Episode 6: Correct but not Right

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Trigger Focus: Essay
Genre: Non-fiction
Output: 398 words

I’ve never been this triggered before. There’s this photographer who posted an album of artistic photos he titled “Gahasa” (Rape). The theme is someone getting raped in a romanticized and stylistic manner, plain and simple. And as a crime author who never takes rape or any crime lightly, I was not amused. There’s no way rape should be trivialized, much more glorified in media like this.
I wrote this essay in a jiffy despite my laptop slowing down on me (onore, Mozilla Firefox). Go ahead and check the album in question if you want to, then let me know your comments.
Just because it’s correct doesn’t mean it’s right.
This album gives us a first person POV of a woman as she is drugged, undressed, and subdued to follow the whims of her faceless assailant. Bonus points for highlighting the model’s alluring body in her various states of sultry surrender.
Despite its distressing theme, I anticipate that some will defend this album as an attempt for an artistic depiction of rape. To be fair, classical art is rife with depictions of the subjugation of women in past eras. These, however, were made in the context of the stories they are in, either to evoke extreme emotions towards the assailant and the victim, or to arouse admiration of the human form. (Take note that “rape” in classical art also meant an abduction, and not always sexual.)
Here’s the problem. Are we supposed to gawk at this model as her body is exposed in titillating angles? Are we supposed to get aroused by her expressions of weakness and submission? (It didn’t help this album’s cause that one of the commenters said “Papagahasa ako mamaya xD”.) Are we supposed to be appalled by the implied abuse she is experiencing? Can this depiction be justified as a part of a bigger story?
We live in an age when women are still treated as conquests, whether we admit it or not. Mass media is filled with dramatically choreographed depictions of abuse catering to the imagination of viewers. Rape is presented for shock value, again, in an attempt to evoke extreme emotions. (Then again, there are people who are turned on by rape scenes. Seriously, WTF?)
In the same light, the “macho” mentality that undermines women remains as a mindset of some males. Catcalling, slut shaming, and victim blaming reinforce this mentality, absolving an offender while eroding its victim’s rights and self-respect. It doesn’t help that some dismiss abusive behavior as a passing primal urge. This is why rape, as well as all forms of abuse, is treated as something trivial, trivial enough to be used as a casual art theme, and that is not right.
Rape is wrong, plain and simple. There’s no way you can justify rape even if it is tastefully shown in art. To call this an art form may be correct, but no matter how you look at it, there’s nothing right in the romanticization of violence against a woman.

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