In Tyler Perry's new movie, characters Judith and Harley are on Harley’s plane when Harley, in the most unsexy manner possible, lets Judith know that he wants to make love to her. Judith rebuffs him, saying they should keep things strictly professional. Harley grabs her, and Judith says “no” forcefully, a few times, which turns Harley on even more. He pauses long enough to say, “Okay, now you can say you resisted,” and then appears to rape Judith.
The next time we see them, Judith is snatching away from Harley and telling him she wants nothing more to do with him and never wants to see him again–all signs that the encounter on the plane was, indeed a rape. However, in the next scene, Judith sees Harley at her job and becomes angry when he does as she asked and ignores her.
Suddenly, Judith is at home on her cell phone, berating Harley for not paying her any attention–while her oblivious husband watches a basketball game in the next room. Harley demands to know if Judith’s husband is better in bed than he–and instead of saying, “Of course, since he’s not a rapist”–Judith flashes back to what passes for steamy lovemaking in a Tyler Perry movie. We’re then made to understand that Judith did indeed consent, or at least, gave in.
The problem is, we don’t see Judith giving in. We do see her saying “no,” and Harley forcing himself on her. We don’t understand that she eventually acquiesced until the flashbacks. And this is why Perry deserves some backlash–backlash he won’t get from mainstream media–for this scene.
Perry could have easily made Judith’s consent obvious. A breathless “Yes!" would have made Judith’s desires clear. Instead, Perry inexplicably chooses to leave the audience in suspense as to whether or not an actual rape occurred, all while promoting the dangerous idea that a woman’s “no” is not really “no,” but merely part of the game of seduction. This scene puts Perry in such fine company as people who argue that date/acquaintance rape is simply buyer’s remorse, and men who argue–as one man did on Twitter last week–that a man has to push to make sure a woman’s “No” is really “No.”. Tyler Perry has spoke out about his own past with sexual abuse and the damage it caused. He should know better than to make a film that perpetrates rape culture and make it seem as if it's okay to have sex with someone after they've said "no" and that if you have sex with them anyway, maybe they'll want you after. Tyler Perry needs to apologize for this scene and the message it's sending!
Citation: Carolyn Edgar
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