Rape as Characterization

Assaulting the Narrative: Rape as Characterization

Viktoriya Moderator, Cara Ellison, Den Patrick, Jane Fae, Sophia McDougall, Tom Pollock

Note: Some of the men’s names may be inaccurate. I somehow thought there were only 4 speakers. Sorry about that, Den.

9Worlds GeekFestStarted late. Very full. 1:15 min. 45 minutes discussion from panel. Open to audience after that.

Rape and sexual assault in fiction. A part of what is portrayed in fiction.

Clara–track organizer… If you need to leave, feel free. Dedicated listener on hand, if you need to talk. If folks need to get out, give them space to get out.

Viktoriya–moderator

Jane Fae–author, write about oppression of women minorities
like musicals, lot of imagery turns up

Tom Pollock–author,

Sophia McDougall–author, also of kids’ book, wrote “The Rape of James Bond” about sexual violence about men and women

Dan Patrick–full-time writer, don’t normally speak before midday

Cara Ellison–address sexual assault in video games
Hot XX Miami 2 article, very well known on internet

Viktoriya;
pop culture is infused
What would be worse than that, would not having it talked about at all… Part of reality. How do we go about critiquing it?

What are the pitfalls?

Aware of sexual violence content. Is this a growth in sexual violence portrayals or more tuned to it?

Jane:
Always been there, since Shakespeare on through.
Man of LaMancha, pivotal point is rape
Problem is musical trivialization.
Dean Martin and Doris Day sing about it every Christmas. “no cabs out there. What’s in this drink?”

Sophia:
Could see some authors ignore it a little more.
Thinking about who does it well.
Is it when it’s done from victim’s POV? Absolutely critical to plot?
Tale from Time Being–serious sexual assault near end–treats it respectfully and well
Need to know something about it. Listened to survivors or done some research.
Media know it is something bad and has emotional power. Lots of writers don’t know much beyond that.

Cara:
rise of internet in particular, notice it more because have more language to describe what we don’t want to see
when rape is addressed in negative manner
“xx justice movement” on the internet
More support out there and more engagement with writers who write these narratives.
Seems more ubiquitous, but has been there from beginning.

Sophia:
identity of people discussing it has changed
The Monk (gothic)
These are books written by people who are unlikely to be victims.
More writers are survivors.
Increasing body of people talking about survival.

Cara:
Internet has given voice to the survivors.
Less marginalized.

Tom:
An example more visible and problematic.
People adapting book from television, turn complicated consensual sex into rape.

Jane:
So much film and television is dominated by men, are these the best people to be commenting on this topic?
Used as this character is evil.
Never get the aftermath. Never see what happens to the victim.
Not about that single event. Also what comes up there.
Did some brief research in comics… How many male comic characters were raped–3. All three survived and were raped by women.
Are men the best commenters on this particular subject?

Viktoriya:
One of the things you raised, differing treatments in the narratives. Are there differing standard approaches to different types of rapes? Violent rape versus coerced or drugged assault.

Sophia:
male rape–wrote “Rape of James Bond” sick of “it’s realistic” There are situations when rape becomes more likely. Don’t need loads and loads of this. Dangerous situations where becomes increasingly likely for women is also more dangerous for men.
Game of Thrones
male characters outnumber female characters 3 to 1 in fiction
male rapes do not outnumber female rapes at the same level
folks who disagreed said “here’s a male rape”
I don’t think the writers or readers experience female on male rape as a serious issue.
Similar to genre of romance when it was hard to write a woman enjoying sex, but could have forced sex… No transgressive sex. … “bodice ripper”
Men being ravished by beautiful evil women… absolve viewpoint character of blame… Same as bodice ripper.
Said that it isn’t treated the same. bUt it is at different times

Jane:
different narratives generate different types of rape
LaMancha in his madness she is redeemed. His high ideals and her belief is what gets her raped. On stage often shown as gang rape. In cinema the set up and then sat at the roadside with her clothes tattered and torn.
Where is the focus?
If focus is on Don Quixote, motivation? or about her redemption?
What is rape doing in Robin Hood? played for comedy
Rocky Horror fans, double rape in there–Song cut from the movie. Brad’s song. Turned that event from comedy into something else.

Cara:
video games usual discussion is problematic to say the least that you have control of the character and then your character goes on to seem like they rape a woman character, but then meant to be a film scene.
Doubly manipulated.
Why would do first place? Trivialize it.
Main discussion in comments say I ignored the fact that the game was entirely about violence. “Rape is just another form of violence.” killed 100s of dudes, why rape a problem?
Difficult to explain to someone why… disproportionately effects rape in our society…

Sophia:
Prince of Wands, too rape-y for me
guy said torture-y and murder-y–
but you aren’t going through life trying to avoid being tortured or murdered, but women 1 in 6 are experienced.

Tom:
not a lot of murder survivors

Sophia:
if people in an audience, 1/4 of people in room had been murdered, 25% ghosts, but not the case and so it is easier to talk about murder

Cara:
killing does trivialize war
military violence is obvious on the front of the video box
but when people drop rape in like it is nothing, and then just expect us to deal with it, seems to trivialize
Veronica Mars–first watched, brought up fact might have been raped, handled well, treated as important to address by multiple characters

Sophia:
followed Veronica Mars intermittently–but bothered me
became obsessive about rape
this rape was even more rape
there are these rapists over here…

Viktoriya:
Jane, interesting point. Different narratives generate rape. What functions can rape serve in narratives?

Jane:
character’s motivation–most potent horror thing, can be child abuse or rape or someone has murdered your entire family
spoiler–killer is failed transwoman–big thing in past and makes you in present
big distinction–is it motivating character and developing from it? or is it a motif to respond to?

Tom:
or to demonstrate villainy
(He wrote about sexual assault in books. Tell us.)
Went back and forth about putting it in and taking it out. Left it in when I felt I had insulated it into the plot. … Raped and therefore became a superhero. Didn’t want that.
Read blog post on why should not read about life/death. Wanted to engage with topic. First place, friend survivor. Her complaint about way rape is portrayed is so trivialized OR single unilateral defining nature.
10% of world’s population. Don’t get closure. Have to make their lives about something else as well.

Jane:
tragedy
crap piece of narrative in Le Mis
what is the point of that arc? stepping stone for daughter and main character. There and brushed away.

Viktoriya:
What does it tell us about the rapist? Romanticizing villains. Is rape what keeps them from being a fan favorite.

Cara:
Silent Villain–PyramidHead primarily rapes people in this game–he’s a fan favorite
Particular fetish.

Viktoriya:
fan favorite, despite attempted Rape
Buffy and Spike

Sophia:
that was really bad for both characters
didn’t work
authors wanted to write something about it
but it destroyed what was going on and so everyone ignored it–
But then there are media where it is incorporated and coherent and you will still see excuse making and romanticizing.
Prince of X character, yes he rapes all these people, but he’s growing

TOm:
interesting to see what happens with Jaime Lancehead?

Someone:
Half Nelson film, about school teacher, managing drug habit
starts dating another teacher, tries to force his way into apartment–she hits him. He spends next minutes crawling around apologizing.
Nadir of the character.
What is a good depiction? This one.
But also it addresses the aftermath for him.
Something you rarely see. You get to see in this film.
Can imagine the tension in the staff room is awful. Do see it.

Jane:
Disney film.
Played Esmerelda… Hunchback… French music with Belle. Quasimodo and Captain X and someone else doing a love song together. Exposes that she is an object. Final staging, 3 of them surround her and she is lying back. That is what they want to do. They are defining her and are going to use her.

Sophia:
enchant her and marry her (marry her against her will) Aladdin?
hero saved the day but…
–Maleficent is effectively a story about rape, symbolism of rape. all about what victim does. Does in a way define her. Plot becomes about her doing things in reaction. Prophecy at beginning hero or villain but Maleficent was both.

Jane:
always wrong to say that it is because of that thing that happens to her
thing that happens AND the revenge
that is a story about developing as a character–not a prisoner of that bad thing

Sophia:
almost a reaction to the reaction

Viktoriya:
one thing not discussed that much is race aspect. Have rape character of color in background, but not addressed as much as white woman. Use rape to paint a culture as other or less civilized.

Sophia:
does happen, PAC rapist is endemic but PAC rape victims ignored
one example
Requiem for Dream… tiny white woman, falls into prostitution, first person she runs into is predatory black man

Viktoriya:
Lucy, coming out, same thing

Jane:
only doing things if something terrible has happened to them

Sophia:
rape as a compliment
rescued from being boring

Cara:
compliment or punishment
Thelma and Louise–thinking about running away because husbands are awful
Gina Davis’ character is assaulted in the car park
buddy movie–but not like male buddy movie which is fun–wrong and dreadful
That is kind of the inciting incident. That’s when it gets serious and decide to be transgressive.
Narrative is that women can’t be fun unless man does something bad to them.

Sophia:
Thelma and Louise–“empowering adventure film”
horrible things happen and then they die…

Cara:
movie says there is no end/answer to women’s oppression
originally saw them crash and exploded–tested wrong
gutting script
Women can’t go off exciting without something traumatic.

Sophia:
no canon is safe
Buffy–6th season
Tomb Raider–been around rage, retroactive explanation–powers was from men raping women via demons

Cara:
new Tomb Raider lots said about Lara Croft maybe being sexually assaulted
lots more narratives contain underlying threat of rape–
almost every day when I leave my house there is an underlying threat of rape
Tomb Raider blown out of proportion. Don’t think they ever intended to show her. But the marketing people thought it would be sexy to use this threat of rape as sexy.

Sophia:
gamer was male and will want to try and protect her from rapists

Cara:
some people might think of women video game characters

Sophia:
external perspective–You will be feeling sorry for her. You’re not trying to save yourself.

Cara:
huge problem with people expect that men cannot identify with women–that men should not identify with women
writes off 50% of population
telling young boys women are other

Tom:
“There aren’t enough books with boys around” as if boys can’t read books with girls.

Sophia:
8-13 yo, 2 boys and 2 girls (Faeber wouldn’t take it because girls won’t read books about space and boys won’t read books about girls. One publisher had to talk about the girl thing. Did say “Will you turn one of the girls into a boy?” I said no. Okay. Decided would treat this as a feature not a bug. Asked her to write articles about the topic.
Boys wouldn’t read it if equal number of boys.
Disheartened.
Told school children about this. Boys didn’t seem surprised.
Couldn’t have woman on cover of first book because men audience.

Jane:
amazing how production can feed back on this
one of guidance things I was given–can’t write sketches with 2 women in the same sketch

Audience:
shark exploration–
male rape portrayed… Farscape, season 4, big new villain has to be worse than Scorpio so they have her rape him… Rape him. Sexually portrayed. Rape gland drug.
fudge the ball

Sophia:
Does the scent gland confuse him?

Cara:
Wish we addressed consent more–in schools.
Media has a role in that.
Documentary about Train Spotting–weren’t concerned about underage sex, but safe sex wasn’t being portrayed in a movie about drugs–you see him taking off the condom… That made me think a lot more about that when I was younger.
SF shows well placed to do this. Consent. Young people would benefit.

Sophia:
haven’t seen but heard Crighton being raped… But at least recognized it as a bad thing.
casually used–didn’t fudge that it was nonconsensual but still went the sexual route

Cara:
reversal of usual
rape used a lot for someone being sexy
I am wearing an incredibly tight dress, but I’m going to be on a panel about rape. Can I sit there? And that is the issue. People will look down on me for sexual attraction.

Audience:
episode of House which begins with what looks like rape scene, then assaulter collapses and woman asks, “Are you okay?” That was a form of play for them.
Is that a useful introduction to the idea?

Cara:
shock value, for the fun of it
Ha ha, we got you. You’re traumatized and it’s not real.

Sophia:
problem is that you can show a rape scene because people are aware of play

Viktoriya:
seems to be a formulaic way of introducing unknown characters
“stereotypical rape scene of intruder” used both as exploring the rape and rape fantasy

Sophia:
don’t do a rape fakeout
can be it about rape fantasy
don’t pretend it’s not that going in
… comical rape fantasy because she says “Do this while you’re raping it.” and adds it all up

Cara:
needlessly triggering
1/5 of women survivors
dropping it in as joke

Audience:
rape as shorthand
“This person is villain. Woman needs to be doing something important or someone else needs to be doing something important.”
Is that ever acceptable or always lazy?

Sophia:
backstory is incorporating it without shoving it in people’s
villain is abusing power by definition–misogynist area–more likely than not
Some villains are going to be rapists. But has to be done thoughtfully.

Jane:
device used in crime procedure
serial rapist
to increase tension
It’s a narrative device like any other. Less harmful. Thing that’s happened and is in the past.
When you start to tell the audience if this happens, this is what you become, that’s bad.

Cara:
Clint Eastwood, Two Mules? (movie) man is almost hanged. Woman helping, saying let it go. Woman says husband was murdered and I was gang-raped. He said “That’s Different.”

Tom:
embryonic idea
victim blame culture
All the emphasis is put on not to be raped. Casts potential rapists as people we can’t talk to. … You can talk to men about rape and they will change behavior.

Cara:
villains–rape, realistic
Rape usually happens between two people who know each other. Not usually stranger. Usually isn’t someone who isn’t a villain. realistically, should be addressing that more
We are othering rape.

Sophia:
consent
consent can be undermined… romanticization
Love Iron Man. Trying to get Pepper to dance with him. He pulls her onto the dance floor. PROBLEM.

? walking into shower?

Audience:
Mentioned earlier that there’s no explicit rape or explicit threat, but definitely underlying theme. One woman and a lot of aggressive men.
Women will say, “I was creeped out by this.”
Men will say, “What were you creeped out by?”
Do male writers maybe not realize what they are doing?

Cara:
So many more men written into stories than women.
One man with 100 women. Notice atmosphere is different.
Rare even in real life.
Needs to be addressed.
Don’t realize most of the time.

Tom:
I didn’t step out of my room and worry about my outfit.
I don’t think about it all the time. It’s not something I live with because of my gender, it is much less likely to happen to me.
I would assume it would not take up much of their mental space either.
We aren’t talking to young boys enough about consent.

Viktoriya:
End panel… Good portrayal.

Cara:
free game online, really addresses issues online
Incorpari? Strip Tease game. Nature of voyeurism.
About nature of something and has sexual assault in it.
Aftermath of sexual assault is portrayed. Game makes you focus on stripper’s body. She is eventually naked. In between one of the levels a conversation will happen after work, she leaves venue and man rapes her.
Next puzzle you are trying to put her clothes on over bruises.
Addresses all these things really well.

Jane:
audience has to work at
not:
Susan McGlothlin’s track Confession, inspired by her being stalked–not good example
Jacques someone French, rape woman, woman blaming
Yes:
Josie Wales about coming back together again.
Maleficent–not a revenge film.

Tom:
Shawshank Redemption–There are many feed ins to his character. It’s only one of them and is developed over length of film.

Sophia:
Life After Life–reincarnation of woman in 1000s of lives, genuinely realistic–because will be raped in life
written in anger and survivor’s perspective, aftermath is grueling
because of the premise, you do get a release
Premise allows it to never have happened to her.
She starts sort of remembering all the things she has experienced.

The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo–but this panel may have changed my mind
does it need to happen? She already is a kick ass character. I don’t know. Maybe not.

Viktoriya:
Handmaid’s Tale…

My personal recommendation:
Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.

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