1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Is using rape a plot device a double standard in this sense?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ryan Elder, Dec 8, 2015.

    After some beta readers read my story, they said that I use rape as a plot device. The main character wants revenge for being raped, but they said I could have used any crime, such as one of his loved ones being killed or having all his money stolen from him that would have sufficed, but instead I use rape a plot device, to get the rest of the plot going.

    But I found this to be interesting. Say the MC is avenging a loved one being killed, or avenging having all his money stolen from him. Wouldn't those crimes also be plot devices to get the story going?

    Why is it that rape is bad for being a plot device, where as murder and theft is okay? Isn't it a double standard that that is the one crime that should not be used as a plot device, according to some? Why does that particular crime have to be more than just that, especially when murder is often a plot device and most readers, do not complain?

    What do you think? I just felt it was kind of a naive, possibly double standardish thing to say, especially when substituting murder as okay as a plot device in comparison. Unless I am wrong, and I failed to see the distinction to the rule?
     
  2. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your MC was a victim of male rape? I presume raped by another male. To me this sounds like a very reasonable story-worthy problem. It's more original than his loved ones being killed or having all his money stolen from him. And I believe that the attitudes of various western (at least) societies to male rape victims is a good basis to build drama and examine and possibly challenge the attitudes of society.

    In my opinion, I think you should follow your vision. I don't agree with your beta readers. But then I haven't read your story.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Not sure why using a plot device is being labeled a negative.

    Here's a couple thoughts. If you described the rape in detail, that is going to bother a certain reader group. For me it's torture. I don't enjoy reading torture scenes and wonder why they are so overused in books and movies. Apparently there is a market for interest in torture scenes.

    So it could just be that.

    Or, something about the way you wrote or referred to the rape wasn't well done and the beta readers are trying to say something is not right with how you wrote about the rape rather than being wrong with using the rape as a motive instead of a different crime against the character.

    Also, going by my personal preferences at the moment, I think revenge because your wife/love interest/kid was killed is an overdone trope. I think revenge for a male rape is less of a currently overused trope.
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's definitely a backlash against men getting revenge for "their" women being raped - the woman's suffering is only important in so far as it angers the man, etc. I can see people objecting to using rape as that sort of trope.

    But a man getting revenge for his own rape? That sounds fairly original to me.
     
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  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think it's fine. I can't really see a problem with a story where a person seeks vengeance for a wrong done to them. Where the rape of a woman is used as a vehicle for male character development, I think you can run into some trouble, particularly where the female character is "on stage" in her own right, instead of just part of some backstory. If you do that to an active character you're basically taking her agency and turning her from a three-dimensional character into a flat plot device that serves the purpose of developing the male character.
     
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  6. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    I guess it depends on how he gets revenge. Rape is unique. I think its a gut reaction that if someone is trying to kill you or a loved one you may hurt or kill them first to stop them. But if you walk in on someone raping someone you don't rape them back you know lol. So rape is different in that its not an eye for an eye type of crime. How is this person getting revenge?
     
  7. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    You only say they said you're using it as a plot device. Did they actually specify this as a problem? You should be asking them what the problem is. Out of context, we can't tell you if what you've written is good or bad.

    One thing to think about though, is the context of the rape and the revenge. In movie terms, it's the difference between 'The Accused' and 'I Spit On Your Grave'.
     
  8. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Ryan Elder I've got a bunch of really cynical answers to this, but the basic gist is that it sounds like you're good.
     
  9. UpstateWriter
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    UpstateWriter Member

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    Because it's not PC and considered offensive. However, it has been used in film and literature before. Personally, I never conform to what is currently considered PC.
     
  10. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    What is wrong with using rape? It is possibly one of the most vile ways of violating both a beings mind as well as body. Therefor can be used to shape them into something else, based upon the mindset of the character. Though it was a short lived thing as far as an action for a secondary character of mine, as she battered the assailant to death with the equivalent of brass knuckles. More aptly put, the guy did not have much of the front of his head left, but it made her into a feral animal for a short period of time as a result of the situation.

    So I say use whatever horrible thing you see fit. Hell I have at one point put in a torture style interrogation scene, to highlight another characters ability to perform such unspeakable acts on another being. Though to be fair that is one of her attributes to be sadistic to get some one to spill the beans. :p
     
  11. Mr. Galaxy
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    Mr. Galaxy Member

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    I think it’s a perfectly acceptable plot device. Having first hand knowledge of that experience I think it’s quite a potent motivator. You get all of the same backlash experiences that you do with many rape situations. The crippling depression, the boiling anger inside of you, the pain of looking yourself in the mirror, remembering what was done to you. It’s one of the most horrific experiences’ I’ve had in my life and I’ve spent my due time in the military on top of that. There’s a reason most rape victims suffer from severe PTSD.

    I can empathize with the MC in their lust for revenge, it’s a pretty common feeling. You want to make them hurt, you want to somehow take back your life and erase them so you can get on with what you have left.

    If I’m reading it correctly it’s also a male to male rape, which in north America is an issue that is often glossed over and sometimes outright ignored. I think this can add depth to your character. It’s “a social norm” for a woman to be raped by a man, but the moment you turn that on its head and make it male on male the whole situation seems to change.

    You may make some reader’s uncomfortable with it that’s certainly true. But it’s a horrible act and uncomfortable I think is the correct response. If we as writers didn’t write things that made people uncomfortable, I think we’d be in trouble indeed.

    Carry on!
     
  12. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Not sure why a thread that contains the words "plot device" in the title and in the body of the question isn't posted in Plot Development. Moved.
     
  13. Doctore
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    Doctore Member

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    I think that the issue 'might' be the use of rape period. Rape is and always will be a hot button topic and just as taboo to write about as incest...or more so. I think it has a lot to do with the way people were raised, their personal experiences and all that. To many people rape is..it seemed more real to them and close to home that well, it bothers them to read that. If you asked any group of people, even on this site, I bet you that you will find more people that know rape victims than people that know murder victims. AND, as you may have already seen, there are rape victims even on this form and well...no one here has been murdered...less we have ghost here. O.O? I think it's a troubling topic to some and they just don't want to read anything that might even seem a little like it is glorifying the act. It might surprise you, but there are people that think writing about rape is being over done also and well..you may let them read your story.
     
  14. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I think rape can be used in whatever way you want as long as it makes sense and isn't horrendously offensive, like portraying rape as okay. How does he take his revenge? If he's, for example, killing twenty, thirty people one rape might be too little to adequately justify that. Unless the circumstances were particularly sadistic. Maybe he rapes the person back? That would be an interesting response, poetic justice and all, not that I would advocate that in real life.
     
  15. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    For lack of a better term, rape in fiction can be very flippant. TV Tropes used to have a page called Rape is the New Dead Parents, by which they meant that "I was raped" had replaced "my parents were murdered" as the go-to means of motivating a character with as little time and authorial effort as possible. As far as emotional impact or honest acknowledgement of trauma, they might as well be taking vengeance against a bird for pooping on their head.

    The best-handled rape I've seen in a published novel was a single sentence: "He made me watch while he did things to Mom, and he made Mom watch while he did things to me." The worst-handled rape I've seen in a published novel was also a single sentence: "Well, I was raped too." The former sounds like the speaker isn't capable of talking about it in detail. The latter sounds like it's not important enough to bother discussing
     
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  16. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I agree that impactful dark concepts can be weakly represented making them less serious, and rape like all mature conc is more and more acceptable to depict, this leads to such depictions. I get the impression the author is going to depict quite thoroughly so insensitivity is unlikely. They be plenty of emotional moments on it and respect for it as an issue.
     

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