Rape in Book Adaptations on Television

I’ve said a bit about how Outlander has lost the plot since its return, and so I found this article interesting. It mentions Outlander as guilty, but is actually about Game of Thrones – which I have only seen some scenes of (they were filming the latest episode in Seville when I was there last year, so I watched those parts).

It’s about how the rape of female characters is a plot device to give the male characters something to be upset about, rather than showing how the female characters deal with it.

Some quotes:

If you watch enough prestige television, you come to realise that the most traumatic thing that could possibly happen to a man is having to suffer the pain of a woman he knows getting raped. It’s not, actually, the most traumatic thing to happen to a woman, likely because it happens all the fucking time, but for a man there’s really no greater indignity. To exist as a woman on a cable drama is to understand that at some point you’re probably going to be raped by someone you know or in the presence of someone you know or as a punishment to someone you know, but it’s okay because in the end, it just gives you something to overcome and everyone knows that having something to overcome is the only way to prove that you are a strong woman.

In fairness to “Game of Thrones,” it’s not the only show on television that falls into the “how do men feel about rape” trap. Throughout its first season, the freshman Starz drama “Outlander” has repeatedly pulled focus from the actual victims of sexual assault to instead dig into how their male loved ones feel about the matter.

I think romance fiction is guilty of this sometimes too. It’s one thing to show a man dealing with this, but when it’s at the expense of the woman, then it’s gratuitous. It lessens what has happened.

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4 thoughts on “Rape in Book Adaptations on Television

  1. Agreed. In romances a rape or near rape typically shifts the focus away from the heroine who has experienced the trauma to the male’s reaction of rage and “protectiveness” of the heroine. There’s also a disturbing shift of how sexual assault is handled in romances when it’s the romantic interest who is the perpetrator.

    Sexual assault is also a device used too often in Urban Fantasy books with female leads.

    1. I feel like I should have understood all of this by now, but even with Outlander – years after reading the book – I still hadn’t really made the connection.

      Now I think about it, this idea of making a woman’s rape about the man is SO common.

      As for the male love interest committing the assault – it’s incredible how infrequently readers are willing to see it..

      If rape is dealt with properly I’m generally fine with it. However, so often it’s just a plot device to introduce drama.

      1. Same here. I’m to the point where if a rape is included in a novel and it’s only added a shallow plot device, I tend to DNF it.

  2. Pingback: The Week: 18th – 24th May | Sonya's Stuff

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