Like Lauredhel, I think that the Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) almost certainly meant well by this PSA. I don’t know how else they could have meant. But somehow, that doesn’t really matter to me while I’m watching it, at all.
(For those unable to view video, Lauredhel has a transcript.)
The commenters at Hoyden About Town express numerous problems with this PSA: a lack of real educational value, its triggering and unserious nature, references to rape as “sex,” and the treatment of women as sexual property to be handed from one man to the next (as if it would be okay if there wasn’t abuse involved). Lauredhel herself criticizes the idea, presented in the PSA, that this would be an ideal outcome of abuse. I agree wholeheartedly with all of these criticisms. I think they’re spot on.
But I’ll tell you what bothers me most about this PSA. What bothers me most isn’t even the portrayal of the abuser, which I think is atrocious. What bothers me is the portrayal of the victim.
This PSA portrays the woman in question as though she liked the abuse.
Far from being upset about the abuse, she’s not even embarrassed by her father’s decision to bring up the supposed “sex” (read: RAPE). She thinks it’s funny. And by responding to her father’s comment to her new husband that he’ll give him some “tips” for the bedroom with a giggle and playful slap to the arm, it’s suggested that providing those tips wouldn’t really be such a bad idea. And how could supplying “sex” tips to her new husband not be a bad idea, unless she liked the abuse?
This is horrendous. Portraying a victim as enjoying abuse — of course not discounting the fact that many children (as well as adults) feel a physical sexual response during abuse, but recognizing that it’s not the same as “enjoyment” and instead a side effect that usually brings its own trauma with it — is never okay. Ever. It’s just not. Even if it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. Or “ironic.” Or whatever.
And back to Lauredhel’s comments, the fact that they’re suggesting this as something we should aim for? Portraying as ideal a world where your childhood abuser is unproblematically invited to your wedding with joy, where all is forgiven and new relationships with the abuser easily forged, where childhood rape really is just “sex” and the abused child (whether male or female) likes it, so it’s all okay?
I am not amused.
[That being said, I am not a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, at least not in the context seemingly defined here (pre-adolescence and at the hands of a family member), and am therefore very interested in the thoughts of others, especially those who have survived such violence.]