A few people have commented on this part of yesterday’s blog post about sexual assault and excuses:
And then you have the guys who say they’ve never heard such things. Really? Never? As common as sexual assault is in this country, you’ve never heard anyone boasting about a problematic encounter? Never heard anyone glorifying assault, talking about what they could do, what they could get away with? Never heard the jokes about getting women drunk in order to
get them into bed rape them?
I have no problem accepting that most people aren’t as blunt, vulgar, and obvious about such remarks as Trump was in that video clip. And I’m obviously not in any position to point out examples in people’s real lives. So instead, I figured I’d list some examples of this kind of boasting, glorification, and normalization from shows most of us are probably familiar with.
Let’s start with Avengers: Age of Ultron, wherein Tony Stark jokes, “I will be reinstituting prima nocta.” For those unfamiliar, prima nocta is the historical right of a lord to
have sex with rape any woman he chooses on her wedding night. But it’s not like Tony’s actually boasting about sexually assaulting women, right? It’s just a gross, sexist joke, isn’t it?
So how about the Big Bang Theory, where we see this “hilarious” scene of Howard using a remote control car with a video camera to look up Penny’s skirt. (This is one of many, many problematic examples from that particular show.)
Going back a little further to Friends, there’s an episode where Joey realizes his tailor has been sexually abusing him for years. Laugh track is included to make sure you know how hilarious this is. (There are plenty of other messed-up bits in this show as well, including the “Taking care of a drunk naked woman sounds like a job for Joey” line, followed by Joey starting off to do just that, only to be stopped by Chandler.)
The Harry Potter films never question the fact that Fred and George are selling what are, in essence, a magical date rape drug. When Ron is drugged by a love potion, it’s once again played for laughs, and never challenged or confronted.
How I Met Your Mother had Barney struggling with a Very Serious Problem: “How Can I Have Sex With Robin Again?” His solution? To get her drunk at Ted’s wedding. (This is one of many shows where, if you’ve watched it, then yes, you have heard the jokes about getting people drunk in order to
get past their unwillingness to have sex rape them.)
None of these are as blunt and vulgar as Trump’s quote. All of them normalize and minimize sexual harassment and/or assault. They suggest it’s normal for guys to not worry about pesky things like consent. They teach that the proper response to being sexually harassed is laughter and maybe mild, quickly-forgotten annoyance.
I can’t say what people see and hear — or don’t — in their day to day interactions with other people. Some of us are less social and outgoing than others, and hopefully we’ve mostly tried to surround ourselves with decent human beings. But as common and prevalent as this stuff is in our media and our culture, it’s hard for me to imagine never hearing any of it in real life.