Surprise! Attempted Rape Scene In Episode of “The Walking Dead”

  AMC, I have a bone to pick with you. Your "rape-fest for ratings" sneak attack on this week's episode of "The Walking Dead" pissed me off. Ever heard of a trigger warning, assholes? From what I understand, "The Walking Dead" is a show about killing zombies. Your viewers want blood and gore and violence and suspense, and you give it to them in spades. Fair enough. I get that they are probably getting bored with watching drooling monsters get their heads smashed in. But inserting a gratuitous and highly eroticized attempted rape scene into this week's episode to court "shock'n'awe ratings" was fucking wrong, and you owe the women of America an apology. Fake killing fake zombies in a fake post-apocalyptic U.S., that is fantasy. Rape is a reality. It is a dehumanizing, soul-killing reality. That has traumatized and terrified a good portion of the women, directly or otherwise, watching your show last night. Shame on you for dredging up old hurts and current fears (and invalidating what these survivors have been though) in the pursuit of the allmighty dollar. Shame on you for making the scene as "sexy" as possible, that fucked up striptease you had the "most attractive by your fascist beauty standards" female character do accomplished it's job; a friend was watching at a bar that screens your show every week, and the shithead fratboys behind her were soooooo pissed that "AMC wouldn't show tits." Way to promote rape-culture, greedy corporate bastards.     Tizzy Giordano refuses to bow down to the powers that be. We all know that well-behaved women aren't allowed to make history, and she intends to. She is an angry feminist, and damn proud of it. She believes that those who aren't angry are part of the problem. To call her a raging bitch is a compliment. A Feminazi? Music to her ears. She vehemently rejects and loudly rails against oppression and injustice of any kind. She intends to see the walls of Patriarchy crumble down around her, and can't wait to help pick up the pieces to tenderly re-build that "Another World" she knows is beautifully close, and infinitely possible.    Image credit Gudlyf via the Creative Commons License.

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  • frustrated viewer

    I’m glad you wrote this, I was definitely thrown off by that scene (to say the least). I recognize that in an apocalyptic society, yes, [sexual] violence against women has the possibility to become an even worse problem than it would have been when things were more “civilized”** but AMC had two whole seasons to tell us that–I don’t want to see it every week (I don’t want to see it at all, actually), but had they wanted us to be aware that violence against women was a problem within the context of the show, they could have shown that just about any other way. Instead, AMC didn’t so much address violence against women so much as they showed a crazy, creepy guy terrorizing a woman who was already in a position to fear for her safety. Guess what, I already know he’s crazy! You demonstrated that a few episodes ago!

    **For anybody who doesn’t think it’s bad now, read about how rape is used as a weapon of war against women and children, or check out and read accounts of women suffering street harassment, a dehumanizing gateway crime that’s some beileve is only a few steps away from much more serious crimes, like rape.

  • ..::bEEp::..

    Tizzy Giordano, I am not glad that you wrote this article. AMC promoted rape-culture? Yes, they did; as much as Shakespeare promoted suicide, murder, etc… A sneak attack rape-scene? I’ve been reading the comics for years (they’ve been running a long, long time), and I can tell you, this was nothing sneaky about that scene. It was originally much worse in print-form, albeit for a different female protagonist (AMC toned it down for television). I encourage you to read the TPBs – in particular the volume where Michonne and Glen are held captive by the Governor – and read it through. Fair warning, there’s a disturbing rape-scene, as well as a cruelly unnecessary amputation of Rick’s right hand by the Governor. It most certainly was not a ‘rape-fest for ratings sneak attack’; the reason you were surprised is that you’re unfamiliar with the entire series. You’re opposed to rape: get in line, its’ supporters are few and far between. If you find it so objectionable, I recommend you withdraw your support for this series (possibly fiction-for-adults as well?), instead of churning out a reactionary article. This piece reads like a drunkard’s rant.

  • Tizzy Giordano

    Hey there frustrated viewer, I really appreciate your comments, you made some awesome points!

    “Instead, AMC didn’t so much address violence against women so much as they showed a crazy, creepy guy terrorizing a woman who was already in a position to fear for her safety.”

    Love this, so spot on.

    BTW, I absolutely believe sexual harassment leads to rape.

    It’s the “women exist purely for my sexual pleasure” mindset…it is much easier for these psychos to justify raping an object than it is to justify raping a person.

    And fuck all that noise.

    But thank you for bringing up…they do a fabulous job of giving victims a platform to voice the epidemic of gender based harassment and violence that plagues our communities.

    Voicing it makes it real, and helps us move past the feelings of shame and degradation that being treated like we are nothing but “holes to fuck” brings up. And it it gives other women the permission to recognize and be angry as well! Can’t say enough good things about their mission…

  • facebook-1072705073

    bEEp – yo (dude?) WTF? Are you some kind of a pop culture rape-defending Daniel Tosh? We don’t condone that kind of blowback here (“drunkard’s rant”?). Tizzy can totally take it, but I’m pissed. Look, NONE of us on Fem2 tolerate Rape Culture, whether in a single movie or a series. It’s hard to understand if you have a penis (not that you do, just sayin), but a simple walk down the street can turn into a festival of harassment for a woman — verbal, physical, etc. And that harassment DOES lead to sexual violence. And this movie (and, hey, possibly the series) eroticized rape in a way that makes it look like it was “legitimate” — e.g. the woman wanted it. No defense for that in any genre except, perhaps, appropriately packaged porn.

    • BrittanyLouis

      The fuck are you even talking about? Maggie in NO WAY wanted to be raped. (She wasn’t raped, but she was terrorized). She was stoic and strong. When he threatened her after making her take her clothes off, she said “You do what you have to do” because she was willing to DIE to save her people. The point of the scene in this show was to show the viewers that the Governor is a BAD MAN. A BAD MAN who would fuck his girlfriend and then step into a room and threaten to rape another woman that he KNOWS is her friend and then go back and fuck his girlfriend again. That happened last week, and it was SCARY and it was SUPPOSED to be scary. It was a plot devise, not a ratings grab.

      That is not at ALL Daniel Tosh rape culture.

      I say this as a feminist AND a sexual assault victim, I am not for censoring everything under the sun because it hurts someone’s feelings. There is a thin line between glamorizing rape and using it as a device in your story. The TV show Revolution has a threatened rape pretty much every episode. So much so that it’s annoying and I stopped watching. Direct your ire to them. They use the threat of rape so often it’s already tired and has lost it’s scariness. The walking dead depicted rape and the threat of rape as it is… frightening, scary, about someone’s power trip and horrible.

      • Badzoot

        You should be writing this blog.

    • blueophelia

      What ‘movie’ are you talking about? That and your claim that it looked like Maggie wanted it makes me wonder if you’ve actually seen the Walking Dead episode in question, or if you’ve got it confused with something else.

    • Goldie333

      Did you even watch the episode?? Please tell me how exactly the scene was eroticised and how exactly Maggie ‘wanted’ the governor to assault her. Is an attractive woman taking her top off automatically erotic? I find this and the author’s interpretation of the scene much more offensive than the scene itself, which was chilling/terrifying and uncomfortable. It’s disingenuous to suggest that you can’t portray rape because sexual harassment is a reality. People don’t blindly ape what they see on TV, and if you actually watched the series you’d see the scene the same way the rest of us normal people saw it!

  • Veronica

    Yes, I reacted to that scene too. It was very unnecessary. I couldn’t care less if it’s worse in the comics. That is irrelevant.

  • Shattered_Myths

    They of course, owe no such apology. The remote control gives you power. If the content continues to entertain, continue watching. If the content makes you uncomfortable, feel free to find something else to watch on the 200+ channels, PVR, streaming services and everywhere else you can find entertainment these days.

  • for it

    I feel like Dexter is unfortunately turned this way as well this season

  • BrittanyLouis

    1) THe walking dead is NOT a show about Killing zombies. It is a show about a small group of survivors dealing with the horror of the undead and the horrors of a lawless world. You will see in the coming seasons that EVERY group that you meet in the Walking Dead world is more fucked up than the rest. In the game, some people on a farm were EATING survivors. In the comics you meet a gang that beats in one of our beloved group until he has no head left. That’s YOUR mistake that you thought this show wasn’t intense.

    2) This was not at ALL a sneak attack. In the books Michonne is repeatedly raped in the cell next to Glenn. Her rape is SO horrible that it traumatizes Glenn for the rest of the series. Michonne, the already ruthless woman breaks free and cuts off his arm with her Katana, she also cuts out his eye for effect. Maggie was humiliated, but at least she didn’t get the book treatment.

    3) This was absolutely NOT erotic. This was important and NECESSARY to show that the governor is NOT a good man. They have Eroticized Andrea to the point where she bangs anything with power, but that scene was about removing the power from Glenn and Maggie. He brought her into Glenns room minus a top because he wanted to show Glenn that HE could do anything to Maggie and there was nothing either of them could do about it. In all honesty, this was WORSE than seeing an actual rape because it was indicative of what men who are rapists are trying to do to women. Remove our power.

    Now because I read the novel I was prepared but I don’t know HOW a tv show that shows people INNARDS being splashed in someone’s face lets you know that they’re not going to go there. You know what? I have feels about these kinds of things from my own assault, but I also have some feels and trauma when it comes to cancer too. I don’t get mad at TV because they show cancer survivors or talk about people dying from cancer. The SECOND you saw what was going to happen to Maggie you have the option to change the channel. You should have turned it off if it bothered you.

    • Shazz

      The author of this article doesn’t know anything about the walking dead…Just because they used a pretty actress doesn’t mean they’re “eroticising rape”. I don’t think the governor would ask to take Carol to take her top off if she happened to be there; the story had to be a young character for it to make sense. This article is stupid.

  • ah123abc

    The fact that you characterized this as ‘eroticized’ and ‘sexy’ speaks more about you than what the scene is about. I think the majority of us viewers shared the same disgust in the scenario rather than the threat of rape itself. And rape, unfortunately, is being used in conflict as a weapon against women. So why is it necessary to white wash reality when the show is trying to depict the moral depravity of a world in survival mode? As for warnings, are you suggesting any disturbing matter should be forewarned? The show itself is disturbing for those who might fight gore and violent acts hard to swallow. There is a disclaimer in the beginning. Did you want a list of what sort of scene one might expect in each episode? If you don’t like it, stop watching. But it’s disingenuous to say all portrayal of rape in media is wrong and misogynist because it happens in real life. Better to show how despicable it is than to pretend it doesn’t happen. AMC and TWD didn’t do anything of the sort you suggested. From what I read, these are your issues not the show’s or the rest of us who were repulsed by that scene but who don’t go far as saying any scene showing sexual trauma is profiteering. That suggestion, in my opinion, is sicker than the fact that rape was written into part of the plot. By the way, this season’s tag line is ‘Fight the Dead. Dear the Living.’ Or maybe that isn’t specific enough for you that you require the script to be posted ahead of time for vetting purposes?

  • John Mortimer

    How in all hell was that “eroticized”, I’m sorry but if anyone saw that scene and the word that first came to mind is “erotic” then I recommend they seek therapy immediately.

    That was in no way erotic, it was terrifying and awful and, I think, a fairly realistic portrayal of how sexual violence is used against women even if the surrounding context -a zombie apocalypse- is profoundly unrealistic.

    If anything The Walking Dead should be applauded for doing it so well, for not shying away and trying to soften it for the audience.

    Anything else would have been cowardly, pandering to patriarchal culture and inconsistent with the tone of the show.

    There’s plenty of things to be offended by on cable TV, how you managed to pick this one is beyond me.

  • Kristy

    Thanks for writing this. My husband and I have been hooked on this show since season 1, but I got up and left the room last week as soon as I saw where this scene was going. Rape for ratings just pisses me off. Rape is a traumatizing subject that affects many, many women—if you want to portray it on film or tv I expect the material to be treated with respect. AMC spent episode after episode dealing with the disintegrating relationship between Rick and Shane that explains the full impact of the violence between them. But Maggie’s almost-rape? A blip on the radar.

    I watch The Walking Dead because I like zombies and post-apocalyptic fantasy. I don’t watch it to have my bruises punched by a society where people still think it’s more important to tell rape survivors to “get over it or change the channel” than it is to actually do anything about ending rape.

  • Lauren Schultz

    Nakedness does not equal erotic. I don’t know what scene you were watching but I thought it was terrifying and tension-filled. My boyfriend also watched the series and found nothing “erotic” or sexy about it.

    Rape is a weapon. It’s not about sex, it’s about power so even if the Govenor did rape Maggie, it would have been to demonstrate that he holds the power in this situation.

  • GraceB

    The way you saw that scene was so wrong it’s laughable

  • blueophelia

    In what way is this eroticized? In what way was that a ‘sexy striptease’?

    Had the scene instead featured the badass black woman or the domestic violence survivor instead of the ‘pretty girl’, would you have interpreted it as eroticized/sexy?

    Are you a regular viewer of the show who feels it’s taken a bad turn with this episode, or did you merely catch this one scene and decide, with no other context, that it must be a cheap ploy for ratings?

  • Jaan Q

    1- If you found that erotic, there’s something wrong with YOU. As a man I found it creepy as all hell.

    2- There is a trigger warning, right at the beginning of the show. It says “sensitive people go away” or words to that effect.

    3- Stop with the every sentence is a separate paragraph thing. That was already played out by 1996. It makes you read like a Jr High student.

  • Badzoot

    You should probably watch something before you choose to criticize it. It makes you look less ignorant. You could learn a lot from BrittanyLouis. She’s got her head on straight.

  • bellafigura1

    Uh, how is a threatened rape in this lawless landscape “gratuitous”? Do you know what gratuitous means? How is AMC “greedy” by using the rape threat, but not the actual torture scenes? How about the child-killer? I mean really, to focus on the rape threat is laughable. Wouldn’t that be kinda status-quo in the post-apocalypse landscape? And on what planet was that “highly-eroticized”? There was nothing sexy about Maggie clutching to cover her breasts — maybe you need to blink back that feminist gaze a bit.

  • Wuxi

    This Jezebel piece makes some interesting points about use of rape as a plot device – generally, and on basic cable.

  • Snippy

    It’s great that so many people love this series and fully understand the context of the scene. One of the horrifying things about rape is that it, also, is nuanced, can showcase how bad people are, and that the nature of it can be interpreted very differently depending on where you’re sitting. So, to me, the series apologists are missing the point by showing their deep understanding of the series and attacking the author for this piece. She was triggered by the scene, period. She has the right to write about it.

  • Damir Al-Kattan

    ” But inserting a gratuitous and highly eroticized attempted rape scene into this week’s episode to court “shock’n’awe ratings” was fucking wrong, and you owe the women of America an apology.”

    Every army, in every war since dawn of men has used rape as way to demoralise and fear the enemy,the way to demote them to ”lesser beings”. Humiliation, hurt, emotional breakdown, way to destroy family values inc.
    In this way, Governor states himself complete master of situation, because he shows both Glen and Maggie he ”owns” them, and he can torture them w.o killing anyone, thus putting them in his control. Its hard to think of any more effective way to do this.
    It certainly wasnt gratuitous, if you wanted to see semi-realistic view on how apocalipse would look like – it aint pritty, same as human nature aint pritty, if it doesnt have any rules to obbey.
    Rape in zombie apocalipse culture is, by every mean, common action. It shows that huge number of male population, given the chance, w.o any punishment of the society behind their back, would take any women they find attractive. Im not saying everyone would do that, but it doesnt take big leap of imagination to think about hooligans, gang members, junkies, criminals, sick minds etc that would rape anything they can given the chance.

    Erotic? You should watch it again, im male and i had to look other way, i certainly didnt want to see rape, and i for sure didnt want to see it happend to char in series i liked. But, can i imagine, in that situation, that she would get raped? Yes , idd i can. Actually, she would most likelly be victom of gang rape of all soldiers there if it was 100% realistic enviroment. Was it erotic? No. Just no. Hell no.

  • Chris Lamb

    I love how people being torn to shreds and dying in terrible ways it absolutely unquestionably fine. But You hint at someone might get raped in the apocalypse and feminist rage boils over….

    Seriously, stop watching it. Problem solved.

  • D

    Talk about blowing something out of proportion

    “Your “rape-fest for ratings” sneak attack on this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead” pissed me off. Ever heard of a trigger warning, assholes?”

    AMC doesn’t cater to your personal tastes. I suggest just getting rid of your television if you expect them to warn you before something might show up on screen that might effect you.

    Its obvious something happened to Tizzy Giordano in the past. And I have this to say to her: Get help, stop taking your aggression out on the internet and making wild accusations about TV shows promoting rape culture just because you were once raped and haven’t dealt with the experience internally yet.

  • I agree

    How about I just don’t to want to see a girl being raped on TV? I’m pretty sure AMC is basic cable right? How about we save that shit for rated R movies so I know what Im getting in to…Also how about the fucking show being rated MA for language gore and FUCKING RAPE. Nope, that didn’t seem important enough to have a dedicated warning.