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  1.  (10841.1)
    I wrote this after seeing Fincher's version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, pasting relevant paragraph below:

    "Depiction of rape is complicated. One argument is that it can only be justified when it is done from the P.O.V. of the victim, with his or her lack of consent irrevocably clear to the audience. Thus you try and limit the circulation of potentially dangerous sexual fantasies, which might lead to imitative behaviour in the real world. Another is more liberal, one that the Alan Moore who wrote Lost Girls might support. Fantasies are fantasies, who are you to judge what is criminal or not, if it remains inside people's heads? You can be as disgusting as you like, as long as you respect the rules of consent in the real world and ensure you do not hurt anyone. There are difficulties with such a John Stuart Mill view, but I tend to lean towards it rather than try and legislate on how sex should be portrayed in art. We should live in a world where we can be trusted to control our desires, rather than have them controlled by someone else."

    The Alan Moore reference above may be a bit off. A better example might be Milo Manara, who I remember saying somewhere that the erotic aspect of his work (which includes depictions of rape) is ok because it's not real, it's just a book. From what I remember, he then goes on to suggest that porn actresses who debase themselves for their viewers' pleasure are performing a kind of public service and should be venerated, which strikes me as an infantile response to the porn industry, and may indicate some of the problems with his attitude.

    But basically, I think my liberal belief that you should be able to produce whatever filth or stupidity you want and have it tried in the court of public opinion is compatible with my desire for beauty and intelligence in the art I consume. When judging the latter w/r/t rape, I prefer to do it case-by-case, that is to say, look at what a work's intentions are, what it says about rape and whether that's ok, rather than build rules for the portrayal of rape to be applied to everything you consume.

    Fwiw, I thought the rape of Lisbeth in Fincher's movie overstepped the line, the scene should have cut when the door closed. More broadly, I thought the film failed in its intention to condemn violence against women. Manara's intentions as a pornographer are pretty clear, so I tend to give him a pass, tho once you get past the astonishing artwork the dude strikes me as pretty creepy. Moore's fixation on rape is certainly creepy as well, but it looks like he's aware of it, and that makes a massive difference (tho should say haven't read anything of his after the awful LoEG 1910).
  2.  (10841.2)
    Some of the hardest descriptions for me to read have been in Margaret Atwood's work. In The Handmaid's Tale I could see the relevance, but in Oryx and Crayke I found the extremely graphic portrayals of child porn excessive, incredibly uncomfortable and not relevant to the plot, but I've not seen much comment on this, maybe because Atwood ( who's writing I love generally. Blind Assassin is a stunning book) gets more of a pass because she is seen as literature rather than genre.
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeSep 22nd 2012
    THE WARS by Timothy Findley has a male rape scene that takes place entirely in the dark, is terrifying and then is never mentioned again. Been a while since I read it (high school, which was ... when, again? Jeez, that's a lotta chemically poisoned water under the bridge) but I questioned it when I read it.

    Atwood gets a pass for a lot of things but she does a fair bit of genre writing. (Her last three novels have all been 'science fiction-y') I've always gotten the feeling that she hates men, as most if not all of her male characters are either weak or evil or both.
  3.  (10841.4)
    One problem I have with is the depiction of rape in most media as The Worst Thing That Could Possibly Happen to a person. It shouldn't be trivialized in jokes, either, but the trope of the rape survivor (or rape victim's survivor) having their entire personal motivation wrapped up in the experience, tends to glorify it, in a way. It's a traumatic experience. You get thru it. You get on with life. At least that's how I know it.

    As something that exists in real life, I think it should be depicted in popular media, but of course I don't give most popular media high marks for how well they handle it. Using it to shorthand how evil the villain is, or how determined the survivor-hero is... is just unimaginative writing.

    I've used rape as an element in a few stories I've written, primarily in porn, as rape fantasy. I don't believe that fantasy is inherently harmful, even if it involves things that would be harmful if acted out. (Most of the video gaming industry is fueled by fantasy violence, after all.) Having a rape fantasy or two doesn't mean someone actually wants to commit a rape, or to be raped, and indulging such fantasies with erotic fiction that reflects them doesn't encourage anyone becoming a perp/victim (and may actually discourage real-life acting out).

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