April is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Watching soaps today, alone, would make you question, 1 – whether writers were aware of the significance of this month, 2 – if they would care if they were aware of it. According to RAINN, every 2 minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. Click the RAINN symbol to learn more about SAAP month, and to find events taking place in your local area. Today, on almost every soap left on air, a woman was nearly sexually assaulted, emotionally assaulted, or physically assaulted – almost none for the sake of furthering a discussion about sexual and other violent assaults. Almost all for the sake of ‘entertainment’. Check the ratings, writers, we – your primarily female audience, are not amused or entertained by such storylines.
1. Days of Our lives. I’ve thought of EJ as a coward for quite a long time. Today’s episode just made things a heck of a lot worse. If your father is a murderous psychopath and you’re quickly following in his footsteps, then it makes sense that you don’t care to protect your partner in crime from your father’s tyrannical wrath. It makes you appear to be less human, as well. Too busy trying to cover his own arse, EJ has made no moves to stop others from thinking of Anna as a vile kidnapper who tormented a young infant girl for months after she’d already lost the only mother she’d ever known. If you were watching today’s episode, you witnessed Stefano Dimera, EJ’s father, physically assault his former daughter-in-law, his deceased son’s wife. Tony might have killed Stefano for slapping his wife.
The excuse is supposed to be, I’m sure, that Stefano had no idea that Anna wasn’t alone in kidnapping his granddaughter when he slapped her. My response? WHO CARES!?!?! She as alone, half dressed and defenseless against him and the goons he brought with him. That scene was heartbreaking from beginning to end. It was in fact EJ, the child’s father, who concocted the scheme and convinced Anna to become his partner in crime. It was his son EJ, who got the ‘bright’ idea to cover the child’s clothing in blood and make everyone think the infant had been murdered. Will Stefano slap him across the face? Will he have his son dragged off with threats of death? Is that behavior reserved only for women ‘who have it coming’?
While EJ sat home, basking in the glow of being complimented for being a ‘great dad’, Anna was being slapped around, manhandled by Stefano’s goons, and had to plead for her life, as Stefano promised her that she would not be alive much longer. DAYS has done a lot of things right, but this was dead wrong and made it clear how parasitic the Dimera men’s relationships with women are. EJ professes love, two children later, to the woman he raped at gunpoint, and while he sat with her trying to convince her he was a new man, Anna faced violence and certain death.
2. The Bold and the Beautiful. I watched the last 10 minutes of the show, today – apparently ten minutes too many! It was a continuation of Donna Logan Forrester being treated as if she was disposable by her husband, Eric Forrester. This follows an earlier discussion in which he screamed at her in front of his ex wife and his former sister-in-law (both of whom have attacked Donna physically and verbally). Earlier he’d faulted Donna for never being on his side – a full-throated lie. He’s clearly ‘finished’ with Donna and finds excuses to scream and yell at her, including faulting Donna for her brother-in-law’s partnership with his WILLING ex-wife, who helped weaken his company before Bill Spencer bought it out from from under him. Eric accepts no responsibility for being a lousy businessperson. He also gives Donna ZERO credit for being willing to deceive her own sister to help him get his company back. He screams at her, demeans her, and then she returns home to beg for his forgiveness for not being tolerant enough of his needs. If she was a friend of mine in a marriage like that, I would be advising her on thinking about how to get out of it, or at least how to protect herself from a man like Eric Forrester.
3. One Life to Live. Schuyler Joplin has been just about as perfect a man as one can be in daytime. He’s thoughtful, loving, kind, and patient… which means that when he had to be torn down to prop the show’s resident snooze producing couple – the writers took the lowest possible route to try to make him unlikable to fans. His soap day started with him being a loving father who only wanted the best for his child. He finds out the child he’s been loving isn’t his and just a few hours later he’s holding Gigi Morasco hostage at gunpoint, trying to force her to undress so they can have sex and he could prove to her that they still have a special relationship. He doesn’t want to be alone.
Soaps use to write rape storylines to sway fans’ sympathy in the direction of ‘bad girls who needed redeeming’. Now they use rape as a way of trying to sway fans’ ire at male characters they want to get rid of — most of the time. Sometimes they decide that the rapist isn’t all that bad and try to redeem him or try to get the audience to accept his attempt to get his victim to fall in love with him. It’s that sort of clumsy and careless storytelling that makes soap fans ashamed of the genre.
4. General Hospital. Kristina, after ignoring Ethan’s pleas to not allow the entire town, most especially her murderous mob father, believe that he’d beaten her up- as he was innocent – was beaten again today by her boyfriend, Kiefer. I’d watched DAYS’ Anna being slapped around, DAYS’ Sami talking about her lovelife with her rapist, OLTL’s Gigi held at gunpoint and potentially raped, BnB’s Donna beg forgiveness for being treated poorly, and then Kristina. I am emotionally drained and most especially because it’s clear that daytime writers still don’t get it.
As usual, the storyline hasn’t been about this poor teenage girl who is being harmed, it’s about the adults around her – her mother who took the time to run down her attacker with her car while on the way to the hospital to get help for Kristina, her angry mob boss father, Ethan -the wrongfully accused… but very little about the survivor.
I’m hoping we’ll see more of Kristina, in therapy to learn that it’s not her fault she’s been attacked, or that we’ll get to see her confront Kiefer and make him realize how badly he’s hurt her. As I’ve written about before, it would be best to see HIM in therapy – helping him figure out why he’s so violent towards women.
Soaps do a lot with the ‘assault’ part, nothing much with the ‘prevention’. Were women victims of assault and violence on the other two soaps? Probably, I’m just glad I missed it – I’ve had more than my fill in just a single day. It’s depressing.