Is this plot surprise sexist, like I was told?

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ironpony
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19 Oct 2021, 12:57 am

For a story I am writing, I feel I have to give a sexual assault subject matter content warning for this. I don't want to offend anyone of course.

So in the story, a man is accused of rape, but later on in the story, we the reader, find out that she wasn't raped, and was falsely accusing him, and falsifying evidence of it. Her motivations are rather complicated, so I won't go so much into that, but that doesn't seem to be the problem.

The problem readers have so far is they do not like this surprise where it turns out she is lying. They feel that it re-enforces the stereotype of women not falsely accusing in general, and trivialises the crime of rape therefore. I do not mean to make any type of social statement on stereotyping at all. This female character is not intended as a general representation. In fact I would say she is quite different than most for sure.

However, I was told that it will come off as a let down, if the reader is suprised by this later. I was told I should make it clear to the reader that her accusations are false from the very beginning, rather than finding out by surprise later in the story.

Do you think the readers have a point, and that I should kill by darling as the saying goes, and not have it be a surprise, but the reader knows all along, because at least that way, it's not such a punch in the gut maybe, if I set it up from the beginning?

Thank you for any advice on it! I really appreciate it!



DuckHairback
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19 Oct 2021, 5:52 am

In my opinion a plot surprise cannot be sexist. A book cannot be sexist. Only an author can be sexist.

Your story is something that happens in real life. That's undeniable and its fair game for literature. But it is a contentious issue. So if you want to write this story, you need to be very aware of the arguments around it.

You may not feel like you're making a statement on rape or women who accuse men of rape, but you clearly feel that this story is important and needs to be told. Why? Perhaps you do have something to say about it? And I think you should.

Because if you don't, then you're just using it as a plot device and that, in it's way, is a statement in and of itself.

False rape accusations are part of a complicated social narrative. If you write a book that presents this situation without thinking about where your sympathies lie, or without reference to that real-life social narrative, then you risk it becoming interpreted in ways you didn't intend.

I'm afraid, whether you like it or not, if you write it you're making a statement. Or at least a comment. Because you're not describing a real thing that happened. It's fiction. You're making choices.

Which is fine, make your choices but know why you're making those choices and be able to defend them.

More practically, I think you can ignore the advice that a reveal of the character's dishonesty later in the book would be a let down. Particularly if you've built up a good bit of sympathy for this character, a punch in the gut is no bad thing. As long as its earned, you can do what you want.

Essentially, this is all going to come down to how you handle this issue in your story - how clear are you in your thinking about it. And how skilled a writer are you to be sure you're sending the messages you want to send?

Hope that helps



mohsart
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19 Oct 2021, 2:41 pm

I never ventured into literature to a degree, but I once wrote a short story about a man/boy who knocked down a woman/girl from behind and raped her. Then stayed til she awoke and comforted her and well it ended up that they hooked up. The punchline, if you want to call it that was that she got pregnant during the rape and he said "I will raise the kid as if it was my own".
Dark humor is almost always good!

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mohsart
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19 Oct 2021, 2:53 pm

I also remember a short film about a woman who's been raped and driven by her husband from the hospital.
Suddenly she screams "That's him! He's the one who did it!" and points to a man.
The husband stops the car and goes out with a hammer and beats the man to pulp.
Then he gets in the car, says "it is done" and a short while later his wife points at a man and screams "That's him! He's the one who raped me!"

That was a good short film!

/Mats


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19 Oct 2021, 2:54 pm

In my opinion, the readers have a point -- it does play into a sexist stereotype.

However, if there is a hidden reason why she is doing this -- someone from her past is blackmailing her, for example -- then the stereotype can be lampshaded by a plot twist of her being the victim of a completely different crime; and if the blackmail involves her protecting yet another person from being publicly shamed and disgraced, then you have added yet another plot twist.

"Curiouser and curiouser", said Alice.



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19 Oct 2021, 3:48 pm

The others posts do have a point about springing such a thing into the plot. Perhaps you could tweak it so he crosses her in some way like stealing her parking space or buying the last of some product she wanted. Something minor that most would shrug off. For someone to make a false allegation takes a vindictive nature; if you are including the trial you could give hints of this in the court dialogue. What you also need in something like this is a false witness perhaps a friend of hers who either just believes her or is just as bad as she is.

There are people out there that are drama queens. Another avenue to consider for this character.

I advise doing a little digging on real cases where such false allegations were made to add a touch of realism to your work.


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19 Oct 2021, 4:14 pm

There are many ways to skin that cat.
You could also portray him as a complete loser when it comes to relationships, and when he finally succeds this happens.
Yes I'm dark.

/Mats


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19 Oct 2021, 11:43 pm

Simple.

Add yet one more plot twist.

First it turns out that he didnt rape her.

And THEN it turns out that he...put her up to it. Conspired with her to make the fake rape charge against him.

Did so because....

He is running for political office, and wants to conceal the fact that he is homosexual.

Ergo...if he gets accused of raping a woman...the voters will never suspect that he is really gay! :D



ironpony
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20 Oct 2021, 2:35 am

Oh okay, I can think about the suggestions thanks. I never knew this was a sexist stereotype though. Does this happen often enough that it has been stereotyped, and I missed it perhaps?



naturalplastic
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20 Oct 2021, 6:28 pm

This is like the twentieth time you have asked as all about a story idea that has to do with the theme of rape.

Either you keep trying to rewrite the same story and keep failing. Or this is your twentieth failed story built upon the same one theme of rape. Either way maybe you ought to just give up.

Try some other theme. Maybe murder instead of rape, as a theme.

False accusations of things like rape, and sexual harrassment, are common enough to make it a thing men are afraid of . Because of that it creates two problems-(1) your "surprise" twist is NOT so surprising, and (2)it offends for being sexist because its a currently sensitive issue.



ironpony
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20 Oct 2021, 7:48 pm

Oh okay, I just didn't think that a woman falsly accusing in fiction means it's sexist, since it's possible it could happen. But I don't have to have it be a surprise if that's best. I didn't mean to take this long writing it, it's just with covid not as much else to do I figured, plus I thought I would work off of people's feedback.



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02 Nov 2021, 7:50 pm

mohsart wrote:
I also remember a short film about a woman who's been raped and driven by her husband from the hospital.
Suddenly she screams "That's him! He's the one who did it!" and points to a man.
The husband stops the car and goes out with a hammer and beats the man to pulp.
Then he gets in the car, says "it is done" and a short while later his wife points at a man and screams "That's him! He's the one who raped me!"

That was a good short film!

/Mats


That was also an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, as well as an episode of the short lived remake of the show.


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Owaain
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07 Nov 2021, 2:40 pm

I wasn't victim of any abuse of this kind and I am not the most suited person to talk about that, but I think that it depend on how you write this:

if what the story say is "this character accuse this character to harm him"
but if this is writting looks like "this female character accuse this character of rape to harm him", then, I think it will be a lot more problematic.

The easy way would be to change the accusation, however, I think it could work, but it would take a lot of caution

in an ideal world, so much caution wouldn't be needed, but due to the idea that female lying about that is common, having idea like that in a story can be dangerous if they are not nuanced, or the crime itself being irrelevant



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07 Nov 2021, 3:28 pm

mohsart wrote:
I never ventured into literature to a degree, but I once wrote a short story about a man/boy who knocked down a woman/girl from behind and raped her. Then stayed til she awoke and comforted her and well it ended up that they hooked up. The punchline, if you want to call it that was that she got pregnant during the rape and he said "I will raise the kid as if it was my own".
Dark humor is almost always good!

/Mats



Catherine Cookson wrote a book like that, sort of. The Dweling.

Don't think she'd get published today.



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07 Nov 2021, 3:33 pm

Oh my word. This plot gets worse the more you work on it. Why would you touch the subject of rape with a ten foot barge pole, I don't know.

You're just using it as a cheap plot device. It's a horrible thing and you're using it as a gimmick.

This film will get torched by critics. Far right
Red pill groups will love this liar. "See, men get used too," they'll say.

Do you want to make a film that extremists will love?

Do you actually read or watch any film theory?



ironpony
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07 Nov 2021, 5:42 pm

Oh yes, I have read books on film theory and watched programs on it. I don't think I am using it as a cheap plot device though. There are other works of fiction that have used a person accusing another person of rape, and lying about it though. To Kill A Mockingbird does this for example, and it's not used as a cheap plot device there.

So it can be done without being cheap though, like in that an example like that, can't it?