Trigger warning: This is a post about sexual assault. Please practice self-care and cruise past this entry if you need to.

I’m cracking the tab on the rant can.

Rusty is a cherished friend. He is a kind soul and a wonderful poet.  He is also compassionate, feminist-minded and a very smart man.  I respect the hell out of him.

Yesterday, Rusty made this entry to his blog.  I strongly recommend that you read the post for yourself, but the nuts and bolts is this: Rusty is a conoissuer of comic books. Recently he was reading a story, wherein two minor villains share a short, throw away joke with each other about raping the female protagonist, before she dispatches them and they are never seen again.

Rusty objects to the use of rape humour in this instance. It was casual, insensitive and ultimately unecessary to the overall plot of the story.

With the exception of Whedonverse-related stories, I don’t read a lot comics. I have not read the comic in question. But I know and respect Rusty enough to trust his assesment of how it went down.   I absolutely support his decision to boycott the rest of the series. I applaud him for speaking out when sexual violence is bandied about for casual entertainment.  Because guess what?

SEXUAL VIOLENCE ISN’T ENTERTAINING!

It’s not fucking fun! It’s not funny and it’s not some macabre, but ultimately harmless plot device that authors can use as short hand to indicate “badness” in a character! It is a violent, violating reality for an overwhleming portion of people…women in particular. I understand why Rusty is pissed off and dissapointed.  I am too.

However, I am ten times pissier and ten times more dissapointed by the response to Rusty’s post. Dissapointed by those who don’t see the harm in a little rape joke. And I’m just plain old fashioned MAD that anyone would call my friend names and insult his character, because he dared to speak out against a rape joke.

I’m curious. What exactly are Rusty’s dissenters – especially those who have made this personal – what exactly are they so upset about? Rusty believes that rape and sexual violence are a despicable, prevelant reality. He objects to the subject being treated lightly. HOW IS THIS WRONG?

What is it about the presence of rape humour or casual mentions of sexual assault in a comic book that is SO important to people, that they will personal malign a stranger in it’s defense.

Reading through the comments on Rusty’s blog, I’ve seen several arguments that justify this particular use of rape because the author is using it to illustrate that the minor characters in question are bad men, who deserve their imminent pounding.

That’s not the point.

The point isn’t, “it’s okay to casually mention rape, as long as we aren’t saying rape is good.”  I can’t speak to the comic itself, so I will use another example of entertainment fiction as an example.

A few years ago I watched a show called Veronica Mars. In the first season, we learned that the eponymous Veronica had been druged and sexually assaulted at a party by an unknown assailant. This was never portrayed as a positive thing; however, it was very clear that the issue of sexaul assualt was being used as a convenient plot device to alternatively paint Veronica in a sympathic light and at various times, villify or cast suspicion on various secondary characters throughout the season. In my opinion, the writers/creators used sexual violence in a very irresponisible way.  Yes, the narrative was “rapists are bad” but it was done in a very dismissive manner. It was meant to entertain…and I’m sorry, but rape is not entertainment.

One person made the observation that Rusty wouldn’t object to the author using Nazi-ism as a villify device in his story. I can’t speak to what Rusty would do, but I would certainly object to usage if the Nazi regime were still alive, thriving and killing millions of people around the world every day.

Because that’s the rub, people. Women, children and yes, even some men are sexually assualted and abused. Every. Single. Day. By the millions. And it’s not funny.  It’s not entertaining and there’s nothing casual about it.

And for those who think that two throw away lines in a comic book have no consequences and don’t influence anyone’s thinking, come talk to me after after a sweat-stained stranger has groped you in a bar, or on a bus or in line at the store.

Come talk to me after you’ve received a sexually gratuitious phone or two or five.

Come talk to me after you’ve run home, lungs bursting after hearing a meanacing comment from a man walking behind you.

Come talk to me after you told someone what happened and they said, “It’s not a big deal”.

Come talk to me after you’ve become so accustomed to casual acts of invasion, that you no longer think it’s fucked up and resign yourself to life lived in constant vigilance.

Come talk to me after those things have happened and tell me again why your rape-based entertainment is worth defending.

Comments

  1. rpriske says:

    Said better than I can ever hope to.

    Thank you.

  2. Thanks you Nadine. You said it so well, much better than I could have. I was also personally disgusted by the content of this comic and have written to Marvel to express that.

    Here is the actual content. Female spy dressed in oh-so-hot-revealing-clothing walks up to 2 leering guards.
    Guard #1 “I’ll hold her down.”
    Guard #2 “No, no — I took firsts with the last one.”

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