Not sure that I have much to add with this post, particularly as the one I posted yesterday took about a week to formulate in my head, but I read this post about rape in fantasy today, and it’s been a little eye-opening for me. Specifically about how rape gets treated in fantasy. It’s a great read, go and read it.
I tried to add something to it from my (insanely privileged) position, but I really can’t. So I’ll do my best to summarise it and please, go read it yourself. It responds to the “realism” defence against the prevalence of rape in a lot of medieval fantasy by pointing out that the rape is gendered; men don’t get raped in these stories, even when it’s “realistic” for them to be. Sophia points this out with several examples, from George R.R. Martin’s “rape wallpaper” where there are women about, but its strange lack in the all-male, prison-like environment of the Wall, despite the fact that several of the members of the Night’s Watch are explicitly called “rapers”. This never struck me before, from my privileged position, which is thoroughly inexcusable.
It also discusses the strange knack that James Bond has had of not getting raped, until recently. Think of the amount of times that Bond has been tied to a chair and threatened by his captors. Think what the perceptions would be if it was a female agent getting tied to that chair, in similar films. The sexual threat is automatically added, but it’s not there in the case of the male captive, at least not until recently. And when it does, there’s a huge freak-out about it. And yet this happens all the time with female protagonists. Why is this never an issue?
Sophia makes some very poignant arguments that, if the “realism” argument is to hold, male rape needs to be at least considered. And then the men in the audience need to consider how they feel about that. And maybe then they might understand why the prevalence of rape in fantasy and sci-fi media is a bad thing.
And also, GO READ THAT ARTICLE! It’s much, much better than my cack-handed summary.