On the Subject of Rape

I’m departing from my usual format to talk about male writers and rape. All too often, rape is used as a plucked off-the-shelf means to instill drama and complexity into a female character’s life. Yet we have hundreds of years of male literary protagonists who experience the full range of human drama without ever getting raped. Rape is not something a protagonist does, unless of course, you’re blaming the woman. And I’d venture to say that almost anything that befalls a male protagonist can befall a female one as well, except fatherhood or prostate cancer. We are weary of witnessing the rape of TV, movie and book characters we have come to admire, respect, or maybe just recognize as representative of a person we could know. So on behalf of women readers everywhere, stop it. Just stop it. Dig deeper into your creative well. Free your women characters to break all ten of the commandments if need be. Find some other route to drama besides the violent, repulsive, diminishing, disrespectful act of rape. You’re better than that.

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