Recently there has been more of a hubbub than usual about Mark Millar and the various things he says. It all has to do with a piece written about him in the New Republic where the issues of his using rape as a plot device in comics so often is discussed and he basically writes it off as, "Hey, its just a way to show someone is evil by having them rape somebody." Understandably many people have expressed how they are upset at such a cavalier attitude toward sexual violence, and I knew the issue made me feel uncomfortable but I couldn't quite find the words to verbalize it. Then I saw this quote from writer Bradon Seifert and it helped me understand why I felt the way I did. Let's verbalize my thoughts.
As the above quote from Seifert discusses, many people are affected by sexual violence, be it abuse, harassment, or rape. I have no data to back it up, but I would bet many authors who think to use sexual violence as a plot device have never suffered these abuses. When I would write fiction (back in my days of thinking I'd somehow write the next great American novel) I never thought of including rape in a story, because it just didn't seem appropriate. While I myself am lucky enough to have never suffered sexual abuse, I know too many people--both men and women--who at some point in their lives had their bodies violated to think it would be okay for me to dare use rape in a story . The way they describe the horrible feelings it caused, the confusion, and otherwise misery they suffered is just something I don't plan to have in any tale I write.
I'm not saying sexual violence is off-limits in stories. If that were the case the T.V. show "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" would have run out of material before the first season ended. I just feel that too often sexual violence is treated in this simplistic way as if it is some plot device to throw in a story--"This female character needs motivation to fight crime, let's have her be a rape victim!" for example.
Other writers who want to tackle the subject of sexual violence and feel they can treat it responsibly are welcome to, I just wouldn't do it, and agree that writers such as Mark Millar use it as some sort of lazy storytelling tool instead of thinking of it as the horrible thing it is.
That's all I really had to say.