The use of rape in narrative.

In response to a play I recently saw in New York:

Dear playwrights: Please repeat after me. One in three women will experience some form of sexual assault in her lifetime.

Are there three women in your audience?

When your only female character exists to be bartered and abused, that is lazy writing. When you raise the stakes by threatening a woman with rape, that is lazy writing. When you demonstrate the “seriousness” of a situation by describing a brutal rape, that is lazy writing. When you inject emotion into a flagging scene by making the man throw the woman against the wall, that is lazy writing. Not only is it lazy writing, but when rape is used lightly and cheaply as a convenient narrative device, it hurts people.

Try harder.


7 Comments on “The use of rape in narrative.”

  1. marcosfaria says:

    Considering that there are much more male charachters than female, and that female charachters are so often raped (or threatened), it says a lot when you realise how fewer male charachters are victims of rape, castration or any other form of sexual violence.

  2. Totally. It seems to me that rape of males is only used to demonstrate “extreme” situations. Rape of women just indicates a bad and/or normal situation.

  3. Unfortunately, the prison rape of men is often used to evoke laughter. See “dropping the soap,” etc. Unreal, but true.

  4. Lorma says:

    It’s probably a god thing that you didn’t see The Overwhelming.
    I don’t know that I agree with you, but I also don’t know that I don’t.
    Maybe the reason rape is so often used as a device is because of the statistics you reference.
    I wanna know what play this is in reference to.

  5. I read The Overwhelming and thought it was amazing. My issue is not with mindful use of rape in narrative, but un-mindful use.


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