Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dissecting Bunny: The Culture War We Don't Talk About

Welcome back. Today, in our final installment of Dissecting Bunny, we're going to tackle a subject that I feel needs to be talked about. I know that there will be a lot of people who will feel differently, who may accuse me of things, or make claims about this, and about me. I know that I'm stepping into a midst of controversy here, but I'm going to do it anyway, because I need to.

Feel free to leave if you don't want to hear what I have to say. I won't hold it against you.

I talked about Bunny as a gay character, a woman, and an angry person. But the picture still isn't complete, because there is one event in her life that I need to discuss more fully, and set a few things straight with people on.

During Dead Reckoning, it is revealed that Bunny was raped by a fellow officer named John Dyson. It happened at the station, in the showers, and no one interfered on her behalf.

This is not a trope I am using, though I know many will call it that. The reason I tackled the subject of Bunny's anger, and her monster, before this was so I could make it clear that this was not made her an Angry Woman. She was that long before this happened.

It made it worse, yes, but it is not the cause.

I'm aware that rape is a subject that is often used to quickly explain why a woman is angry, or strong in fiction. I think that's a cheap way of dealing with the subject, especially given the tendency of media to sanitize it, as my editor phrased it. It gets used as a background justification, or a very special episode, but it is rarely ever really dealt with directly.

Let's be honest. This is more than a physical assault. It is one that directly affects the mental, and emotional core as well. It isn't something we talk about for a minute to explain someones behavior, so we can get on with the story. It isn't something we fix in 30 to 45 minutes.

It's something that leaves scars on the psyche, ones that never fully heal.

I do not like the way rape is used in fiction. Television and film are the worst offenders, but written fiction is often guilty of it as well. Touch on it briefly as if it explains everything then never brought up again. It's an insult.

Yes. I said it was an insult.

A while back, I was reading over some message boards talking about how Hollywood really needs to get it in gear and make a movie about a female superhero. I concur, though I've talked in the past about how unlikely that is to happen, and why.

As I was reading the message board, I came across a particular comment that made me pretty angry. The poster was saying that he hoped they didn't try to make rape part of a super-heroines background, because that was lame. Before you jump to his defense, he did go on to say how talking about rape was worn out, and we really just needed to drop it. That's the part that actually pissed me off.

If anything, we aren't talking about it enough. Which helps the rape culture we have thrive.

I got in touch with my editor, both angry and concerned. She reassured me that no, she didn't think I had overstepped with Bunny, but still, it left me thinking. Not just about Bunny, but about my own reaction to what this one person said.

Bunny was raped. It did not make her an angry woman. She was already that. It was the catalyst for her fall, however, due to the way she reacted to it. Specifically, by going to Dyson's house with the intent to kill him.

Yes, that's right. Bunny took a gun, went to his house, and was planning on shooting him. When she saw his smug expression, she set the gun aside and beat him within an inch of his life with her bare hands instead. Afterward, she became the aggressor and he the victim. She lost her job, was publicly crucified, and fell into a deep depression and alcoholism. There was no work for someone so publicly disgraced, and she ended up becoming a stripper just to pay her bills. She was already on the outs with her family, but her secret relationship with another woman was made public as well, and she was formally disowned.

I dare anyone to tell me that isn't realistic. If you think it isn't, you need to wake up and smell the reality. More than that, you may be part of the problem.

Granted, this series of events raises a number of questions. Why didn't she report Dyson? Why didn't she go to Internal Affairs? Why didn't she go to the hospital? Why didn't she tell her girlfriend, who was an assistant district attorney? Why did she go there, gun in hand, seeking revenge?

There are a lot of reason, but first among them is that denial I spoke of before. Bunny rejected what happened. The anger that had been building inside her for most of her life took charge and she did not think rationally. I feel asking someone, anyone, to think rationally after that is asking for the impossible.

She was also a cop, and while she was moved by rage, she was also acting in a way she felt was consistent with her beliefs, that the role of law enforcement is to protect society from evil. Dyson was evil, and in her rage, she saw him as a threat to be dealt with. So, she did.

Why didn't she kill him them? Why not use the gun? Really, it was his smug smile, his belief that she wanted more. Dyson was the sort of man who believes all women secretly want it. Bunny wanted to beat that out of him. The only reason she didn't kill him was because that would have been revenge, not justice.

It was only once he was lying there, half dead, that she realized what she had done. The mistake she had made in not handling it differently. It was too late by then, of course, but really, it was too late by the time he walked into the shower.

Because we, as a society, have accepted that it's always the woman's fault.

Great pains are gone to in order to paint the woman as being to blame. It was the way she dressed. It was the way she walked. It was her attitude. It wasn't his fault. She enticed him. He is the victim.

Let me be clear. He is never the victim. Because there is this thing called self control. Just because some guy doesn't use it, doesn't make him innocent. I don't care if a woman was buck naked doing cartwheels down the street. He had a choice. He chose to do something horrible.

So, part of Bunny's motivation for going after Dyson is because she knew that. She knew she was going to be dragged through the mud in an effort to paint him as the victim. She beat him down, because she knew it was likely the only chance she was going to get to hurt him back.

That doesn't make it the right course of action, but it's part of why. Coupled with being blinded by rage, instinct, and a desire to protect others, she did something she shouldn’t have done.

Now, this is the part where I have to stop and point out that, no, ladies, I am not saying do nothing. If a man attempts to sexually assault you, kill him before he can. Don't wait till after. Do it right then. Bunny's mistake was in waiting.

I would rather see a woman deal with taking a life in self defense, something you can come to terms with, than live with the scars of being raped, something you never fully heal from.

From there, it was easy for Dyson to cast himself as the victim. The media, always eager to drag the heroes they build up, down, did so with Bunny. She lost everything.

This is because we live in a society that quietly condones rape. Don't even try to argue that, either. We do.

I don't like that. I don't agree with that. I will fight that.

Bunny was raped. This is not a character build. It's not a trope. It's a real thing that millions of women experience every year. They don't get to go through the sugar coated version that Hollywood and popular fiction present, either. It isn't 'dealt with' in a Very Special Episode. It is a complete and total failure of society to teach men NOT to do it. It is something that has lasting effects. It destroys lives.

Yet, it gets called lame.

There are women in my life that I am close to. That I love, and care for deeply. I don't want to name them, as I don't have the right to tell their story, but the number of them that have raped makes me sick. I have been there with them as they try to put themselves back together. I know what it does to them, and it is not something that you can call lame.

We don't want to talk about it, though, because it's something that makes us uncomfortable. So we just act like it doesn't happen. We ignore it. We let it happen. So we don't have to feel uneasy. So we don't have to face the truth.

Well, fuck that.

There's the truth. Bunny is the truth. That's what it does to people. Right there. Look at it. See it. Be uncomfortable, but God damn it, SEE it! DO something about it! Stop acting like it's lame to even bring it up!

This isn't a God damn trope!

You know, if every body else is going to just turn a fucking blind eye, then I'll do it. I'll talk about it. I'll show it for what it really it is. Because somebody has to, damn it. Somebody HAS to.

Am I uncomfortable with it? Hell, yes. Am I going to let that stop me? Not on your life.

Writers are suppose to explore humanity through fiction. It's part of what we do. We look at the world and talk about it through metaphor and storytelling. We explore themes. It's OUR responsibility to bring this to the table and make people talk about it.

I will, too. I'll throw this down right in the middle of the damn table and I'll make people see it. Bunny will make people see it. She'll leave them no damn choice but to see it. Make them acknowledge what they don't want to look at.

Bunny has no problem with making people uncomfortable, and neither do I.

She was raped. It does not define her. It is not the reason she exists in the story. She isn't waiting for the right man to make it all better. She doesn't need a Very Special Episode to make it all go away.

She survived. She kept going. It was hard. It hurt. She felt betrayed by the very system of justice she had sworn to uphold, and a world that considered her a second class citizen. By the media that used her for ratings until they used her up. By a culture that considered her damaged goods and left her nothing but taking off her clothes for their amusement.

Because that's the real world. That's what we do now. If it makes you feel icky, then you need to feel that way.

But she survived it. She kept going, even when she didn't want to. Even when she wanted to give up and lay down and die, she kept going. Alone, she kept moving.

She shouldn't have had to. No one should have to. No one should have to endure this violation of their very sense of self.

So, go ahead. Tell me how I used a shortcut to explain Bunny being a Bad Woman. Tell me how I am playing a trope. Stand there and say I am a bad writer for not making the world a sunshine fucking place where bad shit doesn't happen to people. Go ahead and keep on ignoring the ugly reality because it makes you feel bad.

Be a fucking coward. Throw around your pitiful excuses to not change the world. That's all you are doing. I won't be a part of it.

I'm going to talk about this. Bunny is going to talk about this. The only choice you have to make now is if you want to talk about it too, or keep acting like it's lame.

Rape culture exists. It's real, pervasive, and it isn't going away. Not until we talk about it. Not until we deal with it. Not until we all stand up and say no more.

Now, who's with me?

I don't expect it to be many. I expect to be dragged through the mud, as Bunny was, for daring to bring up the subject that everyone wishes we'd just stop talking about. I'm ready for that, if it means even a handful of people listen.

There are a lot of reasons Bunny handled Dyson the way she did. They are things she isn't ready to face, about herself. The answers to those questions go back to her fear of being swallowed whole by her monster. She will face them, though, just as we all have to face the truth we ignore about the culture of rape around us. Sooner or later, life has a way of leaving us no choice but to face it.

Don't wait till then. Face it now. Stand up now. Say something now. Stop acting like this is something that can be swept under the rug. That's lame.

Bunnypocalypse: Dead Man's Hand will be out next week. I hope to see you there, joining Bunny and I as we talk about things no one wants to, deal with things that are hard, and take the journey towards a better world.

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