Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Is there ever a "good rape scene" in a movie?

A conversation I had a few days ago and this article on tumblr has me thinking again about portrayals of rape, assault, and rough sex in films. As a refresher, I addressed this topic when reviewing the film Unfaithful in a previous post. The article on tumblr discusses the author's disappointment with the rape scene in the American release of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. To be honest, I'm confused about this author's difference between a good and bad rape scene because is there is ever a "good rape scene" in a movie? I understand what she's trying to get at here. Rape is always bad, but the manner in which a director displays or handles the rape in the film gains different reactions from viewers. For example, some rape scenes in films can be confused with rough sex. Rape should get a strong negative reaction from the audience while rough sex should arouse the audience. 

Yet, these lines are so blurry, and I think this ambiguity has contributed to a LOT of debate about what constitutes rape. Portrayals of rape in films normalize violence against women, and more people need to be asking these directors: Is this rape scene essential to this film? Does it contribute to the character's transformation in the film?

I'm torn here because I think rape should be discussed in films, and there may be something beneficial in bringing a realistic portrayal of rape to a wide audience. But, I don't think directors in Hollywood have a woman's dignity and respect in mind when filming these scenes. No, I have not seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but the posters are oversexualized. Rooney Mara isn't wearing a shirt in this image:

Lisabeth is a strong female character, yet in this image she is reduced to a body to look at.  Her rape is an important part of the story, and I don't think it should be left out of the film, but there needs to be more caution when telling rape stories in films. Rape is a serious topic that should be handled with seriousness.

Thank for clarifying this, Ryan!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Why does sex always sell?

As I've been hunting down the best post-holiday sales, I've encountered the same old slogan: sex sells. For example, there's a line of makeup called NARS Orgasm. There's a set of blushes that will apparently give a woman the "effect of an ultimate super, uh hum, afterglow." There is something about naming a blush "G spot" and "super orgasm" that makes me uncomfortable. Why is that the only way to sell any product is to oversexualize it? I see a clear link between wearing this makeup and looking sexy for a man. It also bothers me that the point of this makeup is to make a woman look like she has just had an orgasm as if a woman's appearance is constantly on display for others. 

Yet, I can see the empowering message in this makeup. When I get dressed up or wear makeup, I like to look nice for myself. I just wonder why makeup must be associated with transforming one's physical body and therefore, inner feelings about herself. Is there a way for makeup to have a fun and useful function without the instant gratification that it makes a woman more "beautiful" than another, and therefore, more attractive to a romantic interest?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Beware: Women with Tools?!

Today while I was babysitting, I took the girls to pick out Christmas gifts for their family members, and it was shocking to see how gender-oriented the presents were (well, I guess it wasn't that shocking... Maybe just disappointing). There was a tape measure labeled "Dad Tape Measure: Dad at Work." Because apparently only men measure things. Wait, what?!