As I was doing research for my paper (discussing the portrayals of women on police procedurals), I came across this quote:
“42% of [rape] storylines suggested that the rape victim wanted to be raped, 38% of the storylines suggested that the victim lied about the assault, and 46% of the storylines suggested that the victim had ‘asked for it’ in the way she dressed or acted.” (Kahlor & Morrison, 2007, p. 731)
This…… makes me so …. I don’t know…… I guess the word is angry, but I also feel disappointment. Women, who are victims, and know what it is like to be victimized, they don’t deserve to see what the media believes happened to them in a way that is completely untrue.
I do believe that, if shown as accurately and truthfully as possible, rape storylines could be beneficial to victims. One example that I can think of off the top of my head is the storyline involving Doctor Charlotte King in the show Private Practice. What made this portrayal so different is that it was realistic in terms of the aftermath of the rape. The show depicted how Charlotte was withdrawn, how she was afraid of her own fiancé, how she was ashamed about what happened to her, basically all of the mental effects rape has on a person’s psyche. In many cases, a character is raped, and then in the next episode, it was like nothing ever happened. In Private Practice, Charlotte took almost the entire season to get back to almost how she used to be before the rape. I say almost because, as with any trauma, there really is no “back to normal.”
I myself have never been a victim of rape, but a friend of mine has. I showed her the quote and asked her opinion. This is what she said:
“Disgusting. I was raped. No one asks for it. It doesn’t matter what a girl wears rape is NON CONSENSUAL. No man has a right to take that from a woman. No means no. So many people accused me of lying and that makes my blood boil. To this day people still say it. I agree a rape storyline can be useful and raise awareness, helping some girls who maybe didn’t even know they were raped. The media portrayal of rape is a travesty and makes victims in the real world look the same as the characters, because let’s face it: that’s where society learns their behavior nowadays isn’t it? Only a select few people would ever lie about that, and there is no right for someone to say that of another. I was told I deserved it, that it was a punishment of God for my bisexuality, that I should savor it because it was the only sex I’d ever get, and the ever original, who would rape you?”
I cried. How could our society, which prides itself on its justice system, allow this to happen? How could it still be allowed in the media, when we know that in a lot of cases, these types of portrayals do more harm than good?
Kahlor, L. & Morrison, D. (2007). Television viewing and rape myth acceptance. Sex Roles, 56, 729-739. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.