Streetcar: Portrayal of a Rape


Portrayal of Rape

Streetcar named desire implants dangerous stereotypes about rape victims and the results of reporting rapes. In more recent years, an increase in law enforcement, better safety techniques and a much more poignant and negative view of rapists in the media have helped to reduce the frequency of such actions.

Thanks to extended efforts reported rapes have drastically fallen between 1979 and 2009 2.8 per 1000 to .5 per 1000. Of course there is the hope that the crimes are not simply going unreported.

The portrayal in streetcar and the life of the victim post event suggest that the likelihood that a victim will be believed is remarkably low. This can cause a desire for advocacy but can also lead people to believe that this is not an exceptional occurrence. The emotional and physical suffering that a rape victim goes through is heartbreaking enough, but then to suggest that they will not be believed and be seen as someone trying to slander the reputation of an otherwise good person discourages some from reporting, and they instead try to pretend such events never happened.

Theatre and other media means have grown to portray victimizes in a much more negative light. Specifically in film and television the increase in crime based dramas and police procedural shows depicts the perpetrators of these crimes being caught and justice being served. In addition, they show all the support that victims can receive from government run groups and victim support centers. These same modern media sources and modern laws give much more power and protection to the victim of these incidents. With the ease of amateur creation of media we even see more revenge media and victim empowerment specifically in film. Such media suggests that victims are not powerless and that the perpetrators deserve to pay.

We see Stella did not believe Blanch even though she has history of issues with her husband. This refusal to see the truth, or selective blindness regarding those closest in our lives, can lead to those we love being hurt. Stella in response to Blanch claiming this rape happened, still didn’t believe her and Blanch ended up in the loony bin. Such a painful turn of events wrenches my heart.

Jonathan Spies


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