This weekend, Kick Ass-2 writer Mark Millar defended his use of rape as a plot device in his fiction. He has employed it in the comics Wanted, The Authority, Nemesis and now Kick-Ass 2. In an interview for The New Republic, Millar responded to the criticism, “The ultimate [act] that would be the taboo, to show how bad some villain is, was to have somebody being raped, you know. I don't really think it matters. It's the same as, like, a decapitation. It's just a horrible act to show that somebody's a bad guy.” That's pretty offensive... that he hasn't been decapitated. My least favorite piece of misogyny this week is Mark Millar's cavalier attitude toward using rape as a plot device.
Using sexual violence in fiction differs from decapitation because decapitation victims probably won't be going to see the movie. (If they did though, they'd really lose their heads.) Also, there's no version of decapitation that can be mistaken for love, except maybe putting your zombified ex-beau out of their misery. Ergo, decapitation doesn't get blamed on the victim or dismissed as something they were asking for.
Millar's comment is dismissive of the trauma of sexual violence. The phrase, "I don't really think it matters" is so glib it is practically wearing an ironic neckerchief. I take umbrage with the fact that he's thinking about sexual violence in terms of how it portrays the perpetrator instead of in terms of how it relates to the victim. It's unnecessary for Millar to use sexual assault as a plot device to disturb and horrify an audience. His personality can do that for him.
The way the media portrays sexual objectification has a definite effect on society. Entertainment influences our subconscious perception of ourselves and others and the more we see women as physical objects to be acted upon—especially violently—the worse our sense of self and others becomes. I'm not saying that there can never be rape used in any fictional work; I've seen it done well. I'm just saying that it shouldn't be used like a cheap trick. That's been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week! Tune in next week for me to accidentally spoil more Buffy trivia.