Wednesday, May 20, 2015

COMMENTARY: Sansa Stark Rape --- GET REAL

Monday morning, the internet was all abuzz over the Sansa Stark rape scene on Game of Thrones. I honestly can't remember this much buzz about a program since the cliffhanger on Dallas. 

I admit it,  I was surprised. 

Every single show starts out with a MA warning.  And we've needed it.  The rape scene was by far not the worst thing I have seen....I read the books and the "red wedding" had me shaking for quite a while after that. 

And, of course, there's far more violence I could mention....That brought me to several solid conclusions: 

ONE:  People are often immune to violence.  I've always been acutely aware of the effect of television violence.  Studies on children show that watching violent programs desensitizes children to violence and could lead to more violent behavior. Further, in adults it can also lead to a disproportionate sense of unease about society. 

Essentially, if you are what you eat, you also often are what you "consume" via the media. 

"You are the only censor if you don't like what I say you have a choice you can turn me off." 

Alice Cooper -- Lay Down and Die, Goodbye
TWO:  People don't complain effectively.  Oh, they'll complain loud and long--on the Facebook page of a relative stranger...But do they actually go to the right place?  When I suggested to a vitriolic complainant that they should perhaps write their treatise on violence in Game of Thrones to HBO or George RR Martin, the author of the novels, they were outraged. I pointed out there was no point posting it at some random person's page -- when the people making the decisions about future violence would probably not read it.

THREE:  People need to get real here. Where is the outrage about real rape cases?  I can name four serious situations that  I have come across in the news in the last day and I don't see as much discussion and outrage about them as there seems to be about a fictional character. 

Here goes: 

Rape's more prevalent than you think. A study of one college showed 18% of the freshmen girls either were raped or had an attempted rape. Just in one year:

"Affluenza" is real.  If this was a poor man, particularly a minority, he'd be in jail for much longer. You think this is going to stop Mr. Johnson from inappropriate behavior in the future? 

Samuel Curtis Johnson III, the billionaire heir to the SC Johnson fortune confessed to repeatedly raping his twelve-year-old step-daughter and what kind of sentence does he get:  four months and a a $6,000 fine.

Judges don't take child rape seriously.  The rapist of a three-year-old got a light sentence because his attack on the child "wasn't violent."

And a Baptist pastor got by with raping a mentally challenged twenty-year-old girl in Louisiana because the girl didn't know to fight him off?


So, what can you do? 

First of all, talk to the right people.  Get in touch with your elected officials and tell them you want stronger laws and sentencing against rapists and child abusers. 

Second, get in there and help.  Contact your local Rape Crisis Center or Women's Shelter and donate your items, money, or time to them. Literally, abuse victims can come in to the shelter with nothing more than the clothes on their backs -- these are real people in need of real help. If you've got outrage for these situations, spend it wisely.

Rebecca McFarland Kyle, May 2015

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