Warning this post will contain some fairly adult and sexual themes. If that is not for you – thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you some other time. – The Brave Bothan
So I mentioned some time ago that I had worked my way through Netflix’s Luke Cage, and had been confronted by a scene about mid way through. I didn’t write about it immediately because I wanted to make sure I had all of the information on that scene before presenting my experiences with it.
So here goes – *breathes deeply*
About mid way through Season 1 of Luke Cage there is a scene where series antagonist – Cottonmouth – accuses his cousin – Miriah- of seducing her uncle as a teenager (fairly explicitly underage) crying out ‘You wanted it’ when she begins to imply that she had been raped.
This scene was so so so very challenging for me. I have been the victim of rape before and so know from personal experience the deep scars it leaves.
This assertion that ‘You wanted it’ should have been immediately and obviously repugnant and evil to me – only it wasn’t. For a shameful few seconds the presentation of the character of Mariah Dillard made me question if in fact Cottonmouth was right and justified in his assertions. It made me question if Mariah had been playing a different game the whole time.
The absolute lurch in my stomach when I caught myself pondering these things was truly momentous. I felt absolutely loathsome – more loathsome than even the character of Cottonmouth. I couldn’t believe that even knowing as I do the pain of those experiences that I had been positioned so effectively by this program and by society more broadly to tacitly accept Cottonmouth’s accusation – if only for a split second.
In the months between the moment I saw that scene and this one I’ve spent many, many hours trying to puzzle out how I feel about it all – to find a way to unlearn the societal values that allowed me to become so monstrous. I’ve read feminist theory and philosophical musings on the nature of sexual violence – I’ve talked to professional Psychologists about the societal conditioning present in that moment and yet nothing has made me feel better or less culpable for thinking that Cottonmouth could have been ‘right’ to say what he said.
This admission isn’t meant to garner sympathy – or absolve me of the guilt of having held that thought for those moments. Rather it is meant to show you readers that even those of us subscribed to liberal and socially progressive ideologies can fall prey to the unconscious bias and privilege that we are stopped in an surrounded by.
Since that moment I have spent hours and hours focusing on improving my continual awareness of the Male privilege I am afforded in my thoughts, words and actions. It is a continual struggle to not only avoid falling into the use and acceptance of this position but also to strive at every moment to ensure I am evening the playing field for all those minoirities around me and within my sphere of influence.
I struggle with the concept that such a realization came through such a revolting thought – that such a vile moment should be what it took to slap me awake from my malaise of indifference but I am incredibly thankful that it has. I cannot unsee, unhear or unthink that moment and so I cannot fall backwards into ignorance of just how susceptible we all are to those types of normalized privileged ideas.
I adore the way that adult media has the ability to teach indirect lessons and particularly that Marvel’s Netflix team are not willing to beat around the bush on issues that matter to our society. Whilst this has been a tremendously challenging and confronting experience it is not one I would forgo if I had the ability to issue a do-over.
I merely implore you dear readers – don’t let it take such a horrid shock to wake you as it did me. There are people around you every day being oppressed by ideas and actions that we consider normal – that we let ourselves believe because it is convenient to do so and society has allowed us to do so for a long period of time. Live the change we all want to see. Make sure that even inside the privacy of your own head you hold yourself accountable to the highest ideals of a progressive agenda.
Be better than me.