Addressing rape

Many of you might have watched Game of Thrones at some point or another. It is a highly popular television series that draws in large numbers of New Zealanders interested in watching a medieval drama. It has a smorgasbord of characters from the treasonous to the hero, the brave to the cowards. The plot lines are clearly designed to garner maximum attention from the public, with controversial and graphic sequences often not for the squeamish. But one in particular, involving a rape scene raises some serious ethical questions.

Rape has existed in art, whether in opera’s such as the Rape of Lucretia, the Stieg Larsson series book “The Girl who kicked the Hornets Nest” on the big and little screens for centuries. Ones interpretation of it as an act of violence might well depend on ones upbringing.

I have watched a wide range of films on television and found that whilst I could tolerate combat without too much difficulty, rape because of its highly invasive nature I tended to turn away or change the channel. Depicting a hugely degrading act that leaves mental scars on the victim long after the act, long after the perpetrator has been dealt with, along with tortuous or sadistic violence that appears to be just about how much harm can be caused, is something I think artists of all genres need to have a conversation about.

It is a concern that stems also from the development of computer games. When I was a kid at high school I had ready access thanks to my brother and mates who supplied combat, war and shoot ’em up games. I played games such as Grand Theft Auto, as well as Doom II. The latter had plenty of gore, but as those monsters and most of the weapons do not occur in real life the animated blood and guts splattering the wall did not really register as being potentially problematic.

But none of those games involved sexually violating people. None of those games involved a very deliberate act of degradation of a fellow human being in ways I am not even sure that the psychologists and the doctors, the police or the families and friends of the victim properly understand, even though in their respective capacities they all have to deal with the consequences.

I am not one for the promotion of censorship, something that I feel has gone far enough in certain respects already. However, if the use of sexual violence was restricted to R18 films, that would not be a bad thing. If they were barred from computer games, although I can imagine a howl of displeasure from gamers, again I cannot see how it would be a bad thing. The challenge might come down to books such as Stieg Larssons trilogy, where setting limits might impact who can reasonably buy books that might be quite okay for them.

I do completely support the legal status of it as a weapon of war, as large scale incidences which have occurred across the course of history, still scar the communities that it was wrought on to this day. In China and Korea, where occupying Japanese forces between 1905-1945 (Korea) and 1937-1945 (China)committed well documented atrocities involving rape, such incidents impact on how those countries view Japan, despite some of the atrocities having been committed nearly 80 years ago.


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