The Oscars last Sunday threw a somewhat unexpected spotlight on the issue of sexual assault. Best Picture Spotlight is famously the true story of journalists covering the cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Room is about a girl who is raped and imprisoned and ultimately escapes with her son. A Girl in the River, winner for best documentary short, is about honor killings—something that is intimately tied to the sexual control of women. And Lady Gaga’s much discussed performance was of a song about surviving rape, featured in a movie about campus rape, The Hunting Ground.
In general, when awards shows and sexual assault go together, there’s a kind of gawky, almost porny pandering. Pat ourselves on the back for giving an acting award to the rape victim—yes, I’m looking at Joanne Froggatt, who has done very fine work on Downton Abbey, but who won her Golden Globe for getting raped on the show.
But that’s not what we saw Sunday night. What we saw was respect for survivors, and the will to change.