*SPOILERS! DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED EPISODE 8*
While most of the fans seemed to have calmed, some in the media still seem to be out for blood when it comes to the Poldark episode 8 “rape scene”. I would highly recommend that they let it go due to their sensationalizing it and due to the fact that they are slightly putting it out of context. Whether of not it was or was not rape is up to the viewer, and I cannot make that determination for them and they cannot make that determination for me. However, what we can do is go over the scene and some thing that may have bearing on what happens in the scene.
First of all, language has changed since the 1940s and 50s when the books were written. It certainly has since the 18th century when the books are set. Language had quite a few more subtleties than it does today, and meaning for some things has certainly changed. No still means no, but in a second you will see what I am getting at. So Ross has had a bad couple of days. In all truth I don’t think I have seen that character be good at anything. He was bad at delinquency, soldiering, mining, and now being a husband. Still we were sort of willing to forgive all that because he was sort of the champion for the common man, and there were few enough of those in that era. He represented the man who was willing to fight for the common man. He did some really stupid things in order to do some but did so nonetheless.
So we have Ross and his “bad days”. He then learns that his former love, Elizabeth, is about to marry his mortal enemy (yes, he has mortal enemies. I wonder if he keeps a list like Sheldon Cooper?) George Warleggen. He is incensed by this because he knows that Elizabeth is doing this just to raise his ire. So he goes to her house in the dead of night and starts banging on the doors. It would have been good at that point if she had gone down stairs and met him in the drawing room if she didn’t want him in her bedroom. She knew he was there, heard him clearly, was not worried that he was there. Even Aunt Agatha knew he was there. So things might have played out differently if she had gone down to meet him.
Then he goes up stairs and finds her in her room. He does not come in at first, she tells him to wait while she gets a candle and they go down stairs. However, he comes in. She does not stop him. If she had wanted him out of there she would have said something to the point of, “What, are you deaf from banging your head on rocks too many times in the mine?! Downstairs!” If she had said that he probably would have gotten the message. He still would have been angry, but it would have played out differently.
Then she challenges him. And we’ll get to other challenges in a minute, but this is at least the second one. She asks his if he would do anything to keep her from being a widow for many long years? Note that her mother had just suffered a stroke, her husband had just died, and Ross was her first love. A man she probably would have married if she had known he was coming back from the war (the American Revolution). Basically she is saying, “will you provide for me and my child, despite the fact that you are still married?” That in itself is scandalous since she is suggesting that he either divorce or commit adultery, neither of which people in the era, or god at the time would look kindly upon.
Then their frustrations boil over, he kisses her and she doesn’t respond well. She says, “you would not dare.” Now what is the operative word we need to be looking at there, kids? That’s right, “dare”. A dare is a challenge, and this is in fact the third challenge she has given him. And probably when she says dare, it really means, “I wonder if he will?” Let’s talk about these challenges for a moment. The first one was where she tells him, “downstairs” and he comes into the bedroom anyway. That’s the first, “I wonder if he will?” The second is when she encourages him to be her mate, “I wonder if he will?” The third is when she says, “you would not dare.” Yes this is a challenge, it is also quite different from, “no, I don’t want to”, or , “please don’t, I don’t want to,” or in fact anything like that.
The he throws her on the bed and starts kissing her and she kisses him passionately and continually back. That doesn’t happen with rape. It would be at this point that she would try and push him off, kick him, bite him, scream for Aunt Agatha who has a gun, or could certainly go out and find help. Aunt Agatha knows what’s happening! She’s basically in the next room! So what I see is a man and a woman engaging in what happens after years of watching and wanting. Suffering ad frustration. Acknowledging that they would have been with each other if things had been different. This isn’t the terrible thing some think it is. It’s people being human, for goodness sake!
The the next day Ross gets his freakin’ pants on, and they have a perfectly rational conversation about the consequences of THEIR actions. A lot of what I see on Elizabeth’s face there is guilt. She has had sex with a man she’s not married to, she’s caused her former love to commit adultery (both taboos and no-nos), and they have both betrayed Ross’s wife, Demelza who lost her first child caring for Elizabeth and her family when they were ill.
So there you have it. There is my analysis.
Recently I was in a Twittersation (yes, that’s what I call them), where I found something really, really offensive and sort of went off. Someone later said to me, “don’t be so reactive, you lose your voice”. This is very much true. While you may be a voice for women and rape victims, as I am, you can have a voice and be involved and helpful. However no one wants to hear a voice that is shouting rabidly in their ear. It doesn’t work out well and then no one listens to you because you’re just annoying.
Another thing that we need to be wary of is that when people find something offensive, that when a really dirty word comes into play. What’s that dirty word, kids? *puts hand to ear and listens intently* That’s right, censorship! The road to censorship is a slippery slope. Once it begins, it’s not pretty. When we go back to the days of abridging and burning books because they’re “offensive”. When we lose shows like Outlander, Game of Thrones, The Waling dead, even Supernatural, because they’re considered “offensive”. If there is anything we have learned from Russia, China, North Korea and other countries like it, it’s censorship = bad.
I am not saying that your point of view is invalid, I am not saying that you don’t have the right to feel the way you do. All I ask is that people have the same respect for me. Also the scene is ambiguous. There are several ways in which it can be interpreted. There’s not just your way, and you should just take the word of media sensationalism. In all truth I am not a great fan of Poldark. I find it exceedingly boring at times, but I felt I still had to speak. Thank you for listening.