‘A Promising Young Woman’ and others offer a sense of justice for survivors of sexual assault

Entertainment

FILE – In this Jan. 20, 2018 file photo, a marcher carries a sign with the popular Twitter hashtag #MeToo used by people speaking out against sexual harassment as she takes part in a Women’s March in Seattle. According to a study published Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, the first sexual experience for many U.S. women was forced or coerced intercourse in their early teens, encounters that for some may have had lasting health repercussions. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Crime sometimes pays in a popular genre that celebrates vengeance. 

A Promising Young Woman, starring Carey Mulligan, will be released Christmas Day and isn’t the traditional feel-good holiday story, which makes it perfect for the contemporary moment.

The film follows Mulligan’s character — a once aspiring doctor — on a mission to reclaim agency following sexual assault. Mulligan lures would-be Lotharios by feigning inebriation and playing incoherent up until the point that a sexual assault might occur. From there, the tables are turned and sheets twisted into new dynamics in which men fear vulnerability and assault. 

The film is one of many dramatic representations that uses crime and revenge through a social justice lens, underscoring the knowledge that the system often fails survivors of sexual assault.

According to RAINN, one in six women in the United States is the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault. One American is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds. 

The popularity of the genre comes as movies, TV and literature engage with survivors by offering a sense of solidarity and justice — even if it is fictional.

If A Promising Young Woman appeals to you, don’t miss our entertainment guide below. 

Movies

American Mary

A medical school student named Mary drops out after being sexually assaulted by a professor and mentor. Mary gets into the world of body modification by performing underground surgeries and decides to sharpen her skills on her abuser.

Black Christmas

A group of female students are stalked on their college campus during the holidays. After the University fails to take reports seriously, the group of women seeks justice — and the killer — for themselves. 

The Assistant

Jane, the young assistant to a powerful executive, starts noticing “routine” aspects of her job that seem questionable amid a rampant culture of sexism and sexual predation. 

TV

The Morning Show

A “Today Show”-style morning TV program is shaken after reports of sexual assault and misconduct by the main anchor, played by Steve Carrell. The women of the show, led by Jennifer Anniston, find themselves in a new and unique position to rewrite their roles and challenge the status quo in the media. 

I May Destroy You

A young woman in London named Arabella seeks to put her life back together after being raped. The show follows her as she struggles to make the deadline for her upcoming book while grappling with symptoms of trauma.

BoJack Horseman

The final season of the adult animated series challenges audiences to confront the bad behavior of likable characters. News breaks of Horseman’s long pattern of sexual predation and misconduct that echoes many of the truths revealed following the #MeToo movement. Through Horseman, viewers are given insight into the interiority of a predator’s pathological toxicity. 

Books

Alex by French master of detective fiction, Pierre Lemaitre, takes readers on a dark and twisted tour of Paris from the perspective of two very different characters. Alex is a beautiful and mysterious young woman who is kidnapped then suspended from the air in an animal cart. Commandant Camille Verhoven is sent to track down the missing woman before it’s too late and learns the truth behind the adage that “hurt people hurt people.”

Now You See Me by Sharon Bolton follows Lacey Flint as she becomes a suspect in a series of Jack the Ripper-style murders across London. Readers are taken on a journey of social justice as Flint seeks to support young survivors of sexual assault while trying to escape her own traumatic past. 

The Power by Naomi Alderman shows what might happen if women become the dominant gender. In the science fiction thriller, women develop the power to release electricity through their fingertips. The “power” is first awakened in young women, who then teach older generations how to access their own powers that start a revolution.

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