selenak: (Emma Swan by Hbics)
[personal profile] selenak
Today's [community profile] fandomsecrets has, for about the fifth or sixth time that I recall, a secret involving Once Upon A Time character Regina Mills aka The Evil Queen and the fact that back in season 1, she had a non-consensual sexual relationship with a male supporting character (he was the one non-consenting). Now Regina did a lot of other villainous things (including ordering massacres), but I don't think any of them, with the arguable exception of her gaslighting her son, is brought up and argued about more. (I may be wrong about that, since I try to keep away from most OuaT fannish discussions unless I know the people in question.) Cue usual "oh no she didn't!"/"oh yes she did", as well as "if she was a male character, this wouldn't even be a question" (both from the "oh yes she did" side in the sense that a male ruler ordering a female prisoner who is revolted by him into his bedchamber would not be interpreted as anything but a rapist, and from the "oh no she didn't" side (which argues that male fictional rapists get excused all the time). In between, someone points out that Regina did a whole lot of other stuff which doesn't get argued about, and why is rape treated as the ultimate crime? Good question, and not just regarding Regina. It's the crime most often named when people argue why they can't root for the redemption of character X and/or the crime most argued to not even have been committed by X from people who want said character redeemed (or see him, and in rarer cases her, already as good).

Now I think that "more/less evil" isn't a criteria you can put on rape versus, say, murder. They're both heinous actions. But it's still worth noting that as far as fannish discussions are concerned, the killing score of sympathetic villains/morally ambiguous characters seems to bother fans a whole lot less than if their canon shows them committing, or trying to committ, a rape. At a guess, part of this is that fantasy violence (especially if the canon avoids showing much of the resulting dead bodies and gore) is easier to dissociate from real life, while rape is not. And then, there is probably the fear: "I like this character, maybe I even love him/her or fantasize about him/her, I want this character to succeed, to win, to be loved - but this character committed rape. What does this say about me? Therefore, this character hasn't really committed rape. The fantasy surroundings make it not count. Or I take the Doylist appraoch and declare it was the writers (whereas the character's other actions which endeared him/her to me in the first place were of course Watsonian and only the character). Or: the character was himself/herself a victim and so traumatized that she/he can't be held accountable for their actions. Or the ever popular: hero X did something just as bad, so there!"

I decided to do some self inventory and see which of the characters whom I like (in varying degrees ranging "mildly fond" to "love and adore") comitted rape in their canons, and how fannish discussion (if it exists at all) handles that. Let's start with the Romans, because if you are in a slave owning society, and among the owners, and also not in a show that deliberately avoids the issue, chances are that you're guilty as charged, but even so, some characters go above and beyond:

Rome: Mark Antony, definitely. One of his very first scenes shows him having sex with a peasant woman against a tree mid-travelling. I doubt he bothered to ask her first. There is also an episode in which he wants to have sex before getting out of bed, Atia is not in the mood and orders one of her slaves to accommodate him. Which btw means Atia is enabling said rape. Also a rapist: Pullo. Who is in love with his slave (later freedwoman, even later wife) when having sex with her but doesn't bother to ask for her consent, either and is shocked when finding out that upon being freed, she wants to marry a fellow slave (cue death of male slave). I'm fond of Mark Antony, Atia and Pullo. I think the only one whose actions get debated in this context is Pullo, with the argument being "but he thought Eirene was already in love with him!" and/or "different times". Well, yes, different times, and presumably he did think she was in love with him until disabused of the notion. He still didn't ask, and she was his property at the time, to do with as he pleased. The scene as shown also had her enduring, not responding, to his caresses.

Spartacus: nearly every Roman character, sooner or later, but re: the topic in question, let's stick with Batiatus and Lucretia, both of whom use their slaves as sexual toys for themselves and for other people. I don't think I've seen anyone saying Batiatus isn't guilty, but I did some some debate around Lucretia, specifically, her relationship with the gladiator Crixus. (The debate nexter brings up all the other slaves Lucretia and Batiatus use to turn themselves on at all.) The "oh no she didn't" argument usually goes thusly: she developed genuine feelings for him, then she thought he also loved her, and then there was that one time where she didn't have sex with him when he didn't want to because she was concerned for his life (plot reasons). This ignores that Spartacus isn't subtle about the whole ownership point: Crixus and Lucretia first start to have sex because she orders him to, he is her property, and the fact she doesn't insist that one time doesn't negate all the other times. (Not to mention Lucretia's reaction once she finds out Crixus loves someone else.) Lucretia is played by Lucy Lawless, and she was one of my favourite characters on the show. She's also, no question about it, a rapist. (Ditto, of course, her husband, whom I was also fond of, horrible person who he was.)

Moving on to contemporary shows with long lived characters:

Highlander: Methos, obviously. Universal fannish favourite, and for quite a while, he was mine, too. (Then Amanda overtook him.) (I still like Methos a lot, though.) He's also, no question about it, a rapist, over a really long time. And wouldn't you know, while fandom never tried to explain the pillaging part in "rape and pillage" away, or the massacring of "tens of thousands", au contraire, thought that Methos' Bronze Age raider past made him even more interesting than he'd already been, it solved the "rape" part by vilifying the surviving victim of same and/or write stories in which Methos was the one raped (by other characters), which made him so traumatized that he, da capo, al fine. Oh, and of course times were different.

Buffy and Angel: oh, the can of worms to dwarf most others, and I really don't want the discussion to end up in a reiteration of the Spike Wars, but it would be cheating not to bring the Buffyverse up. So: Angel(us): definitely a rapist, and not just in a metaphorical bloodsucking vampire way. (There are the servant girl in the Amends flashback and Holtz' wife, and the implication is certainly that there were others.) (And driving mortal Drusilla into insanity culminated in Angel and Darla having sex in front of her before Angel turned her; what do you want to bet they left it at taking her blood?) Spike: see above re: Spike Wars, avoidance of same. But even leaving out Seeing Red, he mentioned multiple rapes in Never Leave Me, which however often gets dismissed as "he just wanted to get Buffy to stake him on that occasion" (well, yes, but that doesn't mean he made that up; over at AtS, near the end of Damages, a key Spike self realization is his admittance that while he wasn't Dana's tormentor, he did do similar things to a great many other people). Darla: while we don't see her having on screen sex with an unwilling victim, she certainly gets a kick of watching her darling boy doing so. Faith: when about to strangle Xander, she sexually assaulted him as well (and he did say no repeatedly). I do like Angel, Spike and Faith, a lot. Darla is my overall AtS favourite.

Torchwood: my own assumption when watching the Torchwood pilot, in which, among other things, Owen uses a alien pheromene McGuffin to make himself sexually irresistable when going out) was that when he used it on the boyfriend of the girl he'd been hitting on, he made a quick getaway as opposed to having a threesome, so that on this particular occasion, no sex took place. However, the original intention certainly had been to have sex with the girl, who showed no inclination to respond to his overtures before he used the pheromene McGuffin. Which, yes, makes Owen an attempted rapist (and since I doubt this was the first time he used the McGuffin, I'd be ready to drop the "attempted".) Owen was my favourite TW character during the first two seasons.

Being Human: Mitchell and Hal, step forward. Definitely, like Angelus, guilty of rape in the literally sexual as well as the blood taking vampire sense. Neither of them were my favourites in their canons, but I definitely had times of being fond of both, and my Mitchell issues weren't due to him having raped people (also my Mitchell issues were brilliantly resolved by canon, but that's another story).

Once upon a Time: and we're back to Regina. Who isn't my favourite, but I like her and am certainly on board with her current storyline. In addition to being a multiple murderer, guilty of mental and physical torture on various occasions, and the kidnapper to dwarf all other kidnappers (it's hard to beat transferring everyone in Storybrooke from one dimension to another in order to play out her fantasy scenario, but Regina is also a kidnapper on the mundane literal level, see also: Hansel and Gretel, Owen), she is most definitely a rapist.

And now for the future - including the wretched Prophets of DS9 would be cheating, because while they do committ rape I never could stand them, and they're not fannishly popular, either, so they don't qualify.

Babylon 5: I was going back and thro whether or not to include this example, because it's not sexual non-con, and if you start to include fantasy metaphors, you don't have to bother to differentiate with all the vampires between literal rape and blood taking to begin with. But still: what happens in the episode Dust to Dust is a mental assault/violation which gets textually, on screen, called a rape (Bester, who ought to know, explains the effect of Dust that way in the exposition scene early on), so I'll include it. Anyway, the perpetrator, G'Kar, who hits rock bottom here, followed by enlightenment, is most definitely among my favourite B5 characters.


In conclusion: I seem to be fond of a lot of fictional rapists. (Or fictional versions of historical characters, in the Roman cases.) The fact they raped people isn't why I like them, obviously, but neither did it stop me from liking them (or prevent me from ever developing sympathy, in the cases where the rapes happen early on). Whereas I don't think there is a rapist among the few fictional characters I have a visceral loathing for, come to think of it, which presumably goes to show rape isn't one of my triggers, at least not in the sense of reacting with "I no longer like this character" or "I have to explain this away in order to continue liking this character". I think my own inner self justification for this, beyond "but they're interesting", is to keep their victims in mind (and in both Methos' and Spike's cases, write fanfiction from their pov). (The other day I came across yet another variation of "but how rude and horrid are the Charmings and the rest of Storybrooke for not wanting to have dinner with Regina mid season 2" . Err. Just about anyone from the Enchanted Forest, with the exception of Rumplestilskin who did his share to form her and besides is guilty of centuries more crimes, is justified in not wanting to socialize with Regina for the rest of their lives. ) (Though since Regina has interesting interactions with other characters, I'm glad some are around her anyway.) And not to prettify anything they've done. Especially when/if I want them to redeem themselves.

Date: 30 Nov 2013 10:40 (UTC)
liviapenn: miss piggy bends jail bars (remains sexy while doing so) (Default)
From: [personal profile] liviapenn

But it's still worth noting that as far as fannish discussions are concerned, the killing score of sympathetic villains/morally ambiguous characters seems to bother fans a whole lot less than if their canon shows them committing, or trying to committ, a rape.

Possibly because in real life, a lot more people know RL rape survivors than they do people who were murdered, just because rape is vastly more common than murder? (And I would bet rape is also a lot more evenly distributed among race/class/geographic location than murders are.) And in RL, a murderer is far more likely to get arrested and at least go on trial of murder, than a rapist is likely to even be reported for rape. Meaning that in RL, a lot more people have had the actual experience of seeing a rapist get away with rape (and hearing people in the rapist's social circle excuse and defend him) than they have of seeing someone in their social circle commit murder and get away with zero consequences. If murder was as common as rape and *every single* murder victim was smeared as "asking for it, must have attacked first, totally looked threatening" then possibly people would also be far more offended by fictional murderers.

Date: 30 Nov 2013 15:58 (UTC)
liviapenn: miss piggy bends jail bars (remains sexy while doing so) (Default)
From: [personal profile] liviapenn
There is not really a way to say this without it sounding like a GOTCHA QUESTION, which I don't mean it to be, but do you think it's significant that you didn't name a single "real modern-day life, no fantasy/sf elements" show in your list? (I mean, "I find modern day non-fantasy/sf shows boring and don't watch them" is a totally fine answer and would probably be my answer to the same question.) But still.

For the fantasy shows where the bad acts are hundreds of years in the characters' past and they clearly admit & repent their actions, it's... easier to still like the character. Although as likeadeuce says you start to wonder about the Doylist reasons for giving characters these backstories. (Although neither Angel nor Methos were protagonists or even regulars on their respective shows, they were still pretty popular supporting characters, and then Angel did get his own show...) It's like a moebius strip of manpain. You commit a terrible act, and then you can mope around feeling bad about it, and then people resent you for hurting them, and then you can mope around feeling bad about how people resent you for your terrible acts.

It also occurs to me that for "Spartacus" and "Rome" the characters who aren't directly complicit in violence, murder, rape, torture and slavery are probably the small minority, so people who have a problem with those kinds of characters probably wouldn't be watching the show to begin with. (Although the people who *don't* have a problem with a show like "Rome" might if the show was called "Antebellum Charleston".)
Edited Date: 30 Nov 2013 15:59 (UTC)

Date: 30 Nov 2013 22:40 (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
From: [personal profile] sholio
There's also a tendency for rape to be handwaved within its own canon in a way that murder may not be -- which of course comes back to societal attitudes towards rape. I think that's especially true of rape involving drugs or other forms of coercion (as opposed to characters being held down and forcibly raped) -- in several of the above examples, particularly Regina + Graham and the Owen situation, I'm not sure canon itself recognized what happened as rape, and there's another example in Life on Mars where it's clearly rape that takes place but equally clear that it's not perceived as rape by any of the protagonists.

I think this is a definite factor in my own circles of fandom among fans who refuse to forgive various characters for acts of sexual violence. In both the canon AND among certain elements of the fandom, the character is easily forgiven and their deeds swept under the rug of collective fannish/canonical amnesia, so there's a reciprocal tendency to go But wait, doesn't anyone remember what they DID? It's not necessarily that rape is a uniquely heinous crime (not that I'm suggesting it isn't sometimes treated that way) but rather that this particular tendency to forgive/excuse/explain away rapists in canon and in fandom replicates a chilling RL dynamic that, as you said, a lot of us have experience with, in our social circles if not directly.

(And I say this as someone who really loves several of the above characters. It's not necessarily a dealbreaker for me, but it is for a lot of people I know, and I think it has something to do with this.)

Date: 1 Dec 2013 03:59 (UTC)
liviapenn: miss piggy bends jail bars (remains sexy while doing so) (Default)
From: [personal profile] liviapenn

I think that's especially true of rape involving drugs or other forms of coercion (as opposed to characters being held down and forcibly raped) -- in several of the above examples, particularly Regina + Graham and the Owen situation, I'm not sure canon itself recognized what happened as rape, and there's another example in Life on Mars where it's clearly rape that takes place but equally clear that it's not perceived as rape by any of the protagonists.

Yeah, that is true too. It's really irritating when it seems like *the writers* are trying to minimize or excuse a character's bad actions. (Like, this used to drive me crazy on soap operas, where everyone has an institutional memory of about 5 minutes. "Poor Sami! It's so sad that no one thinks she's a good mother! She's such a victim!!" "Uh... Sami drugged and raped Will, then purposely got pregnant by his brother, so she could pretend the baby was Will's, for YEARS?")

And I think it really doesn't help on fantasy/SF shows when canon is totally inconsistent on some topics that are really important in terms of identity & consent. (Is the vampire the same person as the former human? is a vampire glamour/mind whammy the equivalent of skillful flirting, or a roofie? did the people in the Dollhouse give informed consent? etc.) So you have these huge debates about whether this thing that happened *even was rape* or whether, you know, a reincarnation is the same person as the previous person, when you generally don't have those issues with killing.

I mean, BTVS fandom can debate "Was it ethical for Giles to kill Ben if it was the only way to stop Glory," but there is no doubt of the facts of what actually happened-- the writers clearly wanted us to understand every aspect of the situation. (No, Ben could not have physically fought off Giles if he wanted to. No, Giles wasn't defending himself at the time. No, Giles did not slip and accidentally have his hands fall on Ben's throat, etc.) But yeah, there often isn't the same *care* given to a depiction of sexual assault. "Is a magic spell the same as physical coercion...? Eh, let's leave it ambiguous."

Date: 30 Nov 2013 12:03 (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
I wonder if some if it is the idea that murder is done for Reasons (whether they be good, bad or otherwise, there's usually some plot behind it) whereas rape is not usually shown as something done for specific reasons. Regina killed, hurt and kidnapped people for very specific reasons, most of them selfish and evil but all mentioned, whereas raping Graham was for no reason other than enjoying it. Same goes for Owen in Torchwood (he was my least favourite character and this was a big part of it, though Tosh mooning over him was a bigger part!)

Still, I'm trying to think of plots where rapists have a purpose for what they do, and the only two I can think of showed the (male) character as the antagonist. There was a Criminal Minds episode where a man with terminal cancer was raping women who had been to a fertility clinic in the hope that they would keep the baby and give him "immortality" that way. In the X-Files episode, the character used his shape-shifting powers to impersonate Luke Skywalker and impregnate his ex-girlfriend who was a huge Star Wars fan (plus swapping other men's sperm for his own at the fertility clinic where he worked...hmm there's a theme here!) Still, those are shows with regulars vs antagonists in most episodes, and most of the antagonists are shown as evil when they murder, too.

Oh, another one from Buffy: Faith-in-Buffy's-body and Riley! She has a reason (to take everything of Buffy's) and she is treated quite sympathetically; it's Riley who gets in trouble from Buffy for not realising. So maybe it's the lack of an in-character reason that gets people riled up?

Date: 30 Nov 2013 12:51 (UTC)
nomadicwriter: [Doctor Doom] Victor Von Crankypants (young Victor Von Doom)
From: [personal profile] nomadicwriter
Yes, I just made a similar comment over on Livejournal: I think fictional murderers are generally given some sort of rationale for why they thought killing was necessary or their victim(s) deserved to die - it might be completely wrong-headed, but you can still see how they justified it to themselves, and so often find something to sympathise with in their motives, even if the crime itself is inexcusable. (For instance, a character like Magneto, who's done some terrible things, but all the name of a sincere belief that it's necessary to protect his people.) Whereas fictional rapists are usually given no other motivation than taking what they want because they can, and it's harder to find a spark of anything potentially redeemable in that.

Date: 30 Nov 2013 22:30 (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
From: [personal profile] sholio
Also Fringe had an entire storyline along those lines, with a character pretending to be her alternate-universe self. I think most canons that include canonical doubles or characters being possessed/controlled by other entities at least flirt with the possibility of this at some point.

Date: 30 Nov 2013 12:23 (UTC)
likeadeuce: (fivebyfive)
From: [personal profile] likeadeuce
This post is kind of uncanny because I was just thinking about something similar, partly because of this secret. Re: this issue in particular, I think [personal profile] liviapenn has already articulated a lot of the reasons that there's an issue with rape in fiction, and having this conversation in relation to a particular character is in some ways a proxy for having a conversation about whether writers are justified in using this trope in the first place, which I think is worth discussing in all of these cases. The Doylist question, I guess. But the question of 'How you respond to these characters fannishly -- either through fanworks or through the things you are specifically rooting for to happen to a particular character -- once the thing has been done and you want to deal with it without excusing it.'

I was also thinking of this more broadly in terms of the idea of wanting a character's redemption -- as I've noticed that a lot of the characters I've grown attached to recently (or, I guess, ever, with Spike still being an all-time favorite) are guilty of things I'm not sure I want the narrative to condone (Regina herself; Faith; Jaime Lannister, of course, comes on the scene throwing a kid out a window; Tom Zarek was a terrorist of some stripe before his story on BSG even started; the major-though-not-main characters I've written a ton about in Fullmetal Alchemist were actively complicit in genocide in the past, which is a thorny issue when dealing with both the fandom and the narrative - it's so easy to go wrong with this story, maybe it's better not to even touch it?)

Then I wonder what it actually means to talk about wanting a character's 'redemption' if you only mean 'redemption for things that I don't really find that hard to forgive' or 'redemption in the sense of the narrative admitting that what the character did was really not that bad and besides it was someone else's fault and besides Snow & Charming/Buffy/the Starks were the real villains and what could you expect my pet character to do'? (Obviously I don't really think the latter attitude has anything to do with redemption; the former is of course completely understandable but maybe should be called something else. Certainly there are canonical 'redemption arcs' that I can't buy into because I'm so disgusted by the initial behavior -- I had this issue with "District 9" if I recall, where the human protagonist starts out by torching, essentially, alien babies, and my brain basically went, "I don't care WHAT lesson you learn from this point" and checked out; whereas plenty of people found the character arc in that movie compelling, it just pushed one too many buttons for me.)

Sorry for excessive rambling, your post was just RIGHT on point with what I was thinking about.

PS: Re: Faith on the BtVS list, a lot of people have also cited her seduction of Riley while in Buffy's body, which the show addresses more as 'Riley accidentally cheated on Buffy' than 'Riley himself was violated.'

Date: 30 Nov 2013 13:26 (UTC)
likeadeuce: (fivebyfive)
From: [personal profile] likeadeuce
I definitely feel like Faith has one of the best redemption arcs of all time.

And re: Loki, exactly. I like the context that he's used in Thor 2, but far from wanting to be forgiven for what he's done in either of the previous movies, he seems pretty committed to justifying it, because he's just been trying to do the kind of thing that gods are supposed to do.

Date: 30 Nov 2013 15:40 (UTC)
liviapenn: miss piggy bends jail bars (remains sexy while doing so) (Default)
From: [personal profile] liviapenn

Yeah, I don't think Loki was redeemed in Thor 2, so much as Odin was explicitly portrayed as a terrible king and a bad father and an anti-human racist and therefore sorta definitively collapsed the waveform of "Is Loki just a crazy bad seed who is delusional about his perfectly okay childhood, or was Odin actually THE WORST cross-cultural adoptive parent?" (Neither of which has anything to do with "was [bad deed performed by Loki] justified or forgivable?" of course.)

Date: 30 Nov 2013 15:47 (UTC)
trobadora: (Default)
From: [personal profile] trobadora
Excellent point! A lot of people seem to jump straight from "you can see where he gets it, sort of" to "totally excusable" ...

Date: 30 Nov 2013 16:11 (UTC)
liviapenn: miss piggy bends jail bars (remains sexy while doing so) (Default)
From: [personal profile] liviapenn

Well, and the other thing is that certainly, some of Loki's acts (like tricking Laufey into coming to Asgard, then murdering him) might seem appalling to us, but might be justified or even laudable in Asgardian society? It's difficult to know how to judge Loki by Asgardian standards when Odin (or, in Doylist terms, Odin's characterization) is so changeable. Like, do Heimdall and the Warriors Three do ANYTHING in Thor or Thor 2 that isn't basically treason and defying the explicit orders of whoever's king at the time? But, nobody throws THEM in jail. [/awful loki apologist] I'm just sayin'.

Date: 30 Nov 2013 15:44 (UTC)
trobadora: (Default)
From: [personal profile] trobadora
Then I wonder what it actually means to talk about wanting a character's 'redemption' if you only mean 'redemption for things that I don't really find that hard to forgive'

Oh hell yes, this, so much! This is a huge sticking point for me, even ethics aside - I love redemption arcs like nothing else, and I feel these "but it wasn't so bad after all" excuses cheat me out of a real redemption story. *g*

Date: 1 Dec 2013 02:23 (UTC)
likeadeuce: (roy fire)
From: [personal profile] likeadeuce
Yes, I tend to be most interested in redemption stories in extreme/fantasy where it involves something I probably WOULDN'T be inclined to forgive in real life (and possibly am skeptical that a person really would be able to come back from in a psychologically realistic story). But that's often the appeal of the fictional/fantastic approach, and it's not a sign that I condone the action but rather the opposite. Otherwise, who cares about the redemption.

(I think I'm just repeating what we've both already said, oops -- but also, yes.)

Date: 1 Dec 2013 10:08 (UTC)
londonkds: (Bring back Bilis! (by redscharlach))
From: [personal profile] londonkds
Yeah, I think it only recently hit me just how awful it is that Riley got raped, and the following episode so completely takes the attitude of "Riley is a bad boyfriend and a sex-driven boor for not considering the possibility that Buffy's strange behaviour was because of a body-swap, and he needs to apologise to Buffy for it" and has no interest whatsoever in what it means to him emotionally.

Date: 30 Nov 2013 12:37 (UTC)
quarter_to_five: (Default)
From: [personal profile] quarter_to_five
My utterly cynical take on it that rape is just kind of...unsexy. Murder and torture and pretty much anything else has a certain dark glamour to it, but rape is tawdry and, well, un-manly. (a more complex question when female rapists are introduced into the issue, but I haven't seen OUAT and can't think of another one. And I think that female-on-male rape is a little...removed from reality, compare to the other way around. Not that it doesn't happen or to dismiss those experiences, but that it isn't the massive, hurtful, often personal thing on a wide social level.) Either the rapist is such a failure of masculinity that he can't get laid via morally inoffensive methods, or (like Spike) it's this uncontrolled emotional outburst, which is also kind of lame, weak and vulnerable.


The example that comes to mind is literary though - the Flashman books, by George McDonald Fraser. One of the major things that keep Flashman from just being a magnificent bastard sort of character is a rape in the first book. There's lots of dubious-consent with prostitutes and harem-girls and so on, but this one that is really flat out rape. The book even goes out of it's way to highlight that he doesn't even enjoy it and it's purely to put her in her place after she rejects him. I do need to go back and remind myself of that scene whenever I start liking him too much.(of course, I think the character kind of gets toned down in later books.)


re: torchwood - I always absolutely assumed Owen just took them both home. That was the (failed) attempt to keep him from seeming like a rapist.

Date: 30 Nov 2013 13:10 (UTC)
quarter_to_five: (Default)
From: [personal profile] quarter_to_five
I didn't mean to suggest those examples of female-on-male rape isn't real rape in those contexts, just that it's not as triggering an issue for the viewership. There's still something....er, saucy about sexual aggression in women, even when there's a power imbalance that makes it rape.

Flashman is interesting, I think, because while it makes him the protagonist he's still never a heroic figure (not in the first few books at least.) He has a certain outrageous charm, but he's a really, really a terrible person - braggart, coward, traitor, murderer, rapist. The interesting bit is that this is all in the context of the first (I think) Afghan war, so he's part of the whole nine yards of British Imperialism and surrounded people who are often just as bad but are utter hypocrites about it, while he has a fairly clear eyed view of himself and of the situation.

Date: 1 Dec 2013 02:14 (UTC)
nenya_kanadka: Wonder Woman poster (kneeling with sword) (B5 blue stars)
From: [personal profile] nenya_kanadka
There's still something....er, saucy about sexual aggression in women

Yeah, that sort of saddened me about the Faith/Xander thing. Because Faith being all sexually aggressive and assertive? Is hot! Do want! But not with a nonconsenting partner.

*goes away mumbling about the rareness of consensual F/m relationships or, indeed, female agency in fictional sex*

But yes, in general, I'm going to find male on female rape a lot more triggery, because of RL and common fictional depictions. Though a counterexample to that is Ariane Emory in CJ Cherryh's Cyteen, which is a female on male rape that wigs me out worse than even most m/f ones. I had a hard time finishing that book, and haven't reread it. She's one of those rapists with a reason, though: she sets up the rape of a young man on purpose, not because she thinks he's hot necessarily, but so that he will be fucked up in the head later in a way that she can use. Which, to me, is almost worse than the rape itself. But no one said that Ari I was a moral person. (Ari II, who has to deal with all of this as a child coming into the situation unawares, I have more sympathy for.)

Date: 1 Dec 2013 02:18 (UTC)
likeadeuce: (Default)
From: [personal profile] likeadeuce

Yeah, that sort of saddened me about the Faith/Xander thing. Because Faith being all sexually aggressive and assertive? Is hot! Do want! But not with a nonconsenting partner.


Yeah, I have this reaction a bit even to Regina/Graham, the relationship that the post originally addressed. It is sort of hot in a, "Holy crap, that's wrong" way (though it is acknowledged to be wrong in canon in a way Faith/Xander really isn't, so it's not quite the same situation).

Date: 1 Dec 2013 07:24 (UTC)
quarter_to_five: (Default)
From: [personal profile] quarter_to_five
*goes away mumbling about the rareness of consensual F/m relationships or, indeed, female agency in fictional sex*

I was just thinking that there's still a certain amount of...carefullness about female characters in general, and about issues of sexuality and evilness and redemptiveness and that kind of thing in particular. Both on the writing side and on the fan-reaction side. I dunno how many times i've found myself defending some female characters actions that I really thought were pretty bad, because so much of the attacks on her seemed rooted in misogynistic premises, while actually wanting to celebrate that bad stuff, because I find it powerful and interesting and complex, and I want dark and tortured redemption arcs for female characters also, and that means not brushing their badness under the carpet. (Obvious example is Cat from ASOIAF, who is almost but not quite a saint, but I love the stuff that makes her not a saint while to a lot of readers it apparently makes her simply a terrible person. Meanwhile, really much more heinous actions by, like, all male characters are celebrated as gritty and complex.)

Anyway, I think sex is another one of those tightropes - we terribly want to respect our female characters, and sex is a subject that has a lot of pitfalls, so it's a minefield...not too aggressive, not too submissive. Can't be a prude, can't be a slut, musn't be kinky, nor totally vanilla, etc, etc...(for example, I adore Amy on the Big Bang Theory, but the consensus seems to be that her - entirely verbal - sexual neediness is an offensive, sexist denigration of the character and possibly all women. I just think it's bold and awfully vulnerable.) This despite the fact that people's sex lives - women and all - are pretty weird, really, and when a show has the kind of plotting that has room for odd relationships and magic/future tech/whatever based stuff and so on, it's should probably include it's female characters in uncomfortable and compromised positions (I mean morally!) in that regard - the question is whether a show can do that without actually slipping into just being sexist or turning it into titillation or employing double standards.

Date: 30 Nov 2013 15:14 (UTC)
watervole: (Default)
From: [personal profile] watervole
I think part of the problem is that murder scenes are short and rarely show much real pain. Writers sometimes show too much of a rape scene (and possibly do this for male titillation). (Even the scene leading up to a rape is generally more than I want to watch)

Having said that, we get the secondary problem that if rape takes place off-screen, it tends to be forgotten by fans of the rapist.

But rape should sometimes be committed by popular characters - the only convinced rapist I ever knew was a very charismatic man. We need to remember that rapists look and sound just like everyone else - that you can't spot them easily. (and the follow-on from that is that we have to have follow up to know what happens to both victim and rapist afterwards)

Date: 1 Dec 2013 03:43 (UTC)
medie: Kara Zor-El and J'onn J'onzz (in unshifted form) flying (ouat - team charming)
From: [personal profile] medie
I think, for me, I want the character to show regret or the narrative to go 'holy shit this is wrong' Methos is one that really twigs it for me. I LOVE him as a character but don't much struggle with that at all since there's an element of both the show & the character acknowledging it. Both the reactions of Mac & Methos do a pretty solid job of selling both points pretty well and I'm forever amused by the fact that the show had Joe right there with some of fandom's favorite justifications (the times were different...)

I expect fandom to have those voices (as disappointing as they are) but when the narrative is just as bad, I find the fandom antics to be just that much more frustrating. I know I do with Regina. I want to see her move forward on her arc, to do the whole redemption thing, but I definitely, definitely want to see her acknowledge what happened with Graham and I don't think I ever will get that so I find fandom's attempts to mitigate the 28+ years of repeated rape absolutely grating.

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