"Ripped from the headlines…"
Many of you know that one of my favorite TV shows is “Law and Order: SVU.” They specialize in shows that are almost direct lifts from current headlines and issues. For example, when the Fifty Shades travesty was at its peak, they had an episode about a writer of a kinky sex book who got raped. Her book was called Twenty-Five Acts.
Last week in “Spousal Privilege,” they took on the Ray Rice spousal abuse case. For those who are unfamiliar, Rice is a football player who was caught on video earlier this year dragging his unconscious then-fiancee out of an elevator. He had knocked her unconscious with his fist.
So on SVU, they did something similar, showing the big strong menacing football player dragging his girlfriend out of a building and into a parking lot to a waiting car. Later, security footage was dug up and showed what had happened. They were arguing in a stairwell, and he punched her in the face, knocking her down.
But before that punch? They were stumbling up the stairs, with her ahead of him, and he gave her a massive, full-arm slap on the bottom. She then turned and screamed at him, and that led to the punch.
The footage was uncovered in bits. At first, the punch was not shown, just the arguing and the slap. And as the SVU detectives reviewed it, Benson pointed to the slap and said, “There — sexual abuse.”
It was a jolt. Part of me had the knee-jerk reaction I always get when I see a bottom slap, but another part was repulsed and angry. Because I knew this was meant to look abusive, and it reminded me of what the average Joe and Jane Vanilla think of what we do.
Granted, what we do is consensual, and what was shown on the screen was violent and non-consensual. But I really hate that a smack on the backside was placed in the same context as a punch in the face. This sort of portrayal doesn’t help us in the least. That slap was shown over and over during the episode, nearly always accompanied by the face punch. It was meant to be seen as equally demeaning, equally harsh.
The spanko in me yelled “Nooooooooooo! It’s not sexual abuse when we do it!”
If I’d had my druthers, that scene would have been rewritten. Instead of whacking her on the behind, he would have pushed her, and she would have stumbled. Then righted herself, turned and yelled at him. Leave spanking out of it, dammit! You want to portray violence? You have (sadly) myriad ways to do so. Don’t add fuel to the existing fire that spankos are abusers.
I know I’m preaching to the choir here, and I’m not going to change mainstream television. But that scene really disturbed me, and I figured what better place to talk about it than here. Any other fans of the show? Normally, I love it, but there does seem to be a pattern where people who engage in kink are punished. The aforementioned rape of the kinky author. In a recent episode, a couple were having very noisy sex while the man was handcuffed to the bed. Unfortunately, they just happened to live next door to a psycho, who then came over and killed them both because they wouldn’t quiet down when he pounded on the wall. In yet another episode, an asphyxiation scene resulted in death.
Come on, writers. Get with the program. Don’t lump spanking and other kinky activities in with spousal/sexual abuse, please. We are struggling to be understood and accepted, and that doesn’t help in the least!