Trigger Warning: Rape.
If you’re a lesbian, then you may know about the website Autostraddle. I found it roughly a year ago and have fervently followed it since. When I saw an article titled “Jennifer Beals Plays Character Other Than Bette Porter in New Webseries, “Lauren”” I clicked on it so quickly I might have given myself carpal tunnel.
Note: Jennifer Beals is the actress who plays Bette in the wildly popular “The L Word” on HBO. My girlfriend and myself are half in love with the character.
At the time, two videos of the three part webseries were already out, and I rapidly watched them, cried, and posted all over facebook. The mini-series is about a case of rape in the Army, and what happens when the soldier who was raped tried to report it. Unfortunately the series strikes very close to home in all aspects with how these cases are typically handled. All three videos have been released, and now that I’ve had time to ponder them and discuss with friends I’ve decided to give a review of each one.
Before that, here is the first video. I’d like to warn you that it’s very gripping and intense, but if you can please watch it:
EPISODE 1: THE REPORT
When I first watched it I cried. I’m familiar with Jennifer (Major Jo Stone) from “The L Word” but Troian (Sergeant Lauren) who played Spencer in “Pretty Little Liars” was a new face for me.
Right in the beginning when the Major says “This report is well written; precise diction, rhythmic prose… A certain, aesthetic distance… Did you ever consider a career as a writer?” Lauren responds negatively, the major continues “Well judging from this you could. You could be a writer. You could almost write fiction.”
From that point, less than a minute into the video, I knew I was hooked.
And then Sergeant Lauren at one point says “Major, is there some reason why you can’t use the word rape?”
The acting at this precise moment is wonderful. Jennifer Beals face as her character processes that sentence is amazing. It strikes a chord within me, for many of my personal experiences with rape in the military it is sugar coated, glossed over, straight up avoided. It’s not ‘rape’…. it’s and incident. An emotive word indeed.
Also noted in the video was alcohol. Lauren herself says she wasn’t drunk, and had one drink. The Major stresses that it makes everything fuzzy. Another too true point. The moment alcohol is involved with incidents like these everyone so quickly dismisses it with a wave of their hand. Alchol is not an excuse to rape.
If I were to continue is this vein I would cite the video line for line with my thoughts, but I’ll let you view it yourself and see the high charged dialogue between the two characters. But I’ll post a bullet point list with things noted in the video that I have noticed myself in my career.
- The moment a rape is called there is immediate doubt on the female
- The moment alcohol is known to be involved everyone casts doubt on the claims (they were both drunk so the raped each other, right?)
- Scrutiny. The moment a case is brought up every part of your life in under a magnifying glass. People try to pick apart all your actions (Eh, she slept around a bit with so and so and so, so honestly, isn’t this just another one?)
- Even if found guilty the male assaulter rarely gets prosecuted.
- Further harassment after a reported incident (hey, she’s easy right?)
I haven’t watched “Pretty Little Liars” but man, from Troian Bellisario’s performance in this series, I really think I will.
I’ll leave you with this quote that gave me fresh tears and terror when Jennifer Beals uttered it: “When I was your age I was sationed in Serbia. I was the only female soldier among 1500 men. Do the fucking math. You are not special!”