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Gratuitous Rape

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TRIGGER WARNING article discusses fictional rape as a narrative device.

"Take a good look at your story. Why do you think a rape is what you need for it to progress? Is there something else that could fill the same function? Unless you have a damn good reason to include rape in a story, you probably shouldn't." -Rachel Edidin, InsideOut

"You didn't think about the weight of including a rape scene! You just used it as a cheap shock tactic and that's deplorable! The movie itself, beforehand, was so bad, but this just leaves a truly rotten taste in the mouth, and I can say without hesitation that this movie can go fuck itself." —Film Brain on The Cavern

Gratuitous Rape is a trope where a pointless rape scene is used in a work for little to no narrative reason and little to no literary merit.

There are many guesses as to why Gratuitous Rape is used so much. To name a few, rape makes for good drama, can be used to Break The Cutie, serves as a very strong Kick The Dog moment to underline the evilness of a villain, or it can be used for just plain ol' fanservice. Then again there are a lot of other things that would work as well. What some creators forget, is that rape is a sensitive subject and therefore rape scenes should be handled with care. When unskilled hands insist on shoehorning rape somewhere into their work, THIS happens. Gratuitous Rape is a common cliche in fan works, but professional works are no stranger to it, either.

A good indicator as to whether or not rape is gratuitous is if:

  • The rape scene(s) can be taken out entirely and the plot is not affected.
  • The plot actually makes more sense if the rape scene(s) is replaced by something else (e.g. torture, or just killing him already). This one is usually apparent from the Fridge Logic it causes.
  • The rape scene(s) relies on bad writing such as character derailment (the Big Bad just forgets his usual modus operandi of killing quickly and efficiently) or an Idiot Ball (the Mooks stop to rape a wounded hero as they are being shot at by the other heroes).

Contrast CoitusEnsues, a pointless but consensual sex scene.

Analysis
  • Discussed in the webcomic Something Positive. Davan sends a rejection letter to the writer of a bad play which reads "A better title for your play would be Rape-Rape: A Tale of Rapening. Also, your next play should have a little less rape in it."

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