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Portraying sexual assualt in the graphic novel

Inside Out has a 10 article series “about sexual assault and comics” worth checking out, even if you don’t read comics. The second and third installments are specifically about writing rape scenes. Here’s a quote from the second installment:

I previously discussed some of the more common trends in the portrayal
of sexual assault in comics and came to the conclusion that the most
problematic instances stem from a combination of ignorance and
laziness: writers who use rape as a shortcut to add depth to characters
without concerning themselves with the depth of the stories themselves.
As a result, they end up relying on tired tropes and stereotypes, and
their stories in turn perpetuate some of the most harmful and
misogynistic myths about sexual violence.

Great point. Like it or not, if we write for public consumption, we carry a responsibility to educate and inform, even if we are writing fiction. Relying on stereotypes for any character’s action or background shows lack of effort, and readers will get bored easily. Inside Out’s keen observations can be applied to any violent or deeply dramatic scene – delve into your character’s mindset and write her reaction as if she were a real person. Don’t dig up a haggard old urban myth and perpetuate damaging images in our society. Writers are the voice, the prophets, the educators of our culture. Strive for building a broader understanding to help us all move on and grow.

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