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Blog: Bridgerton.. Definitions Matter

Updated: Mar 2

Call it what it is.. please

#consentmatters (TW mentions rape without describing what happened in detail)

This week has been difficult for many and I am thinking of our NHS and other key workers. Being locked down in London (UK), I started to watch Bridgerton on Netflix (a little later than many I know).

Loving the flamboyance and beautiful vibrancy of the attire, it was opulent escapism and easy – viewing. I didn’t love everything in it’s entirety, but loved the casting, the scenery was stunning and seeing the city of Bath (which I’m very familiar with) was warming and gorgeous. However, I went against my better judgement in watching it, because I had briefly seen a rape scene referred to.

My gut told me ‘No’ when it was released.

The scene in which Daphne rapes Simon stuck with and triggered me. On first viewing it felt uneasy. I had a strong desire to switch it off, but then (again) went against my instinct by wanting to see how it was dealt with in the aftermath.

One of my impulses is to doubt how strong my feelings of revulsion to a storyline are, which is learnt behaviour. When something stays with me for a few days, or overnight even, I resent the fact that I ‘allowed’ it to get under my skin. Immediately, I try to convince myself that I can ‘tolerate’ this, but I can’t and why should I have to?

For me, a big focus is how mainstream media and those surrounding the show describe what happened. I would love warnings on shows to include the word ‘rape’ at the start of the episode, because language matters and, if we don’t see this in everyday society, how will we break down the belief that there is a ‘grey’ area? I appreciate that the show is based on Julia Quinn’s novels and I also understand that, sometimes in dramas and films, a character may not be able to clearly define what has happened. This is understandable, but if everyone viewing and commentating on it did, I think this would help raise awareness on sexual abuse, rape, harassment and assault.

I did not get to the end of the series, but hear that Daphne has a baby, or Daphne and Simon have a baby, in Bridgerton. Consent matters and defining fictional events correctly MATTERS. Popular culture can help move society forwards and stop the ‘buts’ that will be used to justify actions.

Another thing that has been a huge focus for me has been shame, along with me questioning whether some of my experiences are valid or ‘enough’ for me to be feeling all these years later. Spoiler alert: they are! When memories are not clear, but the body tells the story, or when some experiences relate to emotional abuse, often people will use the word ‘just’ in referring to their story. Emotional abuse is painful and your feelings are valid, as is your need to heal.

Image credit: Canva

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