Content Warning: I don’t usually bother with content warnings or trigger warnings for my content but this time I’m going to make an exception. This post contains mentions of rape, assault, violence and other unpleasant things which some people may find difficult, and I totally understand if you decide to click away now without reading on.
PS the picture is not mine, it came from Google Images but if you’re not familiar with the whole consent is like a cup of tea story I recommend checking it out!
I can’t help but wonder how many of you have read the title of this post and have already made up your mind that I am one of the world’s most terrible humans.
Maybe I am, but please hear me out on this one.
Many will be aware that I identify within the asexual community, and a few will know that I often find myself incredibly frustrated at the attitudes of certain individuals within the community. In brief, there are some particularly sensitive souls who would manage to find offence in you breathing too deeply in their company and there is a select group who think that being asexual makes them better than other people. I like to think that I don’t fall into either of these categories and instead manage to live my life like so many others in the community – in harmony with other identities.
It was one day in one of these Facebook groups where asexuals come together to talk about all things asexy that somebody (who had riled me with her attitude before) told everyone that she had just been to see a new movie (I believe it was Red Sparrow) and that, basically, we must boycott the film.
Why must we as asexuals not go and watch this film under any circumstances?
This film, according to the person in question as I have not yet seen the film myself (because I’m busy not because I’m boycotting it), contains scenes of violent rape. People were applauding her for sharing this information, sympathising that she had to go through this (watching the film) and praising her for her bravery in watching the film. Then there was me, who called her out for trying to tell people what to do when she knew nothing about our interests or tolerances. I for one was interested in this film and such content – regardless of how disturbing – wasn’t putting me off seeing it. People then jumped in in support of my comment and that part of the argument was concluded.
There was a second part to the comments though, where people said that it was unnecessary for media to force such content on its viewers. They said that putting rape on TV or in a film should be made illegal, that nobody wanted to see it.
This is where my defences kicked into overdrive.
Of course I don’t want to watch rape. Very few people do and those who fetishize rape are probably not sharing that with society. I do however think that rape and sexual assault should be aired in movies and television shows because it is real life. Surviving sexual assault is very real for so many people across the world, who often don’t know how to speak out. There is such a fear and a stigma around speaking up about sexual assault – from both men and women – even today in 2018.
I feel that in a lot of ways media coverage such as movies and TV show plot lines have the power to almost normalise taboo topics like this – not normalise it happening, but to normalise the effects that it has on a victim. To let people see that it is okay to feel violated, vulnerable and overwhelmed. To help people realise that it was not their fault. To let the naysayers see that it is violent and traumatising. To not have to live through such horror is a blessing and I think more people need to be made aware of that, and those who have experienced rape or sexual assault need to be allowed to realise how serious what they’ve experienced is.
We need to not be allowed to forget that this is something which happens to so many until it stops happening.
Just because we don’t speak about it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be speaking about it. Would people be so likely to rape if they thought they wouldn’t get away with it?
Needless to say that this escapade apparently got me booted out of the group, but I’m not sure I actually did anything out of line. What do you think, should movies depict rape?