This is an unguarded moment, so I will keep it brief. Having read a newspaper in Chicago today, I saw that a rape trial, featuring a video of the attack, had ended with an acquittal. Another of the three men accused was acquitted some time ago, and a third fled the country (always a good indication of innocence).
During a frame by frame analysis, the defense attorney successfully supported the notion of consent. There is something deeper at work here, and it frightens me.
I watched North Country tonight, in part because the Oscars are tomorrow, and in part because I wanted to see what Charlize had in her. Turns out, she had a sensitive and subtle portrayal of a woman scarred by a teenage rape that resulted in a child. Though the film's depiction of this rape, and its resulting scars, was a bit heavy handed, it made me think about the acquittal today.
I doubt there are many people who would say it is okay for three men to have sex with a drunk and occassionally unconscious underage woman--except for the acquitted man's parents, of course, who are thrilled that he has been shown to be, well, an asshole. But at least not a rapist.
Within North Country, the women aren't physically hurt, mostly, save for a quick but frightening attack upon Charlize Theron's character. Yet they are terrorized in ways that seem so egregious as to be impossible.
They aren't impossible. The legal process does little to bring these facts to light. In a world of "her word versus his," it is somehow easier for society to assume that a 16-year-old girl enjoys having sex with three men who spit upon her and write degrading things upon her naked body. It is the same world that justifies men sexually harassing women at work for daring to invade a man's world. It is the fault of the women, you see.
There is no more powerful moment in North Country than when the father of Charlize Theron's character stands up to defend her at a union meeting. He asks the people gathered there why it is that at the family picnic each year, they bring their wives and daughters without fear of their being called bitches and cunts. Yet when a woman comes to work, this behavior is suddenly okay.