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Feminism on Law and Order SVU

nia.pike's picture

**trigger warning**

Law and Order SVU, is one of my guilty media pleasures. Every week, I find an hour for me to indulge in this show. This evening, while catching up on last week's episode, I saw it through a directly feminist lens. SVU brings to light during prime time television (on a national network no less) many issues that face women in a  way that many may not be aware of. For example, one episode opens with a woman trying to purchase Plan B at a pharmacy because her husband had raped her. The pharmacist denies her the medicine, thus denying her the choice of pregnancy. Women are still forced to have their rapist's baby because other people, not involved in the situation involve themselves in the situation, indirectly making decisions for those involved. The ability of a pharmacist to deny a woman access to medicines she is entitled to have is an unfortunate way-of-life that many are not aware of. Plan B is an invaluable resource. And everyone who wants it should have access to it. Another episode shed light on the prevalent rape of women in the military. A female Marine was impregnated by a rape by an officer in a higher rank, which does occur in the United States military, and is usually swept under the rug. But the team at SVU fought to bring the rapist to justice. Also the main character in the series is Olivia Benson, a detective who has a personal connection to the rape victims at SVU because she, herself is also a victim.

SVU brings to light a lot of issues that affect women which a lot of people might know about, but do not want to admit are happening. We have talked previously in class about making feminism accessible. A television show during prime time on a national network is highly accessible. But what does this high level of accessibility sacrifice in compromise? What do y'all think about the projection of feminism through the lens of Law and Order SVU? Feminism through the media's version of rape and assault?


Polly's picture

Have you seen the mini series

Have you seen the mini series "Lauren" on the youtube channel Wigs? It is about a rape case in the military. It is a very emotionally moving story and it completely shocked me, because I didn't know about the injustices that are occurring in our military. I think that these accessible shows are good because they can bring to light issues that are not going to be publicized otherwise.

Faith, I understand and agree with your opinion that women should have the choice to have children and access to abortion. But, I believe what Garland-Thompson was saying about genocide is that some people will choose to abort a child that they were otherwise going to have after they find out that the baby is going to be born disabled through prenatal testing. These abortions are very similar to how a lot of female sexed babies are aborted, otherwise known as "sex-selective abortion." So aborting a disabled baby could perhaps be called "able-selective abortion."

Fdaniel's picture

Wow your analysis of Law and

Wow your analysis of Law and Order is really interesting. I have also begun to look at things through a feminist lens and have slowly begun to form my own opinions and thoughts about them. In the episode you discussed in your post: the scene with the female going to the pharmacy also reminded me of the readings we read this week. Especially about the comment Thompson made about aborting disabled children is a genocide. I find that comment completely absurd and once again taking away choice from women. Women should have complete control over their body and choice to have children. By calling it genocide is adding a negative connotation to it and is ultimately calling women murders and that’s wrong. Also to comment on the episode about rape in the military I watched a documentary in the summer called Invisible War. Invisible War discusses rape and sexual assault in the military and the long struggle women have faced in order to over come the event. It also highlights the hidden information about rape. More than 30% of women in the military get raped or sexually assaulted as opposed to men, which is about 1%. I’m pretty sure government officials won’t announce that information on national television. You should check out the documentary on Netflix or online it’s very insightful and eye opening. 

nia.pike's picture

I have seen Invisible War. I

I have seen Invisible War. I actually saw it this semester. Thanks for bringing it up, it's a fantastic documentary! National media loves celebrate the successes of our nation's military, but it refuses to shed light on its failures. One of which is the failure of our nation to keep our own soliders safe from each other. Our nation totes itself has having one of the best military program in the world and yet rape is a prevelant thing. The statistics for rape in the military are underestimated, because so many go undocumented because of fear. Law and Order gives a voice (an odd voice to say the least, but a voice nevertheless) to those too afraid to speak. By showing the rape of a member of our military on primetime national television, attention is brought to the issue. But it is not simply enough to bring light to the issue, a political game must be played. Invisible War spoke to this plight by illustrating the struggle of rape victims to bring about change in military policy through our corrupted political field.