"Rocky Horror promotes rape culture" Discuss
Ha. Oh anon.
I think when you take a gentle look at the world around us right now - full of people being accused left right and centre of monstrous things whilst others are up in arms over the skewed concept that ‘before long we won’t be able to even harmlessly sexually harass anyone anymore!’ (coz that’s what your comments sound like, fam) - Rocky Horror is the furthest away thing on the planet when it comes to ‘promoting rape culture.’
The very world we live in promotes rape culture. It always has. Hopefully it won’t always will. If anything Rocky Horror promotes playfulness, sexuality and consensual pleasure in a world full of sexual violence and aggression. It actually showcases the importance of boundaries and limits whilst pushing them and breaking them down at the same time. Sure, Frank isn’t exactly an angel. There’s the whole murder and deception thing - but those character flaws aside - sex seems to be the one thing he’s willing to play by the rules during! Ha…
Okay so. Let’s break things down.
Harassment is never a good thing. There is not a single scenario where harassment is ever okay. Because it’s harassment. Rape is never a good thing. There is not a single scenario imaginable where rape is a good thing. Because it’s rape.
Let’s put things into the context of Tim Curry characters and fan comments. So.
In Titanic - Tim’s character rapes a young woman. There is no two ways about it. It is rape the character commits. The young woman does not welcome the character’s advances, he’s violent and hateful throughout the act and the character is doing what he is doing because he feels he is in a position of power over the young woman in question and he enjoys the power trip the act provides. When fans come along and go ‘omg TC can rape me any time he likes!’ - it makes me want to peel my own face off. Firstly - the women and men who makes comments like this do not mean what they say or indeed they are not intelligent enough to weigh up the implications of their words. What they mean to say is - ‘I personally find TC to be a very attractive man and if he were to get in my shower and have sex with me I’d most likely be well up for it and I’d thus enjoy the sexual act taking place’ - they DO NOT want TC to rape them - no matter what they think - because for a start - the very nature of rape is the fact you do NOT want it to happen. It’s as simple as that. No means no. If you were up for it - it wouldn’t be rape, it’d be sex. Rape is not sex - it’s an act of violence and oh hey news flash - you can still be raped by someone you think is very attractive - but I’m telling you now, you DO NOT want that to happen. Because it would be an act of violence and non consenting and it would be horrible - no matter what. Sure - you can ‘play act’ and pretend that’s what’s happening - but that would be consensual just by the very nature of it. It’s a VERY different thing.
Frankie and those bedroom scenes. Sure - when he originally goes into Brad and Janet’s rooms - he is doing so in a dishonest and predatory manner. Both Brad and Janet only respond to his original actions because they think it’s their lover and then it turns out it’s Frank being an asshole and they’re mortified. BUT. Let’s be clear - he doesn’t keep up the charade of pretending to be another person thus lulling them into a sort of false consent - if he were to have intercourse with them whilst pretending to be someone else - that would be rape - because that isn’t consensual. BUT - he fesses up to both of them that it’s him and when he does so - they both go ‘omg no get off’ and sure - the lines in this particular instance start to blur because ‘no should never mean convince me’ - but equally - they both clearly found Frank very attractive throughout the night and thus when he turns on the charm and seduces them - they still very much say yes and ‘give themselves over to pleasure’ - it cannot be argued for one second that either of them puts up a fight much past ‘hey buddy! not a chance!!!’ It would be very different if you saw them repeatedly say no and he kept going anyways - but the fact of the matter is - they both consent quite happily and in my opinion it becomes clear they were trying to get him to leave because they didn’t want to cheat on their partner ‘Promise you won’t tell?’ etc - it was never really about not wanting to fuck him. There’s nothing to suggest they weren’t absolutely fucking thrilled when it turned out it was him in their bed.
I mean yes - don’t get me wrong - I can see why on first glance people go ‘yeah no - that’s fucked up and he rapes them???’ - but he doesn’t. He seduces them. He goes about it in a really fucked up way - but that’s the nature of the character. Sure - the idea of someone sneaking into your bed who you do not want to be in your bed is fucking horrifying - the idea of someone not leaving your bed despite you asking them to and being very firm about your feelings - is horrifying. But equally - whilst I wouldn’t say it’s the best seduction technique - there are instances when someone you’re very happy to get up to no good with does the same thing and it’s hot af. Ya know? That’s what it all comes down to - what people are happy with and what people consent to. Brad and Janet both consent. They give themselves to him and both seem very, very happy about it towards the end of the scene.
Is it promoting rape culture? No. Is it promoting the idea that people should wander into other people’s beds without an invite and try to seduce them? Possibly. But if you try that seduction technique and your Brad or Janet of choice doesn’t consent and you chose to not get up and leave - that’s not what Rocky Horror is showing at all. So that one’s on you. That was your decision to make.
Equally - it’s a piece of entertainment. Entertainment is designed to titivate and often does not reflect reality - let’s be honest - people can play video games where they go around shooting people or watch films where the main character kills everyone with a chainsaw and wears their skin - but no one would particularly say ‘Oh the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is promoting murder and human flesh wearing!!!!’ - because it’s simply showing you a story - a story of a bad thing you would not want to happen to you - it doesn’t mean it’s promoting it - even if the guy is having a really great time doing it - because most people have a moral compass and it’s set in stone that ‘murdering people and wearing their skin is bad, yo’. Equally Tim’s scene in Titanic isn’t ‘promoting rape’ - it’s just showing you a snapshot of bad shit that happens sometimes in the world.
If you mean is Rocky Horror ‘promoting rape’ because Frank gets a positive reaction in the end and thus an audience member might go ‘oh well Brad and Janet liked it! I should go have a go too and I’m sure the person I try it on will like it too!!!!!’ - well yeah, maybe they will - but chances are they also might not - and thus it’s up to you what happens next - if you decide to rape them - that’s not something RHPS told you to do. You did that off your own back, love.
If you’re suggesting the lines blur even more during the floorshow where they all seem to be under Frank’s spell and they are having a right nice time feeling each other up in a pool but only because they can’t make their own decisions as they’re somehow being controlled - then I don’t know if that’s even particularly a plot point - and if it is - I’ll say it again - it’s not promoting anything - it’s just showing you that Frank is an asshole. It’s also just a silly bit of fluff. Rocky Horror is ultimately a big fat pile of glorious nonsense. It’s not to be taken seriously.
The 1970s was the decade of ‘everyone is secretly gagging for a fuck and just pretending they’re not’ - you could watch a tv show at 7pm on a Saturday night where you’d see rape culture being promoted 100% more than during Rocky Horror. I think it’s actually insulting to suggest a bi-sexual trans character is almost ‘promoting rape culture’ by default as they’re somehow ‘not normal’ and thus how could anyone possibly want to have sex with them? But Benny Hill could chase women around in their underwear whilst they screamed and ran away before he caught them and pinned them up against a tree and that was okay because ‘everyone knows women are just saying no when they really mean yes’ and who’d want to say no to an ugly tubby old dude when he’s so famous and cheeky???
Both Janet and Brad gave Frank the go ahead. They both said yes in words and action which is a lot more than can be said for some pieces of ‘light entertainment’ at the time and that shouldn’t be something we let people take away from such an important piece of film history. I’m not saying it’s a perfect portrait of consenting adults having a good time - but it deserves more credit than people give it on first glance when it comes to those themes.
Anyways. Yeah. That.