In the age of #MeToo, why DO so many women enjoy watching other women get raped, abused and murdered and then call it entertainment?
Rape or rough sex is definitely a device regularly used to attract female viewers, no matter how writers might justify it
Is rough sex a guilty pleasure that few women are willing to admit they enjoy?
According to the feminist author Germaine Greer, women who complain there’s too much violence on television are hypocrites – because the writers and directors of top shows are only trying to please us, to cater to our secret fantasies.
Worse, Greer says women like watching other women being brutalised.
US series like CSI, the UK version of Law Order, the Scandi-noir thrillers The Killing and The Bridge (series 4 starts soon) and the BBC’s controversial The Fall – all successful shows extremely popular with female audiences – include scenes which routinely show women under attack – being stalked, beaten, raped or brutalised by men.
Far from being turned off, millions of females are hooked – me included.
I wonder why? Even mainstream drama now regularly features violent sex.
Costume dramas are no exception – even Downton Abbey included a rape storyline, much to the annoyance of some, who didn’t think it was appropriate in a show with posh actresses broadcast on a Sunday evening.
In the same time slot, another bodice-ripper – Poldark – featured forceful sex between the male lead and his first love.
Viewers and critics were divided about whether the one-off coupling was ‘rape’ or consensual lust. It was never explained.
In the last series of ITV’s Broadchurch, the storyline revolved round the rape of a female character who was not conventionally attractive, attacked by a hidden assailant when she was drunk at a party.
We were supposed to be grateful that this was a more ‘realistic’ portrayal of a sex crime. Every single man in the show was portrayed as a potential perpetrator.
In the BBC’s The Fall, Gillian Anderson plays an implausibly glamorous detective with an immaculate taste in silky white shirts and split skirts, obsessed with a hunky serial killer (Jamie Dornan) to an unhealthy degree
Poldark featured forceful sex between the male lead and his first love. Viewers and critics were divided about whether the one-off coupling was ‘rape’ or consensual lust. It was never explained
Rape or rough sex is definitely a device regularly used to attract female viewers, no matter how writers might justify it.
In the BBC series Doc Foster, the breakup and subsequent war between an unpleasant cheating husband and his former wife reached a tipping point when nasty Simon was blindsided by his ex.
In the middle of a furious altercation, she initiates aggressively combative sex on the family dining table – only to announce immediately afterwards it was a ‘revenge f***’ that meant nothing. Women talked about that scene for weeks – it marked a turning point in TV drama – the acknowledgement that women can secretly fancy rough sex with no strings attached.
Sex after a row, sex when you can’t stand your partner but you feel horny and want some relief. Subjects which would have been taboo a few years ago.
I am sure that after the episode was shown, thousands of dreary men got a bit of a surprise in the bedroom.
Fifty Shades of Grey soft porn has seamlessly entered mainstream entertainment.
Germaine Greer cites a US study from 2008 that found one in three women had imagined what it would be like to be raped by a man, and over half had entertained similar fantasies about enjoying some kind of forced sex.
Why are people surprised? Why should women only be interested in sex that involves willing submission or equal participation?
Surely, every woman has secret fantasies that might not sit well alongside the MeToo movement. That might involve domination.
You could argue that women are depicted being attacked and men usually play the killers in TV detective series because that is a reflection of real life crime statistics, but it doesn’t explain why so many women are happy to watch.
In the BBC’s Happy Valley, rape and serial abuse were constant themes; this time the perpetrator was gorgeous James Norton
In the last series of ITV’s Broadchurch, the storyline revolved round the rape of a female character who was not conventionally attractive, attacked by a hidden assailant when she was drunk at a party
In the opening episode of The Bridge, series 4, the eccentric female detective played by Sofia Helin is in jail, for killing her mother.
The episode opens with distressing images of a woman buried up to the neck who has been stoned to death.
Even when women take a leading role in these police dramas, they are seriously flawed. In the BBC’s The Fall, Gillian Anderson plays an implausibly glamorous detective with an immaculate taste in silky white shirts and split skirts, obsessed with a hunky serial killer (Jamie Dornan) to an unhealthy degree.
There was plenty of criticism that the series objectified women and strayed into porn.
Certainly it made uncomfortable viewing, but women watched it every week.
In the BBC’s Happy Valley, rape and serial abuse were constant themes; this time the perpetrator was gorgeous James Norton.
Crime fiction is enjoying a huge boom too – overtaking sales of literary fiction for the first time since best-seller charts started back in 1998. Up to three quarters of crime fiction is bought by women.
Grim and grisly Baltic detective fiction from writers like Jo Nesbo is extremely relaxing to read after a long day appearing on television or staring at a keyboard – I’m not ashamed about my taste.
Every night on television, an army of females get raped, beaten up and meet nasty deaths.
Go online and read a tidal wave of protests about sexual harassment in the real world. It makes me uncomfortable.
When a woman emphatically says no, and a man persists in touching her or inviting her to have sex – that constitutes harassment. But if it happens in a television drama or a novel, then it’s entertainment. These are confused times.
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