sit by me and my nice piece of piano wire.) But one must admit, to humanity's shame, that such a thing exists.

    My question (or starting point of a discussion) is where one draws the line.

    I like CROSSED - Ennis, Lapham, Spurrier. These are Zombie Tales with an extra urrgency. They won't just bite you on the arm and then you go bad. (And once you go bad, you never go back.) Never have I felt any titilation in any CROSSED comic, EVER. Take that to the bank. EVER. But I LIKE CROSSED. What does that say?

    DC Comics (my ancient foe) has made much use of the Rape Trope in recent years. Marvel, not AS much. (Although they ret-conned Marcus right the hell out of Captain (nee Ms.) Marvel.

    I remember Warren talking about LAW N ORDER:SVU and how that show cynically exploited the concept of sexual violence to an unconscionable degree.

    (There's an attempted rape in the first issue of AMETHYST, circa 1982, apparently. I actually bought that issue and haven't seen it in twenty years or more, due to my eclectic filing system.)

    MY QUESTION, TO YOU FINE PEOPLE - How do you feel about depictions of rape in the media?
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2012
    It's a tricky subject to handle. I'm fine with it in the media because, as you said, to humanity's shame it does exist, and we should pretend like it doesn't. I wouldn't say I'm comfortable with the portrayal of rape - it's not supposed to be - rather I'm okay with the use of it to make a point. Granted, the rape trope can get annoying because it is often a sign of people being lazy and falling back on the obvious trope that's available to them. If it is used, the person(s) using it should put some actual effort into it and attempt to handle it with...not sure what the proper word is. Not with grace, but they should handle it in a way that doesn't trivialize the significance of such an event. However, rape happens so often in real life that I don't think it should be this untouchable act, and I don't think that the use of it automatically makes it "just a trope." As long as it's handled with...respect, I suppose is the word, then I'm okay with it as a tool for the narrative. My most recent experience with rape in the media was in watching and reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. It can be argued that Larsson fell back on a trope with it (though he fell back on a lof of tropes in his attempt to show his disgust towards misogyny and how Lisbeth was a victim in all aspects of her life), but I think he and the movies handled the event well and showed that no, rape is not some trivial event and is a very, very serious crime. The use of rape for the story and the movies was supposed to make the viewer extremely uncomfortable, that was the point.

    And in case it matters to anyone - I say this from the perspective of a female who has never been forcibly raped but has had her arm twisted into doing things that made me feel gross after I did them, and didn't want to do to begin with (which I've heard some people argue was rape even though there was no intercourse and was not physically forced). So I don't quite have the scar of a traumatizing event that others might have, which would lead them to not be able to consume media with rape portrayals because it might be a trigger. That said, any piece of media with rape should have a trigger warning for victims.
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2012
    I'm not seeing the "this" you're referring to at the beginning of this thread, Hex.

    That said, the fact that there is a "rape trope" is abhorrent.
    If it's really necessary in your darker sort of story, whatever. But jeez. Everyone needs to find more creative and interesting reasons for their lady characters to have issues. There's so many you could use.
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2012
    @fishelle - sorry, link fail. (STUPID FINGERS!)

    @ argos - these are my thoughts, more or less. It's lazy and offensive if it's done wrong and it's traumatic if it's done right. Somehow, I don't think it should be in a comic aimed at pre-teen girls (waytago, DC. THAT'll bring in more female readers. Sheesh.)

    There's a film by Gaspar Noe called IRREVERSIBLE that, while being quite a good film, is also quite unwatchable. While I admire the filmmaker and his work, I can't watch this movie. Ever. I've tried. And failed.

    I know several survivors of sexual violence and I've seen how difficult it can be for them to just "be normal". To have the worst experience of their lives thrown back in their faces as a cheap plot point is odious.

    Is this a case of male cluelessness? Male writers more often than not are the ones using this trope (and yes, the fact that there is a "rape trope" is abhorrent) but sexual violence happens to everyone, too. (Anything set in a prison is going to have lots of it. I've actually read that "fear of prison rape" is more profound than "fear of prison violence" for most inmates coming into the correctional system.)

    James Bond and Batman are two male characters that I could concievably imagine have had experiences with sexual violence. (They're always getting captured sneaking through the bad guy's hideout. Of course, you'd have to be pretty tough to rape Batman or James Bond but given thier histories and their opponents, it's not out of the question.) When I said this to a writer friend of mine (a big fan of both of these characters), he freaked out and called me some interesting names. He acted as though they were sullied somehow, ruined. In a round-about way, that's why I started this thread.

    IS THERE a way to correctly portray sexual violence?
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2012
    Firstly, I want to apologise to anyone if I come across as insensitive. I don't mean or want to.

    There is a male-on-male sibling rape scene in the movie 'Snowtown' that I *think* I'm grateful for. It portrayed sexual violence in a way I just didn't consider.
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2012
    @ stoto - trolls are largely unknown in Whitechapel. (This is a fraught discussion. But one that deserves to exist, I think.)

    Have not seen 'Snowtown'. Recently re-watched "Mysterious Skin" which features a hideous male rape scene.

    As an aside ... there are currently several sex-predators lurking in my city, in the very neighborhood in which I used to live and at the university I attended. This is another reason this has come to the top of my mind. I have female friends (and male ones, too) who may be at risk, simply because they dare to walk home alone. This disgusts me deeply. (In addition, I'm not what one would call a strapping individual and could be easily overpowered by a determined assailant. He'd have to be pretty determined, as I fight definitely dirty, when forced to fight. But I live my life realizing that "it" could happen and almost has, in the past.)
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2012
    Rape is a more compelling issue to me in news or editorials. I care less about its use as a fictional plot-driver. In the specific instance you linked, though, I'm super unimpressed that the writer's first complaint is that rape in comics is just a Watchmen ripoff. I mean, really? It's a cliche!? A trick, a thirteen-year-old's idea of 'mature'? This guy's a total dick.
    If there's some specific way in which these rape scenes are somehow demeaning or reductive (like, say, showing the victimized character as being perfectly okay with it all afterwards simply because a superhero showed up) then I'd be pissed. But treating rape as a crime as awful and ubiquitous as murder is PERFECTLY FAIR. Because it IS as awful and as ubiquitous. And choosing to pretend it doesn't exist just because it might trigger some former victims is just fucking STUPID. That's not how we effect change, and that's not how we start dialogue.
    I want it to be used. But I want a base effort to be put toward using it intelligently (like I want everything I read to be intelligent, so maybe that's redundant). And, hell, if that's as little as printing the number of a helpline in the back, or a tiny PSA, whatever. But it's just an issue of good research, if it's going to be in a story. Talk to a rape survivor, get their story, have your character act REAL. (And for fuck's sake don't only portray victims as women who dress slutty and get drunk in public, 'cause that's also shitty research.)
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2012
    @hex I have a vague memory of watching Mysterious Skin. Also, Irreversible. Both invoked different and less powerful emotions than Snowtown. Perhaps there is not a single correct way to portray sexual violence because we have all feel differently.
    You said you think this discussion deserves to exist. By the same measure, I think portrayals of sexual violence deserve to exist in popular media. It brings it to our attention. I can, however, understand that some people might disagree.
    I just don't know what accounts for a) an exploitable trope that hurts people and b) a documentation of reality that should be acknowledged.
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2012
    Obviously I have a really tough time watching/reading rape accounts. I actually couldn't make it through the Swedish movie verson of Girl With a Dragon Tattoo.

    Allana pretty much hit the nail on the head here:

    But treating rape as a crime as awful and ubiquitous as murder is PERFECTLY FAIR. Because it IS as awful and as ubiquitous. And choosing to pretend it doesn't exist just because it might trigger some former victims is just fucking STUPID. That's not how we effect change, and that's not how we start dialogue.

    Most women also have to live with the very real possibility that they are, in their lifetime, going to be sexually assaulted or raped. It shouldn't be that way but it is, and not addressing it as a very real part of life is absurd. A woman is vastly more likely to be raped than she is to be murdered (by a pretty huge margin). And as a result, a person is probably going to know at least a handful of rape victims in his/her life. Talking about it within the scope of entertainment media seems, well, appropriate. But I think you all are right, it's HOW we talk about it that is really the driver of whether it's okay.
    • CommentAuthorbadbear
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2012
    Generally speaking... yeah I totally agree with you guys that it depends on execution. It often annoys me that if you have a strong female character in something, and the plot has her at a low point, she's vulnerable - she can't just get threatened with physical violence like a male character. She has to get threatened with rape too. I just feel like it's LAZY. Like that's all the writers can think of. She's a woman so she must be sexualised...

    To me it often comes off as either exploitative or emotionally unconvincing, I think it's rare to find an example of rape being depicted with any kind of feeling of truth to it.
  1.  (10841.11)
    One of the most effective portrayals, because it was brutal and unpleasant and challenging to watch was in This Is England '86. I always find newspaper reactions like this What did you expect? This needs to be tackled and talked about to remove the gloss about it and address the problems victims face coming forward.
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2012
    One thing I ALSO hate - "George Lucas raped by childhood" and comments such-like. I get it, nobody likes Jar Jar Binks and Han Shot First but DUDE. (Because it's ALWAYS dudes who write that.)

    The "funny" thing is, rape is now probably as rare as it has ever been. Entire continents have been based on systematic rape (Australia and North AND South America, I'm looking at you And that doesn't let Asia, Europe or Africa off the hook, neither.)"Fun" fact - the term "joker" (as in "Who's this joker?") is the product of a relationship between hoboes during the depression of the 1890s. (Very much akin to prison "relationships" between "man" and "punk".)

    (I've done a lot of research into this so I'm putting on my Professor Hat now. Feel free to point out any inaccuracies, because I'd dearly love to be wrong about this.)

    Okay, there you go ... "punk". This shall be one of the first Rubicons we're going to have to cross in the context of this discussion.

    In a prison context, a third sex has been created - the punk. Above a snitch on the jailhouse hierarchy but precariously so, the punk is a smaller, weaker man who, upon his arrival in the correctional system, is preyed upon by stronger, more savvy inmates. Once he is "turned out" and is "wearing a punk jacket" or "lying that way", THAT'S IT. Everybody knows and everybody tries to take advantage. His choices now are limited to - do I pick one individual to be "owned" by or do I become "group property?" The punk truly is a third sex - a man who is universally treated like a woman, in an all-male environment. Often, they are assigned female names, they can be sold as chattel, they are forced to wear "feminine" clothing and their lot in life is scullery-maid/sex-slave. Upon his eventual release from the correctional system, one cannot possibly understand the feelings of such an individual. There's a Jim Goad interview with the man who founded the Stop Prisoner Rape organization that is HORRIFYING. I urge you to seek it out but I can't link to it. YOU GO FIND IT. ("Donny The Punk".Your mileage may vary when it comes to Jim Goad.)Also, the memoir FISH by T Parsell is very illuminating, in terms of resources. (And? As I've mentioned? This is hardly a new phenomena. Ancient Greece was SWIMMING in it.Rome, too. Oh, yes.)

    On the other hand, I like punk rock. A bit anyway. Which sounds like someone being sodomized with an electric guitar.

    Sorry. Rambling.
  2.  (10841.13)
    It has unfortunitly become just another plot point, it's a serious thing, personnally i've no experience with it i do have experience of a close family member being murdered, my favourite comic characters are two that use that event as a major factor in their backstories (Batman and Punisher) and for a time tried to figure out why exactly I was drawn to these characters, but when it comes to rape in the media, 'Law and Order: SVU' goes way overboard on it, but that format is limited to 45 minutes barring the occasinal two parter to tell a story, but with comics my problem with the portrayl of sexual violence, is how it pops up in one companies work a lot, and the reason I stopped reading Alan Moore's work is because eveything i read had a rape in it.
    In movies I thought those scenes in 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' (Swedish) where a tough/uncomfortable watch, 'Mysterious Skin' also, The only movie I have nearly turned off because it was getting too much to watch was 'Martyrs'. Rape is a crime on a level with murder, and being raised by three women due to the latter, I've grown up with a deep respect for women and Any visual depiction of violence or sexual violence is never going to sit comfortably with me.
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2012 edited
    Sexual violence an aspect of society and should be reflected in drama but if it feels like a cheap trick to make the story “gritty” or to quickly up the stakes and make it so the villain deserves what’s coming to him - it’s bullshit because it’s bad writing and cynical.

    The Boys has some rape which, like in Crossed, is character driven and thematic / statement driven. If the creators aren't using the event to say something about something, then it's exploitive.

    Alan Moore is interesting to me. On the whole I liked Neonomicon and his justification of the rape in that book was "I was writing horror so I wanted to have something horrific and it was the most horrific thing" - and it was horrific and framed accordingly, but he comes to mind with the question "where does one draw the line."
    In the build up to the final LOEG: Century I re-read a lot of Moore and realised there is A LOT of rape in his work - to the point I was reading 1969 going - oh there hasn't been a rape yet – but turned the page and Mina’s on her back getting molested - and I was thinking - if you can't stop writing rape you've crossed the line, ' cause - stop writing rape all the time. As individual story incidents I think they’re well written and well handled but through sheer volume I, personally, think it crosses the line, maybe because I’d be embarrassed to have written a string of rape scenes.

    @Steve Toase
    I found This is England’s rape scene horrible to watch because it felt so REAL – the set up and execution were dramatically perfect. I don’t know if the reactions in the linked article above were just in response to the sexual violence but to the way it was staged (so it felt it was happening in your front room) and the expectations a TV audience - I’m thinking of the reactions Six Feet Under got for its violent episode “That’s My Dog” were they changed to structure of the show to keep the audience feel trapped. Some big time critic argued this betrayed the trust the creators had with the audience.

    Less graphically (and aimed at a different demographic) Veronica Mars deftly used what could have felt like a clichéd rape back story to define Veronica by showing it’s implications on her wider world. I think it worked really well.

    There’s an episode of Cracker about a serial rapist entitled “Men Should Weep” that covers a lot thematically about sex, gender roles, death and power which I was never really sure worked as well as the producers might have hoped but – it’s a heavy episode and not one I'd enjoy watching on repeat to pick up the nuances.
  3.  (10841.15)
    On the other hand, I like punk rock. A bit anyway. Which sounds like someone being sodomized with an electric guitar.

    my ears are burning...this seems like a tenuous link to make to the thread at hand, but hey what do i know? im just gonna say that any link between prison rape and punk rock as a concept doesnt make much sense in 2012.

    ANYWAY in regards to the actual issue at hand, rape in media is BORING. regardless of the context, it just strikes me as shitty writing. the comic in question seems like an extra ridiculous place to see it considering it was Blatant Pandering to the vocal fanbase that said they wanted more female characters and creators. the existence of this book by itself just struck me as foolish to begin with- Amethyst? thats the best they could do. and the female writer they found was 'uh, i dont know, find someone. the old writer of Jem? sure, works for me!'

    i mean fuck really? Jem? this is where the bar is set at DC these days?

    as a side note for my own ramble time, a trend i have noticed online is this term 'Trigger Warning'- wow, that just strikes me as inane. i dont expect there to be fucking warnings when i read stories of child abuse at the hands of their drug addict parents, and hey, look at me, im able to read things on the internet. im not saying that survivors need to just 'toughen up' or some shit, but if you have been assaulted and you are still in such a vulnerable place mentally that you cant handle just the mention of rape (or, in the case of the last one i saw, Tura Satana going after her rapists and physically beating them senseless) , maaaaayyybe random blogs arent the place for you to be right now, until you are a bit more stable and healed
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2012
    Trigger Warning isn't just for random blogs, though. I've seen webcomics put up comics about cutting, and given that webcomics tend to have more or less stable fan bases, they need to realize that maaaaaybe one of their readers is sensitive to triggering. I dont see why, if someone is advertising a show or a movie or a book, and are trying to get new readers interested in their work, and they have depicted a really traumatizing event in their work, they shouldn't include a trigger warning.
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2012
    @ joe - it was a joke. 'Punk' also means 'small or mis-shapen'.
  4.  (10841.18)
    i didnt think you were real serious, but i usually like to stop those things before they become some bizarre 9 page derail hahaha
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2012
    I find it interesting that people get up in arms about there being a 'rape trope' and an abundance of rape showing up in the media, but you can pretty much have any character in any story get murdered for any reason and it's perfectly fine. Just off the top of my head, Norm MacDonald has a routine where he literally just describes how he would kill someone and dispose of the body, and it's a decent bit of anti-comedy. Can you imagine what would happen if a comedian got up on stage and all they did was describe how they would go about raping someone? It's a strange double standard.
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2012 edited

    I think rape in a story is fine as long as it's advancing the plot of something somehow. One of my issues with a lot of the works of Garth Ennis, as the Toronto whitechapel folk know, is that he likes the just throw rape and violence in like glitter for the hell of it. It's why I stopped reading The Boys (Herogasm, while funny for the first three pages, made it so that I couldn't pick up another issue) it's why I haven't read much Crossed (I get it, the plot is driven but having to see it is a personal taste thing for me) and so on. However, the rape in say, Neonomicon, advanced the plot. I got it.

    I am curious what people here think of jokes where rape is involved. Personally I think there's a big difference to rape being an element to the joke and rape being the joke. An example, I guess, would be the infamous Penny Arcade (my they do get mentioned a lot here) Dickwolves strip, which caused a huge stir. Personally I thought it was a good joke on how players feel about going on quests (a joke Penny Arcade plays on a lot.

    As something to look at, an article from Jezebel came out during the whole Daniel Tosh thing that I found to be an interesting read. How to make a rape joke. I found it made good cases for both sides.

    Say you knew for a fact that in any given audience there was at least one person who had been mangled in an industrial threshing accident—JUST STICK WITH ME HERE—and that we lived in a culture where industrial threshing victims were routinely blamed/shamed for their own death and/or disfigurement because they wore the "wrong" overalls, and people were afraid to report threshing accidents because the police department just employs a bunch of threshing machines in badges and little hats anyway (and everyone knows threshing machines protect their own), and historically humans were sold into marriages with threshing machines where they could just be tossed in there and chopped up willy-nilly. Oh, and also 90% of the comics in the show (yourself included) are threshing machines too, but since you're this young, liberal brand of threshing machine with newfangled safety guards and you fervently don't believe in mangling humans, you think it's fair game for you to make "jokes" about idiot humans getting their faces and limbs shredded by those more sinister other threshing machines. But do you really think that isn't going to traumatize the fuck out of some humans? Even if you're "joking"? If you care so much about humans not getting threshed to death, then wouldn't you rather just stick with, I don't know, your new material on barley chaff (hey, learn to drive, barley chaff!)?

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