American Horror Story and Gratuitous Rape

American Horror Story is a show that loves to push boundaries.
Sometimes it does this with some terribly emotional, painful and
dramatic scenes that are incredible to watch. Sometimes it does this by
invoking and presenting a horrendously hard to watch issue,
realistically and with no sugar-coating as it did in American Horror Story: Asylum,
with the painful depictions of ex-gay “therapy” inflicted on Lana. And
sometimes it does this by deciding to have Anne Frank run around in an
act of line crossing that left us stunned.

In it’s urge to shock, American Horror Story
loves to leap across lines it should hesitate to cross, and rarely have
we seen this more evident than with the constant depiction of rape
through these 2 seasons.

Rape was a consistent theme throughout American Horror Story: Asylum.
In many cases, it was absolutely brutal and painful to watch.  In the
media, it is not uncommon to see violence aimed at women but the degree
to which American Horror Story: Asylum included rape in its
storyline this year was absolutely gratuitous. One cannot even
reasonably argue that the rape occurred to move the plot along – it was
inserted for shock value, nothing more. Leigh didn’t need to try and
rape Jude to have his revenge with her, any more than in America Horror Story: Murder House, Tate had to rape Patrick to murder him. The point of  American Horror Story: Asylum,
was for the viewer to be horrified by the conditions of the inmates and
this most certainly could have been done without the continual rape of
women.  Rape became a facet of entertainment, a tool for setting the

All of the rapists were clearly to be understood as evil
and in particular Dr. Thredson played by Zachary Quinto. It is good that
rape is understood as a terrible violation; however, American Horror Story: Asylum
made it seem as though all rape occurs because of psychopaths. Even
though the rape itself was intimate because all of the victims knew
their attacker in someway, the attacks still occurred within a framework
of the rapist being psychologically damaged in some way, as a way of
explaining his actions. The true motivation for rape is power, not
psychosis, as American Horror Story: Asylum would have us
believe. It doesn’t take a mental illness to make a rapist, nor can we
attempt to excuse or distance ourselves from the horrors of rape, by
presenting the perpetrators as always as these evil, mentally damaged
people, rather than, as is often the case, the normal man in the street,
the neighbour, the friend – even the loved one. This is a trope which
was continued on from  American Horror Story: Murder House, where
the rapist of Vivien and Patrick was Tate, a mass murderer and someone
who was again presented to be insane. This approach servers to
pathologize the mentally ill and establish mental illness as a threat to
the safety and society. 

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