Tag Archives: rape culture

Some Thoughts Whilst Conducting Research at the David Foster Wallace Archive (2016) Whilst Also Coping with a Beach-balling Apple Mac (which is more than just a tad annoying)

The recent Tom Hardy vehicle, Legend, involves an interesting choice where its treatment of Frances Shea’s character is concerned. It seems that the filmmakers really needed a rape scene to be added to the film, because there can be no other possible explanation for its inclusion given that it appeared to jar with the narrative both before and after the point at which it was added, and so, slumped on the floor in her pantyhose, whilst under the influence of a Prozac-like substance to assist with her mental health problems, Frances Shea is raped by her husband, Reggie Kray. Now, we don’t actually see this happen, but we’re treated to familiar tropes that indicate that what is about to happen is a rape: the partially clothed Frances is dragged by her feet so that her legs are open whilst violent blows are issued to ensure compliance, as the camera pans away in order to save us from this terrible act – it’s such a commonplace act in mainstream movies that we don’t really need to see it.

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We could give the filmmakers the benefit of doubt by considering that at this time in the UK, and a lot of other places, that rape within marriage was not indeed a crime, as it was exempted from being so with a special “marital rape exemption” order, and that the filmmakers are making some sort of political commentary on the use of rape in film – but I suspect that that would be too generous. Rather than making a valid comment on the perverseness of the Law at this time, the filmmakers merely seem to be following type, by playing along with the dominant rape culture that likes to see a bit of rape reference in its films. Funnily enough, for anyone wishing to explore the matter further, The Guardian has a piece that not only contradicts the filmmakers’ depiction of Frances’ rape by suggesting that Frances was never subjected to physical violence at the hands of Reggie, and that a major source of antipathy between the married couple was Reggie’s attempt at raping Frances’ brother, Frank. However, attempting to rape your wife’s brother really doesn’t sit well with current rape culture, and so, presumably, the filmmakers thought they’d just stick with what they know best.

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Build-up period to David Foster Wallace archive visit #3 .01

Trying to post anything at the moment is like attempting to wade through treacle, as my Mac is constantly beach-balling for no apparent reason – the swine started playing up the very day I upgraded OS to El Capitan, and has never been the same since. I’m in the middle of upgrading its RAM, and have been through endless screen freezes, Safe Boots, Recovery Boots, and have stripped back all unnecessary apps and stuff, emptying the trash along the way.

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I should be plotting a chapter on Brief Interviews with Hideous Men for my PhD thesis, but how do you do that when all drafts are stuck inside the machine that’s not working properly? And no, I don’t have access to another computer. And yes, I do back up regularly.

So, for light relief I go into my phone to check what’s going down on Goodreads. @EmWatson’s #OurSharedShelf has chosen Caitlin Moran’s book, How to be a Woman, as its April read, and Emma Watson has posted some links. One of which is an article written by Moran in Esquire, titled: “12 Things About Being A Woman That Women Won’t Tell You: Except this woman (Caitlin Moran), who will.” In an attempt at cheering myself following the beach-balling hassle, I find reading the article in Russell Brand’s voice brings a touch of light relief to my situation – Moran’s and Brand’s laid-back-street-prose-style being quite similar in many respects.

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Moran’s point 6 of 12 is Fear, reproduced here in its entirety because it’s quite short:

We’re scared. We don’t want to mention it, because it’s kind of a bummer, chat-wise, and we’d really like to talk about stuff that makes us happy, like look at our daughters — and we can’t help but think, “Which one of us? And when?” We walk down the street at night with our keys clutched between our fingers, as a weapon. We move in packs — because it’s safer. We talk to each other for hours on the phone — to share knowledge. But we don’t want to go on about it to you, because that would be morbid. We just feel anxious. We’re scared. Given the figures, we can’t sometimes help but feel we’re just… waiting for the bad thing to come. Because that would be a realistic thing to think, and we like to be prepared. Awfully, horribly, fearfully prepared.

Note the absence of the word that this fear is based upon: rape. Rape is alluded to, but never mentioned. It is mentioned elsewhere in the article, but here it is not. This is an interesting approach in that it makes Moran’s point 6 seem unnecessarily passive in tone – “waiting for the bad thing to come.” Is that an accurate view of all women? I’ll hazard a guess and say it’s not, for there are women who take more of an aggressive stance where rape is concerned. In spite of how it is written, point 6 motions towards a feeling that “rape culture” is really and truly embedded in contemporary Western culture (for anyone who’s interested, Laurie Penny discusses rape discourse and rape culture in the New Statesman).

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Anecdotally, every woman I’ve ever met and with whom I’ve discussed the topic of rape has expressed that they have to consider their actions and/or dress on a daily basis. And when you’re doing that, and so are your friends, and so is your mother, and so on, it’s appropriate for fear to become the primary emotion, which strikes me as extremely unhealthy.


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