[SPOILERS FOR X FILES SEASON 10 COMIC and GAME OF THRONES SEASON 4 and AMERICAN HORROR STORY SEASON 2]
SO. After weeks of searching, I finally got my hands on issues 12, 13, and 14 of the Season 10 X Files comic as well as Year Zero. I ended up having to travel to a comic shop in another city because my Hastings and local comic shop have unanimously decided that no one wants to read the X Files. Or maybe we just have so many X Philes that I can’t seem to get my hands on a copy? Probably the former. Either way, I was pretty dang excited. I read Year Zero first and it was a pleasant surprise. Lots of fun with a strong female character and a great cliff hanger. I moved on to the Pilgrims series and then…
….Scully was raped. I mean, holy fuck. When I read the comic last night, I was shocked, but now I’m just mad. I stated in my lost blog entry that this isn’t an X Files blog, it’s just one that really, really likes the X Files. So I’m telling you now: this blog entry isn’t really about the X Files. It’s about rape and rape culture.
Mulder and Scully have long been the victims of perverse sexual fantasies involving rape, angst and torture. These scenarios are an easy way of making the characters vulnerable, but that’s fanfiction. So what the fuck is a fanfic scenario doing in my comic?! Did Leyla Harrison write it (no disrespect!)? I mean, really. First off, it is not only Scully who has been raped. It’s also Mulder because the alien entity used his body to perform the rape…………….and my brain just exploded. It’s straight out of the Astronaut’s Wife.
Here’s my beef (is that the phrase?…): there is absolutely no reason why this alien entity would have decided to have sex with Scully and the fact that it raped her is irrelevant to the plot. Aside from the first few panels, she seems completely unaffected by it. In fact, if you take those panels out, nothing else about the issue would change. Some people may argue that the scene is relevant because it’s how she realized that Mulder has been possessed. As one reviewer put it, they have “rough, unfamiliar sex” and that leads to her discovery. Well, I think that’s bullshit seeing as Mulder’s eyes are COMPLETELY BLACK. I think Scully would have noticed it as soon as she tried having a conversation with Mulder. Imagining the scene as a regular X File is easy: Mulder gets home. Scully asks him how he got back, she tells him that she was abducted, but she’s not really sure. Possessed Mulder acts weird, and Scully pulls her gun the moment he tries any funny business because he’s acting fucking weird and his eyes are BLACK.
Once again, Agent Scully has been victimized. She has been attacked, abducted, medically assaulted, kidnapped, impregnated, and ultimately forced to give up her child. Well, now we can add rape to the list. The fact that this happened isn’t necessarily a bad plot point, but it’s not even really a plot point. The writers did it for shock value, and that’s about it. They didn’t even follow up the scene with character development, emotion, or plot relevance.
I held off submitting this blog post because I thought that maybe the next issue (#15) would delve into how this has impacted Mulder and Scully’s relationship. I stopped by Hastings to today and—low and behold—they actually had it in stock! So, I read it after a nice pint of Moose Drool aaaand nope. The “incident” wasn’t mentioned a single time. Absolutely no plot relevance. Unless Scully becomes pregnant with an alien entity (which I highly doubt will happen because I don’t think the black oil generally chooses sperm as its mode of transportation), then it was totally for shock value.
This is a huge problem in pop-culture that I’ve been noticing for a while. Depicting rape as though it were just another form of violence. Rape is not like a punch in the face or a broken arm—rape has lasting psychological effects and most television shows choose to ignore that. Let’s take Game of Thrones, for example. Although I enjoy the series tremendously, I can’t deny that the episodes are riddled with rape and sexual violence. It makes sense in the context of their medieval time, but sometimes it goes too far (“fuck ‘em till they’re dead”). I’ll use an example that’s gotten a lot of recent attention: Jaimie rapes Cersei. Coster-Waldau (aka Jaimie) described the scene as a “passionate encounter” in which Cersie “reaches out and needs Jaimie, and she’s just disgusted with him. It’s a great scene”. And maybe that’s what the actors were thinking when they filmed it, but the deal with film is that we can only see what the camera sees. Up to this point, the relationship between Cercei and Jaimie had been hostile, so it was with that context that we entered this exchange. In the books, the context is much different. George Martin wrote in his blog that the show had completely changed the Cercei/Jaimie dynamic in both the scene and the episodes leading up to it. In the book, Cersei is clearly aroused by the exchange and even needs it.
A better example would be American Horror Story, but that would take an entire blog post to describe. Jesus Christ…that fuckin’ show. I can’t believe I used to watch it…season 2…why..what even…nazi’s…anne frank…sexy nun…lesbian reporter who apparently has no friends or co-workers who would ever look for her…bloooodyyyy faceeeeeee….ANYWAYS! Ha. Sorry. Back to the point!
Some people make the argument that we shouldn’t get so upset about rape because characters on GoT and other shows also get maimed and murdered in horrible ways. Here’s my argument against that:
Depictions of rape are worse than murder because when a character is murdered, people mourn and the audience engage emotionally with the character’s death. When a character is raped, on the other hand, it’s often not dealt with and forgotten by the next episode. The audience does not have an extended, emotional reaction and the rape victim continues with her or his life as though nothing ever happened. This gives off the impression that rape is just “something that happens” and the character never really comes to terms with it. If they do, we (the audience) never see it or experience it with them. Rape is not something that you just “get over”, it bears an emotional toll that should at least be addressed for more than 5 seconds. So the main point here is that murder and the death of major characters is dealt with in television, but emotions after rape are given little to no attention.
In the case of issue #14, the fact that Scully was raped is barely addressed. The word is never even uttered. It makes me wonder if the writers even realized that a foreign entity having sex with Scully constitutes as rape.
The reason I started writing this blog post is because I got a call from one of my friends telling me that she was raped one year ago. She had never told me, but she needed someone to talk to because she just ran into him in public. He came up to her, cool as ever, and asked her how she was doing. We used to hang out with this guy. He’s a kid that she went to church with, and he raped her. I had to console her and tell her and explain to her that whatever happened that night wasn’t her fault. She’s not the one who decided to commit rape. She was victim blaming and because of that guilt, shame and embarrassment, she never told me, the police or even her parents.
There is no blurred line with rape. Either someone consents or they don’t. This may sound inflammatory at first, but hear me out: A problem with our culture is that we depict rapists as monsters. It’s a problem because when a man (or woman) looks at themselves vs. a rapist, they think “That’s a rapist. They’re a monster. I’m not a monster, therefor I can’t be a rapist”. I wonder if fuck-face thinks he’s a rapist?
Here’s my final statement:
I am slowly discovering that most of the women I know have been raped. Now, my favorite female character has also been raped. I’m sick of it. I’m fed up with poorly written female plot lines and the use rape for shock value. I’m tired of clutching my keys when I walk to my car at night. I want to be able to walk down the street at 3am and not be nervous. I don’t want to have thoughts like “Wow, I’m surprised I’ve made it this far in life without being sexually assaulted”. I don’t have thoughts like that often, so I don’t want to sound maudlin, but I just hate that events surrounding my life have prompted me to think that.
If you’re interested, I’ve included a video that depicts just how much effort women put into avoiding violence vs. men.