Author: Deveryle James
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Category: Social Science
“A Zoo of Lusts . . . A Harem of Fondled Hatred”: An Historical Interrogation of Sexual Violence against Women in Film explores the pernicious nature of rape in films from the silent era to the 21st century. Film is an excellent medium through which to hold this discussion, because film, like the body, as Judith Butler, et al. suggest, is fluid and indeterminate, and it is often contemplated as a site for negotiation and resistance. This book addresses three major questions: (1) why does rape persist as a recurring theme in film, (2) how is this subject manifested in film and (3) what does this manifestation say about the act of rape itself, its victims, its perpetrators and our culture? Rape is a sexual manifestation of aggression with the purpose of overpowering, humiliating, and hurting its victims. An examination of media accounts has revealed that before the evolution of feminist film theory and the dismissal of the Production Code, the rape victim in films usually fits into one “neat” set of criteria (e.g., young adult, white, single, middle class, heterosexual). When the victim’s physical makeup deviated from the traditional set of criteria (e.g., a child or a mature person of color, married, poor, homosexual), the rape was portrayed more violently. The research for this book dwells on the portrayal of the latter type of victims because their sexual violations evoke an absorbing commentary on society’s reaction toward those who do not easily fit within the status quo. What is it about the makeup of these victims that makes their violations more horrific?