A Writer's Life For Me

Thoughts on process & career progress by comics writer BRANDON SEIFERT

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Thoughts on rape scenes in comics from a comics writer who doesn’t write rape scenes

This week, New Republic did a profile on Mark Millar, writer of comics like Kick-Ass, The Ultimates, Nemesis, The Authority, and many others. A big focus on the profile was the graphic violence Millar’s such a fan of — especially the graphic sexual violence. Here’s Millar’s perspective on the whole thing, from the article:

“The ultimate [act] that would be the taboo, to show how bad some villain is, was to have somebody being raped, you know?” he told me. “I don’t really think it matters. It’s the same as, like, a decapitation. It’s just a horrible act to show that somebody’s a bad guy.”

A lot of people in comics have been very unhappy about this, this week. Including me. I’ve gone back and forth about whether it’s something I want to talk about publicly… but in the end, I don’t think it’d be responsible for me not to talk about it.

So… TRIGGER WARNING time. I’m going to talk about rape.

My perspective on rape is heavily colored by the fact that I’m male. Not only that, I’m a broad-shouldered, 6’4” two hundred and mumble mumble pounds heterosexual male, living in a safe city in a safe country, who’s never done jail time and wasn’t molested or abused as a kid. And as such, I have never for one single moment of my entire life worried that someone might rape me. This obviously gives me a very different view of the whole thing from the women in my life, who seem to fall into two broad categories: “Women who’ve never been raped and are actively trying to keep it that way,” and “Women who’ve been raped and are actively trying to make sure it never happens to them again.”

I don’t write rape scenes in my comics. The closest I’ve gotten so far is in Spirit of the Law, in which a hitman threatens his victim with rape — but he gets stopped when one of the other hitmen threatens to shoot him for it. Even writing this scene made me really uncomfortable. And ever since then, I’ve worried even that scene crosses a line I’m not okay corssing.

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.

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  9. spnsocks reblogged this from thewriterslifeforme and added:
    Where can I buy every comic this man’s ever written