Thursday, December 4, 2014

about that reign rape scene

Tonight the CW aired an episode of Reign in which the queen is raped by assassins when they discover the king is not present to be assassinated.

I should preface that the show and network's most likely demographic is middle and high school aged girls.

The queen is able to escape where she runs into her mother-in-law who, being a rape victim herself (as discussed in at least one previous episode), immediately recognizes the distraught presentation and takes her to her chamber and confirms what happened. She then gives the young queen a speech about how she will bathe her, do her hair and make-up and change her clothes and she will stand up and pretend nothing happened because that will be the #1 way not to let the attackers win. That's what they do.

I believe rape is something that needs to be discussed. I also understand what Reign tried to accomplish with the, "they won't break your spirit" speech. That being said, I think the CW greatly (grossly, horribly) dropped the ball here. You just told a large audience of impressionable young girls that the best way to react to sexual assault is to pretend it didn't happen. Furthermore, the rape scene itself was done in very poor taste and merely accomplished pushing forward a weak story line. In no way is it addressing the huge impact rape has on a woman or serving as some sort of learning device. I did and continue to feel sick after witnessing that.

The previews for next week show a queen begging her husband to find the rapist and his crew to exact revenge. They show an emotionally unstable queen as she deals with her assault. It appears as though she is relying merely on her husband to destroy the men who hurt her and is in no way attempting to get outside help, thus adding to the notion that rape is something that you need to hide. The previews may be misleading but after tonight's episode I will no longer be watching to see how it plays out.

You should be ashamed of yourselves for not realizing the real message you were sending your audience, CW.


  1. just because mary reacted in a certain way does not mean the cw is promoting that behaviour
    mary reacted a certain way because of her character
    what people don't understand is characters are fictional and aren't to be looked at as role models or whatever

    i am not defending the scene but at the same time the show is fictional show based based in medival times
    there were no counselors at that time
    no police
    it was a time where women didn't have much power and mostly had it through men so the way mary reacted was simply because of that

    rape is disgusting in any situation but let's not forget it has also been shown in Game Of Thrones, Bates Motel and even 90210 - a show that had a viewership of mainly teens

    you're views are agreeable however i think you should think about this

    1. The biggest thing that I think you (and the CW) are failing to consider is the show's demographic. They are attempting to appeal to the 18-34 age group but I'm pretty confident that there are probably a much larger number of middle and high school aged girls who watch this show. I understand characters are fictional. I'm not so sure a 13- or 14-year-old is able to fully make that realization. Yes, the show is fictional, but it is also (loosely) based on the actual documented/historical life of Mary of Scot. Mary's reaction of shock, shame, and devastation are perfectly normal reactions to a rape - that's not my issue. The fact is, rape is a very unreported crime (at least 60% of rapes go unreported, per RAINN) since shame is a common reaction to rape. I really wish shame wasn't a common reaction since the victim did absolutely nothing to be ashamed of - they did not make the choice to be or contribute to the act of their rape - but then when the show decided the best approach was to basically pretend nothing happened to everyone except Catherine and Francis they really lost me. Young girls are watching this and were basically told that they should not report their assaults--that if they do, they are somehow failing someone by not being 'strong enough'. I think it's pretty obvious how messed up that is. I also don't think the slow motion close-ups were the best way to depict a rape. I reallllly hope the writers consulted with experts in sexual assault beforehand because my personal opinion is that they did rape victims a disservice with that scene.

      As for your comment about the other shows - I have never seen any of them, hence why I didn't comment on those. There are other shows that handle sexual assaults more... tactfully? (as tactful as a sexual assault scene can be) that really focus on a lot of the injustices that surround sexual assault without such a focus on showing the act itself. I can only speak for what I witnessed last night because I don't watch GoT, Bates Motel or 90210.