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Thursday, October 31, 2013 

Brandon Seifert explains why he avoids writing rape scenes in his comics

Seifert, the writer of comics like Witch Doctor, explained last August why he doesn't like to write rape scenes in the comics he's published, writing as a response to the New Republic article about Mark Millar:
Because the thing is: Rape is violence. But that’s not all it is. It’s also defilement — having your body violated and desecrated. And it’s an interruption over your agency, your control over your body and your life. On top of all that, rape victims often end up feeling that they were complicit in their own attack (“I should’ve told him no again,” or “I should’ve tried to fight him off harder,” or “I hate myself because I just froze up while it was happening.”). It’s awful, it’s scarring, and for a lot of people it sticks with them very vividly, for a very long time. And for a lot of people, those memories are very easily triggered… by, for instance, seeing a rape scene on TV or reading one in a comic.

Rape is also ridiculously, sickeningly common. One in six women in America reports having someone at least try to rape her. But honestly, in my experience? I feel like it’s more like one in four women. Or one in three. There have been times in my life when it seemed like every women in my life had been roofied at a bar, or followed into a bathroom by a guy at a party, or got forced to do things she didn’t want to do by a boyfriend, or was date raped, or was molested by a family friend, or… Or… Or…

And the very least I can do? As a friend, and as a responsible adult? Is not to write comics that cause people I care about to relive some of the most horrific events of their lives.
Most importantly, if anyone must write rape scenes into comic books, they shouldn't depict them trivially, because if there's something more offensive than rape itself, it's acting as though it's something totally unimportant. That's something Brad Meltzer should have thought about before he even accepted the very assignment of writing Identity Crisis, and not hinting he's more interested in a paycheck. He and the rest of DC's staff - including DiDio, Rags Morales and Jann Jones - should have considered the pain they could cause any rape victim who stumbled over their screed. For example, how would the victims of Ariel Castro feel if they learned about Meltzer and Millar's abominations? The mainstream and independent writers/editors/artists/publishers who put out all that garbage that slights victims of sexual assault should be ashamed of themselves, and we've still yet to hear an apology from them, along with an admittance they're capable of making mistakes, moral or otherwise.

Seifert certainly deserves some credit for his belief that it's in poor taste to upset victims of rape. Popcorn entertainment is no place for that kind of violence if what people are seeking is decent escapism with a bright side. But again, it's much worse to trivialize the subject, and if the publishers were to claim that focus on how the victims feel "has been done many times before", that's no defense whatsoever for coughing out a story where it's claimed the heroes were wrong to punish the criminal while blotting his victim out of the picture. Rape is a serious offense, plain and simple, and when a woman is violated, her feelings must take priority and the offender should be punished for his crime.

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Indeed. If done right, I wouldn't be opposed to it, yet writing it is so gut-wretching and now I feel "don't write it unless you know what the hell you're doing." And most writers think, "oh, it's edgy, I better use it, as edgy art is better."

(I say that, as my fanfiction had me write or reference a Law & Order character's backstory who was raped. I was respectful, as I love the character, but it was a real challenge to find the right tone.)

And I finally, after 10 years, starting to read Identity Crisis. Yeah, it's that bad, especially because of what happened to Sue and Meltzer's totally half-assed "Jean Loring did it" conclusion. I did a facepalm when I read that part.

However, as a slight consolation, for all the crap we give New 52 (and deservedly), doesn't it undo at least Identity Crisis' rape part of Sue, I think? I'll let the canon experts sort that out.

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