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  • Writer's pictureMelanie

Promising Young Woman : the truth about rape culture

If you are reading this, I hope you have already seen this film. If not, lucky you ! Go and watch it, you are in for a treat ! This is an amazing film on rape culture and how society protects rapists. Carey Mulligan plays Cassie, a woman who fights against rape culture. We meet her as she is passing out at a bar. We learn about her through the perspective of three men looking at her and discussing how easy it would be to get their way with her. One of them takes her home. As she passes out, he tries to have sex with her.

Of course, she is not drunk and she looks him straight in the eye as she asks him what he is doing. The man freaks out - wouldn't he be relieved that the girl is actually in a state of giving consent or walk away ? We discover she is known in the community for doing that.

© Netflix

Later on, we learn she is Nina's friend, a girl who got raped by one of the male students at med school. When she brought it up, no one believed her. Nina and Cassie dropped out. Cassie tried to take care of her but ,when the film starts, Nina has died despite Cassie's efforts.

Promising Young Woman shows how society puts the blame on the victim and not the abusers. How many times girls and women have to be careful ? Why are we teaching girls they need to be careful and not educating boys on consent and abuse ?

According to Legal Jobs, 90% of adult rape victims are female. In the US, 70 women commit suicide every day as a result of sexual violence. For every 1000 rapes in the US, 995 perpetrators will go unpunished.

Divided States of Women have a very interesting article about that : "Most perpetrators of sexual violence are men so why do we call it a women's issue ?" . It says that 90 % of perpetrators of sexual violence against women are men. And that even when men are victims of sexual assault, 93 % of victims reported their abuser was a man.

Men are in a very very large majority the ones ending up on the perpetrator's side and women overwhelmingly the victims. I bet some of you reading it, will think "but not all men". When the gender imbalance is that big, I don't care. This is not our job to take care of men's egos. If you feel triggered as a man, maybe you should review your behaviour and ask yourself some questions.

Although it is not all men, it is a too high majority which means it is safer for a woman to be suspicious of all men rather than give her trust to most of them. Why a boy going out can get black out drunk and not judged for it ? If a girl does, "she is asking for it". Most importantly, why are men not talking about sexual abuse ?

This film shows men know they are doing something wrong. Even when she says no, or that she needs to go, they do not listen. How fucked up is that ? Of course, as soon as she is actually not drunk, they freak out. They know they are doing something wrong. They know. They are doing it on purpose.

© Netflix

Cassie gets her revenge even if she pays it with her life. Sadly that is more than most victims of rape get. Watching Promising Young Woman reminded me of the Brock Turner case where he tried to rape a female student while she was unconscious on Stanford's campus. Two other students intervened and held him until the police arrived. Until there was public outcry, it was still the girl's fault because she was drunk and not his fault for committing a crime. This is how the media depicted it at the time.

The justice and media tried to protect the rapist although there was overwhelming proof and witnesses. They said they did not want to wreck his future as he was a promising athlete - you can read more on here.

Photos of him smiling would accompany the articles and they would highlight his accomplishment and not his crimes - you can read more on here. It took USA Swimming to say they would never welcome him for opinions to start shifting. Brock was sentenced to 6 months in jail but only served 3.

© Netflix

This film shows how women are tricked into thinking they were responsible when they were not. For crimes perpetrated by men, we are still too often looking at the women, trying to put on blame on victims for coming forward and, when they do, failing to protect them. The law is failing the victims and protecting the offenders. The law failed Nina and countless other victims. This is why Cassie takes matter into her owns hands. She does not break any laws. The most controversial thing she does is break the car window of a man verbally assaulting her on the road. Otherwise, it might be morally questionable but she does nothing that's illegal. And that's the beauty of it.

The storytelling is amazing and the twists are breath-taking. Promising Young Woman is a must-watch and hopefully, a future Oscar contender. We need films like these to get recognition to change society and fight against rape culture.

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