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The soap-opera double standard on men and rape

Earlier this week on The Bold and the Beautiful, Quinn and Liam kissed. That’s not usually a particularly big deal. It’s a soap. People kiss (and more) all the time. It’s kind of what folks watch soaps for. What made this kiss abnormally squicky (that’s a technical term; go with it), was that Liam has amnesia. He doesn’t remember that he hates Quinn for a variety of reasons. Little things like trying to kill him with a sword.

Right now, Liam thinks that his name is Adam. And that he’s married to Quinn. Whose name is Eve. She told him this, and is hiding Liam at her house. So that her son, Wyatt (who is also Liam’s half-brother), can have a clear shot at Liam’s ex-wife, Steffy, who thinks that Liam just abandoned her without a second thought.

See how the kissing becomes a bit problematic at this point?

Meanwhile, last week on Days of Our Lives, Steve slept with Ava. Again, not a particularly big deal on soaps. Except that Ava—who, after stringing along Steve’s teenage son, Joe, romantically, forced Steve to have sex with her in exchange for Ava revealing where she’d kidnapped and hidden Steve’s true love, his ex-wife Kayla. Now, Ava is threatening to tell Kayla “what Steve did,” if he doesn’t do whatever Ava says.

There is a word for what Ava did, and for what it sure does look like Quinn is about to do. It’s not a nice word. In fact, when I wrote a post about soap opera’s treatment of women who are raped, it prompted ex-Another World star Alicia Coppola to rebut my interpretation of events.

Actor Scott Clifton, who plays Liam on B&B, also disputes interpreting what Quinn is doing as rape, claiming on Twitter that it is, at most, fraud. Some fans agree with him; some don’t.

Opinion was also mixed on the case of DOOL‘s Sami and Austin. She drugged him and put on a wig so he would think he was making love to Sami’s sister, Carrie. Sami later claimed to be pregnant with his child.

On General Hospital, Jax was kidnapped by Irina (his brother Jerry’s ex). Irina bound and gagged Jax, tortured him, pistol-whipped him, threatened to kill his wife, Carly, then forced herself on him. When Carly found out, she went running to her best friend, Jason, to sob how let down she felt by Jax cheating on her. To cheer her up, Jason led Carly in a little giggle at the idea that a man could ever be violated by a woman. Then Jason promptly chastised Jax for sleeping around on Carly. The storyline was also part of a network-wide “Ultimate Betrayal” promotion, wherein Carly was the one betrayed by “Jax breaking his marriage vows.”

But the ultimate in unambiguous rape, though it was played as black comedy at the start, came with As the World Turns’ Julia—the first one, played by Annie Parisse, who ended up as the murdered ADA on Law & Order, and not the second one, played by Sarah Brown, who was the original Carly on GH. What can we say, it’s soap hopping! Julia kidnapped her ex-husband, Jack, tied him up in a straightjacket, plied him with Viagra, and raped him. She later tried to kill him (which is when the show finally conceded that the situation might not be all that funny).

When Julia showed up a year later with a baby she claimed was hers and Jack’s, Jack’s fiancée, Carly (not the one on GH, but played by Maura West, who is now on GH as Ava, a woman who had a baby with that Carly’s husband … though not the DOOL Ava currently tormenting Steve, who also only played Carly on GH. Got that?) wanted to know how Jack could have “let” Julia do that to him.

Anyone asking that of a female character would have been excoriated. Jack just stomped out the door. But then he came back. Carly did ultimately prove sympathetic to what he’d been through, and there was no more talk of it in any way being Jack’s fault.

Will history repeat itself on DOOL? Will Steve be the bad guy for betraying Kayla, or will she understand that he was trying to save her life? And if B&B‘s Quinn and Liam do go further than a kiss, will it be rape, fraud, or, as someone else commented on Twitter, just funny?

Let us know your thoughts!

(Note that this post only addressed soap-opera stories of men being raped by women. Men being raped by men is a separate topic.)

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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