When sexual violence appears on screen, what problems do we have with these portrayals? And have these issues with representation changed in the wake of #MeToo?
From A Streetcar Named Desire to Saturday Night Fever, The Evil Dead to Game of Thrones, rape has long been a staple ‘plot point’ in film and TV narratives. But given how frequently sexual violence is experienced by real-life individuals, don’t these portrayals deserve to be more nuanced and realistic in their depiction of victims and survivors?
More recent TV series like Unbelievable, I May Destroy You (pictured to right: Michaela Coel, series creator and actor), and even the long-running Law and Order: Special Victims Unit have started to break new ground in exploring the complexity around consent and sexual coercion. But what does the future hold?
Author and activist Winnie M. Li AB ’00 leads this open discussion on the ethics of representing sexual violence on-screen.
Winnie M. Li AB '00
Winnie M. Li is an author and activist. She worked as a film producer in London before her career was disrupted, at the age of twenty-nine, by a stranger rape. This prompted a long period of recovery, followed by a change of career. Ultimately, Winnie decided to focus on addressing the issue of sexual assault through the media, the arts, and academia.
Her debut novel, DARK CHAPTER, is winner of The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize, nominated for an Edgar Award, and has been translated into ten languages. Inspired by her own assault, it explores a rape and its aftermath from the perspective of both victim and perpetrator. Winnie is also Founder and Artistic Director of the Clear Lines, the UK’s first-ever festival addressing sexual assault and consent through the arts and discussion. Her PhD research at the London School of Economics explores media engagement by rape survivors as a form of activism. Winnie has appeared in The Guardian, The Mail on Sunday, The Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Irish Times, BBC World News, Sky News, and TEDx London. She has an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland, in recognition of her writing and advocacy.
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