Few things are as exacerbating as the trotting out of the “rape culture” trope. For those not in the know, “rape culture” is the feminist theory that society sends subliminal messages to people, mostly men, that women (but never boys or men) are little more than sexual objects and can therefore be treated in whatever fashion a person, mostly men, sees fit. It is an extension of the feminist theory of “The Patriarchy,” a theory too convoluted to explain in few words. While feminists will label anything, regardless of how benign, as another example of “rape culture,” it is a first to see feminists label the absence of female rape as such.
Melissa McEwan graces the blogosphere with the complaint that the female characters on the television show Lost have not been raped:
But there’s another angle to female tokenism that I find really troubling: It frequently triggers thoughts of rape—not because any of the male characters are menacing, but because none of them are.
Although I love Lost with the fiery passion of ten thousand suns, that not a single one of the female characters on the Island has ever, in all her interactions with people who all started out as total strangers, faced even the faintest threat of sexual assault is an absurd omission. The only reference to sexual assault that I even recall on the show is when one female character refers as the “rape caves” to an area where another female character is abducted (though she is not sexually assaulted). The female characters routinely find themselves isolated with unknown men, many of whom are violent and unethical, but never is there a suggestion that the women would be in any particular physical danger separate from their male allies.
Lost is a perfect example of a show that doesn’t want to be “one of those kinds of shows,” so it just ignores the reality altogether.
And it’s a tricky sort of conundrum—it’s not like I want my favorite show to be triggering, but, on the other hand, the premise lends itself so strongly to a situation which, in real life, would be a distinct sexual assault risk for women, that ignoring the subject for five years speaks as loudly as dealing with it head-on.
It’s a weird phenomenon, the trigger by void. I’m certainly not the only woman who is prompted to thoughts of sexual assault by the absence of its threat in situations where it would exist in reality; I’ve been watching films/shows with female friends in which we openly laughed at the total lack of menace experienced by a token girl. (“Wouldn’t that be nice?!”)
In one sense, it’s just another one of a million ways in which women’s experiences don’t comprehensively manifest onscreen; in another sense, the void is so deeply dishonest that it becomes itself a nifty little bit of rape apology, by suggesting rape isn’t nearly as ubiquitous as those darn feminists would have us believe.
Generally, I am inclined to be polite and civil about such remarks, primarily because doing anything different undermines the potential for discussion. However…
McEwan, have you lost your mind?
I realize, of course, that there are plenty of people with utterly irrational fears. Fears based not on any personal experience or any one experience, but based on prejudice, bias and bigotry wrapped in ideological trappings and spewed forward in a haze of underthought and overworshipped rhetoric. One typically hears such things in the form of talking heads on TV and radio or in a Sunday opinion pieces. More frequently one finds them on college campuses and at special meetings, some of which are televised on the weekends.
However, utterly irrational does not begin to explain the nonsense found in McEwan’s post.
What she presents is the starkest kind of misandry one can find: men are uncontrollable rapists. While McEwan does not explicitly state that, it is apparent in her post. It is clear that she thinks that if any man were alone on an island with a woman, he would rape her. Add a few more men, and one of them is bound to rape her. From McEwan’s perspective, men are apparently baser than the most basic animal, not even bothering with things like courtship or being aware of the fact that they have two hands or other men with whom they could, if they so desired, engage in sexual acts with. Instead, she automatically assumes that men will rape women if in the fictional situation from Lost. That most men are not inclined to rape does not appear to have crossed her mind.
That said, what is worst is McEwan’s apparent desire for women to be raped.
She attempts to justify this… viscerally disgusting point of view with a common line of feminist rhetoric that women are in constant danger. This view is in contrast to reality where the overwhelming majority of victims of violence are male. Yet like so many feminists, McEwan’s view of reality is so skewed that, despite what one could assume to be her general position that women ought not be raped, when it does not occur in a fictional setting, she actually calls for it.
More than that, she views the absence of female rape, the actual instance in which men behave as she and so many feminists masturbatorily dream of, as completely impossible and unrealistic. So in a instance where men do not rape women, McEwan and the majority of her posters, actually reject it. Granted, the comments are festooned with insights that almost make McEwan’s post sensible. However, it is both shocking and disconcerting that in an instance where a TV show’s producers decide not to use female rape in a titillating way, feminists complain, ironic on several levels.
There is not much that can be done about people who think like this. It is highly doubtful that McEwan, who has in the past demonstrated as general apathy towards male victims, ever thought about how likely it would be that one of the many men on the show would be at risk for such an assault. It is also unlikely that she thought about how much more likely those men would be victims of violence because they are male. Even if she did, she at least that the forethought (or apathy) not to suggest that not turning Lost into an orgy of violence makes the show unrealistic (ignoring how unrealistic the show actually is).
However, it is not very likely that McEwan’s issue is Lost per se or the absence of gratuitous female rape. The underlying issue appears to be her own misandry, bigotry and sophomoric thinking. It is easier to attack a strawman problem like the creators of Lost being rape apologists for not having female characters getting raped than it is to accept that perhaps her view of men and society and the world is so severely skewed that she has lost (no pun intended) all capacity for even the most basic rational thought. What she is left with is little more than the rantings of an ideologue, one who is so obsessed with herself that she would go so far as to essentially endorse the very thing she does not want to see.