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  1. fancomicgirl

    fancomicgirl New Member

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    Fan-comic, question.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by fancomicgirl, Mar 21, 2015.

    TL;DR: I can't decide whether or not to include the implication that a character was raped. On the one hand it is a tricky subject, on the other hand it could be a solid way to define a couple character points.
    -
    Hi there, I’m new… I need some advice that I’m not sure how to get anywhere else.As a little background: I’m writing a fan-comic for a slightly dated cartoon, I know it sounds lame, bear with me. The show is a justice-always-wins sci-fi comedy, but the theme is crime and punishment, and the show is about adults in the plolice/paramilitary. The comic itself is already at a solid R rating. I could link you to the comic, but I’m not sure if that’s allowed here? So far I have had writing help from both my brother and my friend, but their help has been all plot-based. I have a delicate question about character that I couldn’t figure out myself with just research.

    One of the two main characters of the comic is a criminal who regularly thwarted and humiliated a rival gang. She ends up captured and tortured by them as a “break the haughty” trope. I don’t know whether or not to imply they also raped her. It seems likely, as their plan was humiliation, revenge, and nothing more, but I’m not sure about it.

    Forgive me for maybe not making sense as I describe this, I’m actually not much of a writer, I’m an artist, that’s why I’ve needed so much help in the past, but I will try to be as clear as possible.

    On the one hand:
    1. I don't plan to address it outright, I will just imply that it happened. Does this make it pointless? I don't treat it like it wasn't a big deal; she will feel like a ruined person regardless and will need counseling, but do I have to address it on its own?
    2. This is fan work for a kid's show. The show implies and almost includes things like torture, war and brutal violence, but as a kid's show it manages to keep it humorous. This is not humorous. The comic already has a solid "R" rating, but does it simply not belong?
    3. I don't want it to seem like I'm punishing her for simply being a woman. The other main character experienced a traumatic event as well and is male, and rape can happen to men, but almost 100% of rape is perpetuated against women and I can't ignore that. People may not see the connection to the man's traumatic event. I also don't want to traumatize her just so she can be on equal emotional ground with the other main character; that seems cheap.
    4. I don't want to "trigger" any of my readers. I understand that rape is extremely common and extremely complicated and a sick disguising crime. I have never been close to rape, I'm not a counselor and nobody in my family has experienced sexual violence as far as I know. I am an avid feminist and research rape as a terrifying statistic, but I don't want to overstep my bounds.
      Plus -> It seems as though I'm implying it was her fault for carrying her head too high. Nothing justifies rape, but in the context of the story it might seem like she got herself into it?
    5. She does fall in love and have sex. I only plan on her trauma being manifest in the sense that she feels like a loser with nothing to give. She doesn't feel ruined sexually and she's not scared of sex;it was an isolated incident and was not perpetuated by someone who she knew personally. Is it inappropriate not to address it in regards to her romantic/sex life?
    On the other hand:
    1. I'm not sure just being tortured will be enough to put her in the state she will be in. That sounds like I'm saying that she needs to be raped to be broken and therefore change for the better, that's not what I mean, but she is tough and has experienced severe pain in the past. Rape might be a way to solidify the fact that she is traumatized to the audience. Rape is seriously traumatizing, the type of torture she endures alone might not be as terrible psychologically for her as it might be for another person.
    2. It would be something that would make her usually uncaring brother go and kill them. It’s more complicated than revenge, he doesn’t tell anyone and he’s not her savior - she will be angry and confused when she hears that they are dead, it’s not a relief for her, but the audience will know that he actually cares to some degree, which they don’t know currently.
    3. It might be a very convincing reason to stay out of crime from this point on. The whole incident was a result of power play between gangs, and before she was captured she was having a lot of fun with it. She was good at being a criminal. Maybe it would be a reminder of the depravity of that life. (Not that rape can't happen to anyone, but in regards to the torture and the events that brought her there. Does that mke sense?)
    4. Part of the point of the comic is to not gloss over things like this.
    5. I feel like I might be missing an opportunity for definition if I don't include it.
    An extra thought: When she is found, she was close to death. I wonder if it couldn't have simply been attempted rape, and that they do not actually succeed because she's an alien, and an ability she has could make her body a bit of an uninhabitable place, but it drains power from her which might be why she is close to death later. That sounds cheesy, but it's an idea.

    I have never written a rape survivor before. I have never written a traumatized character before, this is all very new to me, and I've gone back and forth about whether or not to include it for a long time now, so I'm finally deciding just to ask for advice.

    She is the heroine, and this doesn’t define her. She gains a strong sense of self, falls in love, finds a place for herself, she saves the day and at the end she is relatively well-adjusted and gets a new lease on life, but just because it’s not a major plot point doesn’t mean it won’t affect her.

    Really any advice or thoughts are appreciated.

    I'm sorry if this is inappropriate for the forum - I looked in the FAQ and rules and couldn't find anything about discussing sexual violence.

    Thanks for your time.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2015
  2. Jack Asher

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    That's weird. Usually @GingerCoffee is here by now.
     
  3. fancomicgirl

    fancomicgirl New Member

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    Should I have introduced myself first? I know some forums require that... I haven't been on a forum in a long time. If so I apologize, I can go do that. Is there something else I should have done?
    To be completely honest I have run out of a prescription for mededate, which is why I am having trouble thinking straight in the first place (why I'm asking for help).
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2015
  4. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's your story, with your characters (more or less) so all I can offer is general impressions...

    You're right, rape does happen, and possibly this would have been a time when rape is a realistic outcome. That said, I'm seeing red flags around your 'pro-rape' point 2, that this will be a reason for her brother to do something. One of the criticisms I see of rape in popular fiction is that it's often a characterization point for male characters - want to give your hero some motivation? Have someone rape a woman he cares about! Yay!

    And then, from a more personal perspective, your 'pro-rape' point 3 - my preference, as a reader, is to see raped heroines come back twice as strong. I don't want this character to have learned a valuable life lesson because of her rape! I want her to stand up and stuff the rape down the throats of her rapists! Oh, I was raped so I should stop doing crime? That doesn't work for me. Oh, I was raped, so FUCK THEM! That works for me!

    No definitive answers, obviously, just a couple extra ideas to add to your idea-stew!
     
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  5. fancomicgirl

    fancomicgirl New Member

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    Yeah I had a feeling her brother doing something would be seen as distasteful. I may not include that reaction even if I do include the rape implication. The only defense I have for it is that it's not his story, it's hers. His actions are not so that we can see his definition, it's so that we can see what kind of family she has, and see what kind of relationship she has with her brother. The fact that he doesn't talk to her about it, that he doesn't tell her he's done anything etc. That's the main reason behind it. One of the reasons she becomes angry is because she wanted to be the one to take revenge.
    His going to do something doesn't do anything for his character, it's just an event, it's not its own plot, it's something that we'd barely see. One page at most. But it shows the audience a little more about what kind of person she has been dealing with her whole life. Does that make sense? It's about her, not him. He's not the hero, she is.

    I didn't think about the idea of her coming back stronger from rape itself... I guess because I have it tied to the torture & failure. She does come back stronger, but not just because she gains a new perspective... geez I don't want to go into my whole story to explain this, but after she comes back her gang sells her out in exchange for police leniency because they see her as broken. She gets angry, and becomes stronger to prove to herself and to them that she is strong. She has friends who support her in this. So coming back stronger is a yes. She doesn't get out of crime because she was raped, she gets out of crime because she goes to jail and then when she gets out makes a conscious decision not to get back into crime. The only thing is she's tempted to get back into it every once in a while and always has to remind herself why she's fighting for good this time around. Does that make sense? The fact that she was raped doesn't *really* have to enter into it, it was just an extra point. P:

    As far as learning a valuable lesson I don't think she learns anything from what happened to her, rape or no rape, she just feels as though she failed herself and her operation.

    I guess I'm not trying to defend my points as much as trying to define them so you know better where I'm going with it.

    Thank you very much for your feedback! I really appreciate it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2015
  6. fancomicgirl

    fancomicgirl New Member

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    I've come up with some other things to add here:

    The biggest reason I think not to include the implication is: her organization turns her over because they see her as broken, along with being angry at her for giving up information and simply being embarrassed for their group because she was captured. It's a part of a whole but it's still questionable. The issue is that she's already emotionally unstable, but physically tough. The fact that rape would traumatize her but not a standard beating makes sense. But objectively it makes it seem like I'm implying rape inevitably ruins someone & that people even in this fictional world see it that way, which is pretty gross.

    Her brother going and killing them is not openly about revenge. She gave them information and they can't allow them to use it against them. To keep their operation in-tact they had to do what was necessary. This puts them on the map as ruthless, and starts to gain them points, which makes sense, after she gets out of prison she finds out that the organization has become very large and very powerful. There are a lot of levels to the reason for their death.

    When she is in prison she attempts suicide, afterwards she bonds with someone else who was in a similar situation and she is assigned a counselor & caseworker. Both characters are people who support her and help her recover. That event is pretty locked in. I'm not sure how that would enter into it.
     

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