Let me preface this review of this week’s Law and Order: SVU, “25 Acts,” by saying that I have not read 50 Shades of Grey. My friend loaned it to me, but it’s been sitting on my shelf for months. It’s not because I’m a prude, though (I’m a member of the Romance Writers of America and I’ve been reading far more explicit erotica since I was in grade school), it’s because I have moral objections to people profitting off of fan fiction.
I suppose it was inevitable that SVU would do an ep based around the popular book series; how could they resist? But I had serious issues with this episode and it wasn’t just the ick factor of seeing Vada Sultenfuss get raped twice. (Yeah, guest star Anna Chulmsky was the cute kid in My Girl. Wrap your brain around that!)
My issues lie in the fact that at no point in the episode is bondage not treated like something a woman should be ashamed of enjoying. Eventually it was revealed that the victim didn’t actually write the book, and that the fantasies contained within were really her professor’s. You could see hope on the faces of the squad and the new ADA, like it would be so much easier to prove rape if the victim hadn’t written a book about women enjoying kinky sex.
In fact, in the preparation for the trial, Munch and Finn actually went to interview the girl’s former partners, to find out if she’d been a part of the lifestyle she seemingly wrote about…and everyone was surprised that she hadn’t…as if it wasn’t possible to write about bondage without doing it. By that same token, they would also have to assume that JK Rowling battles dark wizards in her spare time. It’s ridiculous.
The whole reason for the professor allowing her student to publish her book was because the professor knew she’d be laughed right out of the world of academia if she’d published under her own name. Even when the secret came out and she took the stand in her student’s defense, she never looked the defense in the eye and said that writing about bondage or flirting on TV to sell books was not an invitation to be raped. She just sat there, still ashamed that she’d dared to put her sexual preferences on paper.
It’s like we’ve finally reached a point in our society where we’re willing to let women enjoy sex…as long as it’s straight-forward, missionary position, no-kink sex. Anything else and it’s suddenly all right again to mock and shame them. If you need proof of this, just look at the backlash against 50 Shades or the way romance novels have been treated throughout history, but most especially in the past forty to fifty years. A book that is entirely about a woman having and enjoying sex or even just falling in love is dismissed as being fluff or ridiculed for being implausible…even by other women!!
Rather than exposing this double standard, SVU fell right into it. Sure, they had Benson trying to stick up for the victim, but behind closed doors, she and Rollins rolled their eyes over the possibility that a woman could have multiple orgasms from being whipped. Neither one of them ever said, “I like to be spanked,” or “She likes to be spanked, so what?”
In the end, the ADA managed to get a conviction, but he had to go to extremes to prove his point, not to mention that most rapists are way too clever to freak out in the courtroom like that. I feel like the writers must have been so proud of themselves for showing that even a man who raped a woman he thought was into bondage could be convicted, but all they really did was show women, yet again, that society still thinks that only a certain kind of girl can be raped and everyone else is asking for it.
What did you think of the episode? Let me know below! And you can always follow me on Twitter @krieli1.