Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn made me question a few things…


Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I finished this book a while ago and wanted to kind of let it sink in before I reviewed it. I also planned to go and watch the movie tonight and write my review afterwards, but we won’t be able to go anymore because of kid stuff. I reckon before I start with NaNoWriMo I should probably get my thoughts down.

This was certainly not close to being the best book I have ever read. To be honest the only reason I read it was because of the hype. The only observation I can offer is that sometimes I  kind of felt that some of the words used were a little “big” for the writing style. Maybe that’s just me though. As far as books go, it was pretty average, but this particular story did kind of tie in with something that I’ve been struggling to put into words for a while.

Now please, I need it to be absolutely clear that what I am about to say in absolutely no way reflects poorly on the author of this story. I am not one to bemoan the state of literature, or entertainment in general, and go on and on about how creatives have a duty to the public to blah blah blah. Creatives are not there to help you become a better person. They are not there to educate you or teach you any specific thing. They are there to create. That is not to say that the things we consume (movies, books, poetry etc) don’t have a growth-like/detrimental effect on us. They might. But it is your own job to be a specific kind of person and to make sure that you grown in the right direction. You need to question everything. You need to take nothing at face value. And above all: you need to remember that characters in books are not characters in real life.

I’ve been thinking about rape a lot. As in: I think about rape every single day. It’s kind of weird I guess, but it is a subject that has weighed on me for most of my life. I can give no real reason for that, other than the fact that rape exists in all sorts of forms all around us. So I think about it. A lot.

I read a statistic recently that noted that as little as 2% of rape charges are false. 2%! But let’s round up and call it 10% just to make sure that we haven’t made the number too small.

I read that statistic and my stomach lurched.

Do you know why?

Because for a very long time I have assumed that that number was much higher. I just assumed it. Seemingly for no reason, I, a girl (with a 1 in 5 chance of being sexually assaulted sometime in my life) assumed that a lot of women cry rape as a sort of “fuck you” to men who they are pissed at.

WHY ON EARTH WOULD I THINK THAT?!

The only possible answer I can come up with is because of the entertainment that I consume. The female falsely accusing men of rape is a common character who I have encountered many times, in many different forms. I first encountered her in the movie The Crush with Alicia Silverstone when I was very young. That movie gave me chills. I still, to this day, worry that that kind of thing will happen to my brother. The book Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult was just as chilling. And now, here’s Amazing Amy, with her special brand of crazy.
The false accusation of rape is so destructive (obviously rape is also destructive – I am in no way saying that it isn’t) and it has always struck me as such an efficient way to completely break a good man to a point of repairlessness.

Somehow, this woman, this destructive crazy (and fictional) woman who cries rape with ease and with the intent to punish and innocent person, has become a common figure. She has moved from the pages of books and from behind the camera and become far more “real” than she actually is.

And she has made it really difficult for women who have suffered real trauma to get justice for themselves. This fictional woman who exists only to add depth and dimension to stories (she is crazy because the story would be boring if she wasn’t) has walked into the lives of real women and she has planted this massive seed of doubt into the minds of the real public.

Is this the fault of the writers who created these women? Of course not! It is our (my!) own fault for allowing fiction to cloud reality without giving it a proper deal of consideration.

We all want our rapists to be scary terrifying people. We want our rape to be brutal, destructive, bloody. We need our rape to look like rape so that we can recognize it and be sure: this is rape.

But it doesn’t always work like that. Sometimes rape happens at the hands of a super cool guy who you went to school with. Sometimes your best mate is abusing his wife. Sometimes it’s the teacher who gives the most interesting classes. The trusted religious councillor. People with kind faces and lovely demeanours.

They don’t look like rapists. So when their victims come forward, we write them off as liars. So-and-so is a good guy. He would never rape. She must be lying. Women do that “all the time”. And so we err on the side of caution.

Because even if she was raped, at least it’s “over”, right? She can get over it and move on. No one moves on from a false rape conviction.

Right?

It is easier for our peace of mind to believe that victim as a liar, than to believe the worst of someone that we love. Anger at a liar is easier on us than having to acknowledge that our fathers/brothers/husbands/mentors have violated someone in this way. (Note: I acknowledge that women also rape and that men can also be victims of sexual assault. I in no way minimise that.)

We need to stop confusing fictional crazy with real women. We need to not let the liberties taken by writers influence how we respond to these kinds of things. Let everything you read allow you to think. Don’t let the things you read be your truth, rather allow the things you read to lead you to your truth.

I am the first to admit that books and stories have shaped me and that in many ways the parts of me that have been shaped by the extraordinary minds of my favourite authors are my favourite parts of myself. I do need to be careful though. Fiction is only fiction. Fiction is sometimes truth but not always. Real truth is often a lot quieter than fiction. Real truth whispers and it gets lost in the midst of everything louder and flashier. You have to look for it.

You have to look for it.

You have to look for it!

It is no author’s job to hand it to you.

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