Can we stop projecting rape as a means of voyeuristic pleasure in films?


Few days back I was reading a novel, which to my utter dismay had a rape scene that was relayed bit by bit for four long pages. By the end, I felt sick from the gut. Similarly, several movies, old new, you pick up anything, a rape or abuse is seldom short. It is rather elaborate with all the essentials like toring off the clothes, again bit by bit, the woman shrieking, screaming, disheveled, man or even men running after the hapless creatures, and then what follows is like we say ‘ rest is history’. And every single time I saw any of these, I cringed with just one thought in my mind – couldn’t the narrative have done better without this? Is rape is anything more but a means of voyeuristic pleasure? Was this necessary at all?


I want to start with something very mundane and basic. Do we all not know what happens in a rape- adult, child, marital, same sex etc etc etc ? Do we not understand what a woman goes through when raped and mutilated? And, trust me, even men do, and that’s why they rape. If that be the case, then why even after so much hullabaloo and incessant and relentless campaigns against rape, it is allowed on the screens or pages. And moreover are hidden under the garb of being a necessity from the point of being an integral part of the story or the narrative. Bullshit.


Well, I don’t understand this at all. So, whoever understands please explain. Does pictorially reiterating something which is  grossly wrong and objectionable, heinous and barbaric as rape does any good to anyone? Does showing rape animatedly is necessary to show the aftermath or even the resurrection of the survivor? Is it important that a woman is shown half naked, limping, mangled and battered to show rape? No it is not. It is certain NOT necessary. It is absolutely not necessary to show any scene to show or depict rape. If you say positivity breeds positivity, then rape breeds rape too. Period.


I read an article where the filmmakers took pride in saying how aesthetically he showed rape, without being gory. Aesthetically, seriously? Can rape be beautified? At all? Also, if rape is shown because the story demands, and the character demands, and to create awareness and so on as so forth, then why, and why at all there are negligible films or books on other issues that the society is facing. Aren’t those important? Or it is that these are less important than rape? And mind you, I have similar objections to anything negative and gory things shown or written. If you do so, then make sense out of it, seldom that doesn’t happen at all.


Now, this brings us to the most poignant and quintessential question- why years after years and films after films, rape scene still remains an integral part of the script. The reason which I see is simple- because it titillates, tantalises and arouses the audience. It is seen as a means of sadistic and voyeuristic pleasure. It is a way of showing sex- how does it matter even if it is forced. The film thrives on such scenes with lament, wail and blood because it brings footfall. No matter how crude it sounds, but this is the truth. Ironically, in a hypocritical society like ours, the censor board has every problem to show a beautiful consensual sex. But, it has absolutely no problem in showing where there is forced sex, sometimes so horrendous that it cripples your senses and soul. You will feel uncomfortable seeing a man and woman being cozy, but absolutely no discomfort in seeing a hapless woman being lynched. Ah Jesus !!!


Let’s us talk about this first before talking about the fact that rape needs to be stopped. If you say that a film is a mirror of the society, why we can’t agree to the fact that there are several incidents that are emulated in the real life straight out of films. Don’t give a chance to those soulless corpse sitting on the theater seats who gawk and ogle at a battered women with lust. Don’t give those men a single chance to sniff and cough over a lewd remark. Don’t !! It all begins there, again the titillation, and the very act of fleshy and voluptuous pleasure. There are several other means and ways of bringing the right point to the forefront. Showing a rape scene, no matter in whichever form, subtle or gory, is just not done. It just objectifies a woman, again…and again and again !!


  1. The article reminds me of the last scene in the movie ‘ek duje ke liye’ my first memory of the word. What was chilling is that the perpetrator was no glorified villain but a normal looking neighbour. Showing Rape serves two purposes, in ladies it evokes pity and fear and in gents sympathy or titilation depending on their views about forced sex. Such intense emotions ensure audience involvement and discussions later. A short cut that keeps the word of mouth publicity alive.