The glorification of sexual assault in TV shows is a disturbing reflection of the reality of Hollywood
Stop justifying it
Screenwriters use sexual assault as a punchline for a dramatic plot. As a symbol of the male protagonist's rock bottom, initating their road to redemption and dismissing their victim as nothing more than collateral damage.
Chuck Bass attempts rape in episode one. Every vampire in Mystic Falls compels multiple women to be their personalised sex toys. And the Seven Kingdoms, well, I think you can figure that one out for yourself.
Take away the camera and what do we find? A sickening reflection
Ed Westwick, actor of Gossip Girl's Chuck Bass, was accused of the rape of Kristina Cohen and Aurelie Wynn, and honestly, I'm not surprised. By no means does an actor's role as a rapist mean to say that they are a rapist in real life as well. However, when Westwick's role as a powerful billionaire, who objectifies women, is paired with his questionable reputation in the acting business, the character and the actor don't seem too far apart. Millions of young viewers idealise Chuck Bass as New York's bad boy and in doing so, our generation is romanticising his treatment of women as well. If viewers overlook and accept the character's disgusting attitude of women, then what's to say Westwick won't justify it as well?
There are unsettling parallels between the character of Chuck Bass and the recent exposure of Harvey Weinstein. Both are powerful men with women, whether it's New York socialites or the actresses of Hollywood, in the palm of their hand.
We're taught that sexual assault is normal, acceptable and to be expected
Harvey Weinstein is only a small glimpse of the business infested with sexual predators, which lies behind the camera. But Chuck Bass, Damon Salvatore, Khal Drogo, Ramsay Bolton and many more, have been exposing the normality of sexual assault right in front of us for years. In TV shows, the assaulter is awarded with moral redemption and in Hollywood, they're handed a multi million dollar film contract and the silence of their victims.
We frequently talk about sexual assault ratings, the boundaries of consenusal and non consensual sex and the new victim of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Mark Salling, Ben Affleck, Ed Westwick and many more powerful men. And then we continue to watch the latest TV show where, there is yet another disgusting justification of sexual assault.
Just take a look at those around you
Every girl has a story of that time a guy grabbed her bum in a club, or that time her boss made an inappropriate comment on the cut of her shirt, or that time her boyfriend wouldn't take no for answer but it's okay, because he loves her. We justify our stories because the media tells us that if a good looking guy is forcing himself upon you, then one day he'll be the love of your life. If you're boss is being a bit sketchy, let it slide because otherwise, he'll fire you. And if you're a woman in business, just expect the inevitable.
That's not to say men aren't assaulted too, but from personal experience the majority seems to be female.
We live in a society where estabilshed actresses and actors have to risk their entire careers just to expose those who have manipulated them for years. A society where victims of sexual assault fear what people will think of them because their assaulters are powerful, untouchable people. A society where the term "sexual assault" has become synomyous with victim blaming, man hating and lying.
Stop being surprised and open your eyes
So when Hollywood legends start being labelled as rapists, assaulters and child pornographers, why do we act surprised when sexual assault has been glorified by them for decades?
When the camera is removed, what happens behind and in front of it is identical. The predators can no longer hide behind the characters that they created.
We expose them, just as they exposed thousands. We brand them a predators, just as they labelled us as prey. The only difference is that they chose their label. We did not.