Rape Titillation

Rape Cases both Disturb and Excite Us

The Salacious Media
Coverage of Rape

The obscene coverage gives a distorted image of
sex crimes, which most frequently occur in private
settings, committed by someone known to the victim.

Are We Titillated
by Rape Stories?


Media coverage of sexual assaults can be divided into two
main categories, “real” rape versus “simple,” rape.

“Real” rapes, also referred to as “stranger rapes,” are the
cases dominating media coverage, although they are estimated
to comprise only 10% of all sexual assaults.

These are rapes committed by strangers, in public places,
frequently involving physical assaults or the use of weapons.

The perpetrators of these crimes are portrayed as stereotypical
criminals: poor and racial minority men, or “psychopaths.”

“Simple rapes,” or “acquaintance rapes,” approximately 90% of
all sexual assaults, are committed by acquaintances or intimates,
occur in private spaces such as the home, and are far less likely
to include physical assaults or the use of weapons.

Simple or acquaintance rapes are generally committed by “normal”
men and are common across all socioeconomic and ethnic groups.

Why Do Rape Cases Get So
Much Media Coverage?

Reports of rape in the news highlight the parts designed to repulse and titillate simultaneously.

See what happens? The narrative of rape in the news is almost pornographic in nature. Designed to arouse while it pretends to objectively present facts.

Facts alone do not sell. Facts are boring, they lack in showmanship so they must be dressed up in storytelling. And the storytelling of rape in the media is one of sexual desire gone wrong. It’s one of synchronized condemnation and raw exhibitionism.

The Infamous ‘Butter Scene’

Last Tango in Paris director Bernardo Bertolucci
admitted in a recently surfaced video that star
Maria Schneider never consented to a rape scene
he and co star Marlon Brando concocted.

In the assault scene, Brando’s character uses a
stick of butter to rape Schneider on screen.

Brando at the time was 48. Schneider was just 19.

Bertolucci added that he felt horrible “in a way”
for his treatment of Schneider.

He defended himself, explaining that he “wanted
her reaction as a girl, not as an actress.”

“I wanted her to react humiliated. I think she
hated me and Marlon because we didn’t tell her.”

Even so, Bertolucci clarified that he didn’t
“regret” how he decided to direct the scene.

Have you noticed how many TV dramas use rape just to titillate?

Is there too much of it? Is it always justified,
as programme makers will claim, to remind us
that violence against women happens (it’s
overwhelmingly women in these scenes)?

Or are writers going for a rape scene
as an easy, dramatic way to create
a crisis and a motive for the next episode?

Worse, is the attraction simply the titillation
of sex mixed with violence, generally against
an attractive female?

Even more distressing, is it because the sight
of an attractive woman, sobbing after an attack
with her clothes askew, delivers a darker satisfaction?