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Dear 'Outlander': Please Stop with All The Raping (NSFW)

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 29, 2014 | Comments ()

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 29, 2014 |


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Outlander left off in its midseason finale, “Both Sides Now,” approximately where it began the year: With Claire about on the brink of being raped by Black Jack Randall. I don’t know the exact number, but through eight episodes, I think that Claire is probably averaging around one R.A.P.E. (rape attempt per episode). The distinct impression that I am left with by Outlander is that, if you were an attractive woman in 18th century Scotland, you were free game to any man who wanted to sexaully assault you.

Obviously, it’s a positive that Claire can take care of herself, at least some of the time, as she demonstrated last night by gutting one rapist mid-throes, only minutes after Jamie began to give her “what she deserved.”

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There was nothing wrong with the fuck-her-brains-out give-her-what-she “deserved” line in the moment on the heels of the sweet nothings born out of Jamie’s romantic naivete, but combined with the the rape, the gutting, and the subsequent shock, it gets more difficult to compartmentalize. What is Outlander attempting to do here except to blur animalistic romantic sex and straight-up animalism?

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It’s uncomfortable, as are Jamie’s feelings of emasculation borne out of an inability to protect his wife from being raped by savage assholes.

Meanwhile, despite her knowledge of medicine, her obvious intelligence, and her ability (sometimes) to scheme her way out of difficult situations, Claire is still mostly reduced to a sexualized damsel in distress here, a woman that too many men want to assert sexual control over, be it English soldiers, Dougal MacKenzie, or Black Jack Randall, or even Jamie, who wants to claim sexual ownership of Claire over her husband. Everything about Claire is sexualized, and the dynamic is made weirder still by the fact that it is, in a way, Jamie’s inability to save her from being raped that reminds Claire of her ultimate goal here: To get back to those standing stones and to the husband with whom she’s already been passionately unfaithful.

It gets very icky.

The emotional turmoil, the push and pull of the love triangle, and the way that Outlander bounces back and forth between rape and lovemaking is a difficult at times to process. The show uses Claire as a dominating sexual partner in one scene, and as a submissive potential rape victim in another. It’s troubling, and yet strangely effective in that — unlike most instances of rape on television in which the victim is not well known to the audience — there are more stakes involved in the potential rape in Outlander because we are more invested in Claire. Ronald D. Moore inflicts the full brutality of the act upon us.

Still, I don’t know what Outlander is trying to accomplish by having a man who looks exactly like the husband that she loves hold a knife to her nipple while he attempts to rape her from behind?

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And yes, as if to reinforce the damsel in distress trope once again, there’s Jamie to the rescue, as the credits roll on this half season.



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