Tag Archives: Media Portrayal

Rape and Consent in American Horror Story Asylum: The Name Game

24 Jan

So I am a few episodes behind on this season of American Horror Story, I just watched episode 10: The Name Game. Obviously this show is known for its graphic portrayals of sex and violence, its one of the reasons that it is the show I love to hate. This episode however, flipped the roles of sexual violence as Monsignor Howard’s virginity is taken from him when Sister Mary Eunice (AKA the Devil) rapes him. Of course she has the power of the devil on her side to keep him immobile during the rape, but these supernatural aids aside, the scene does an interesting job of raising questions of consent through a new frame.

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Sister Mary Eunice suggests that Howard’s body disagrees with him as he protests her advances. He pleas with her, maintaining that he has taken a vow. She counters by suggesting that he says it with lack of conviction. It’s the classic “no means yes” turned on its head. It is a man being raped by a woman, and a priest at that. Its horrific, and terrible yes but I also think its important putting it through this lens.

I would say that the majority of the sexual violence depicted on this show is not done in a “sexy way”, it is usually as uncomfortable and graphic as the acts themselves are. This scene however is rather sexualized. Sister Mary Eunice sports a sexy red night gown, and straddles over Howard suggestively.

I’m not saying I agree with the sexualization of this rape, rape is terrible no matter what, but I think that doing this- reversing the roles in this way and objectifying and victimizing the male character- does a good job at pointing out the ridiculousness of this practice. Rapes are sexualized in media all the time, and no one raises an eyebrow, but when a man is the victim it somehow stands out. It is no longer normalized. I like this, I like that by switching the roles it becomes easier to see that this practice it not ok. Rape isn’t sexy, no does mean no.

Sure Monsignor Howard doesn’t say no with much conviction, just as media’s portrayal of sexualized violence against women doesn’t often show them objecting with much conviction- but as an audience we feel that this isn’t an accurate representation.

Here’s why. Not only is Monsignor Howard a man who has taken a vow and devoted his life to God, he is certainly not going to give up his chastity to of all people the devil incarnate. The absurdity of this scene, the idea that this pious man would even for a second not mean no when he says no to getting raped by the devil I believe is a comment on anyone who says no ever. When we say no, we mean no- it doesn’t matter how you interpret the way we say no. We aren’t playing coy, our bodies our just that- ours. And when Monsignor Howard says he gave his body to Christ, he meant it. And then the devil stole it. And that my friends, is as accurate a metaphor for rape as I’ve seen in a while.

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