Why Rape Scenes In Movies Shouldn't Exist
writing by Inga Muscio (circa mid-1990s)
requiem para mongrel's fur cradle
(scanned copy of a handmade book made in the early 1990s)
by bridget irish
points of departure
One out of Eight
WOMEN IN FILM: by INGA MUSCIO
One out of eight Hollywood movies depicts a rape scene.
In the August issue of World Press magazine, Maria Kornatowska wrote
in Warsaw's Gazeta Wyborcza, "In this jubilee year for the movies,
we must realize that America actually created the movies and the movies created
America...The secret of Hollywood's influence lay in its uncanny ability to connect
its own visions with the collective unconcious... Hollywood's misogyny is so
advanced that nearly all of the top 10 stars are men. ...In [this] ... invariably
misogynistic world, women are uncomfortable and lonely."
- These movies are shown in theaters near you,
throughout our nation where these facts remain true:
- Reported rape survivors have been as old as
96 years and as young as 3 months.
- It is estimated that 85% of rapes are never
reported to the police and that less than 5% of rapists
go to jail.
- 8 million girls and 5 million boys are sexually
abused before they are 8.
- 1 out of every 3 women will be the victim of
sexual assault during her lifetime.
- 8% of women have been sexually abused by an
adult relative, acquaintance, or stranger before age 18.
Although I'd probably use the phrase "relentlessly defiled" to describe women's
general reality in American film, I appreciate this Polish woman's view of
Hollywood's role in creating the present global mythology that "controls imagination."
Her essay has nothing specifically to do with the proliferation of rape scenes
in Hollywood-spawned productions, and yet, when I think of the impact rape has
on our society and couple it with this foreign woman's argument that America
and Hollywood created each other, I can't help but wonder:
Why the fuck do women do rape scenes?
If 1 out of 3 women in America are raped and Hollywood actresses are quite
often American actresses, is it not feasible that 1 out of 3 Hollywood
actresses have been raped in "real life?"
But let's pretend Hollywood actresses are, somehow immune from sexual assault.
Everyone I know is close to at least one lady who's tangled with some sort of
violent sexual assault.
And by "close," you fucken know I mean: mom, sis, friend, lover.
So, I wonder, do ladies in Hollywood talk to each other? Do they know
other women, or were all Hollywood actresses raised in Sissyless
households by Mr. French and Uncle Bill?
At this point in history, very few people have remained unscathed by the horror
and social repercussions AIDS has to offer.
Rape's been an epidemic for a lot longer than that wretched disease.
You know someone who has lived through this bullshit act of total blasphemy.
You also know someone who has somehow thwarted a sexual attack.
Therefore, I must conclude that none of the movie people in Hollywood can
possibly be exempt from experiencing this reality.
A friend of mine worked with Jennifer Jason Leigh during a film shoot
in Seattle. He described her as "intelligent." Though she seemed like
"she might have been on something," he wasn't sure if that was just because
she was "living her film role of a junkie-type."
If that's the case, I wonder if she walked around the set of
Last Exit to Brooklyn with a metal studded 4" diameter dildo strapped
up her snatch 24 - 7 to "live the role" of a prostitute who pays vengeance
on her own broken heart by allowing every dude in the bar to fuck her in a dock yard.
Yo, Jen: Do you have any idea how much that scene hurt me? Do you know I cried
for two hours straight afterward? How do you think women who've been
gang-raped out here in "real life" felt to see you lay yourself down for all those
men to blow their wad inside your body?
Was it money? Was it a "career move?" Did it lead to "better roles?"
Was it the price you had to pay for the Oliver Stones to consider you a serious actress?
Rape scenes serve no other purpose than to confuse the shit out of men and keep
women in a perpetual state of fear, where we won't be doing nasty things like
believing in ourselves and fighting for a chance to exert our power in this world
in a good fucking way. In our masochistic society this formula translates into profits.
Scads of men say they feel disgusted with themselves during rape scenes because
somehow, it turns them on to see a woman humiliated in an erotic way.
Mild mannered men who would probably never even think of really assaulting
a woman watch rapes on film and find their cocks hard.
Here's what Eugene Chadbourne, a columnist for Maximum Rock N'Roll had
to say on the subject back in March 1990, in response to The Accused:
"After more than an hour of the film, the audience is shown the rape.
There she was, Jodie Foster, stretched out on top of a pinball machine with
a bunch of assholes holding her down. The first few shots of her breasts and the
man kissing her and slurping around were undeniably erotic... I kept wondering
why I was turned on. I explained to myself that I just knew it wasn't a real rape...
[but] if the whole center of the film, a supposedly brutal and disgusting rape,
turns on even one person in the audience just a little bit, then the film has
completely missed its mark.
"A few weeks later, I saw an Australian film entitled Shame. This was
also about rape ...the difference between these two films were many,
but one thing basic thing that the makers of Shame chose not to show
the rape, the makers of The Accused made it their climatic scene."
In real life, in case you haven't noticed, rape and erotic sex have nothing
to do with each other.
I've never seen a woman walking around wearing a t-shirt that says, "Rape me!
It'll be tons of fun!" Rack my brain as I may, I can't recall the conversation
with a woman who's been sexually assaulted where she goes, "Oh, yeah, I pretended
like I didn't like it for a while, but, you know, I actually did get kind of turned on."
And I can't, for the life of me, bring to mind anyone telling me that being raped
was an inconsequential happenstance in their day.
I have, on the other hand, seen a woman with a belt buckle that had a carving
of a big gun and said, "Nobody ever raped a .38." I distinctly remember a "conversation"
with a woman who'd recently been raped and was unable to articulate her thoughts.
Everytime she tried to talk, a torrent of tears racked through her body.
And, it is such a shattering and pivotal occurence, every woman I know who has been
sexually assaulted, for a while anyway, seems to think of her life as B.T.R. and A.T.R.,
or "Before The Rape" and "After The Rape."
Rape scenes are filmed from the p.o.v. of men. These men will not stop eroticizing
rape because it serves them no doubt, financially, but perhaps emotionally and
psychologically as well. There is no reason for them to cease this practice.
That is why I wonder why the fuck women still do rape scenes. It is completely
and utterly up to women in Hollywood to boycott scripts that contain, what will
become on film, an eroticized rape scene.
In fact, at this point in history, I'm gonna pitch my tent in the camp of filmmakers
of movies like Shame, who deal with rape without showing the rape scene.
Clip this article out [e-mail, etc] and send it to Jennifer Jason Leigh and every other
Hollywood actress you can think of, whether she's done a rape scene or not.
By choosing an occupation in which their images are projected into the minds of
millions, they have adopted an unspoken agreement with women in this country.
If they are murky over what their responsibility is to the rest of us ladies, then it's
up to us to clue them in:
America has seen enough rape.
P.S. I got the statistics on rape from Amazon: A Journal By and About Young
Women. For your subscription to Amazon, write to Hester Prynne,
323 Broadway Ave E, #110, Seattle, WA, 98102.
Support this magazine, ya hear?!
points of departure
From Alice Doesn't: Feminism, Semiotics, Cinema
by Teresa de Lauretis
"One of the most basic connections between women's experience in this culture
and women's experience in film is precisely the relationship of spectator and spectacle.
Since women are spectacles in their everyday lives, there's something about
coming to terms with film from the perspective of what it means to be an object
of spectacle and what it means to be a spectator that is really a coming to terms with
how that relationship exists both up on the screen and in everyday life." (p28)
From Gender Studies: New Directions in Feminist Criticism, ed. Judith Spector
In Roy Pascal's words autobiography "imposes a pattern on a life, constructs out of it
a coherent story." Men writers and critics traditionally thought of autobiography as
"a retrospective account of a man's whole life (or a significant part of life)
written as avowed truth and for a specific purpose by the man who lived the life."(p219)
Women, when writing autobiographies, are much more inclusive,
presenting their lives in a process that
"affirms the validity of an art that embodies the complexity, multiplicity and
continuum of life." This is accomplished by the acknowledgment that "life is not
tidy and artistically simplified, nor can one distance oneself, even momentarily."
These articles, quotes and ideas are to serve as possible points of departure to
opening a dialogue.
Your contribution is encouraged and welcome in any manner
that may be shared at this site.
Last Update: July 26, 1996
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The website version of FILM AND DESTROY (.org) was originally created
and published online in 1995 by multi-disciplinary artist Bridget Irish.
Last checked (for defunct links, etc) in 2013.
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