Election Fallout: Last night, in major cities across the U.S., thousands of people turned out in protest against the election of Donald Trump. The protests ranged from peaceful candlelight vigils to more destructive demonstrations, particularly in California, where freeways were shut down and cars and effigies burned in Oakland and L.A. The protesters’ point: that Trump, with his history of racist and sexist rhetoric, does not represent the American people. That’s true in some ways: Though there is no question that Trump’s election is legitimate, he won—as many other presidents have won—by very narrow margins, and he is currently losing the popular vote after securing the Electoral College. Though that fact might be painful to millions of Americans, they can take this comfort: Split and troubled as it’s been, their nation has not changed.
Real-life survivors might struggle to find their experiences reflected accurately in the “shock-and-arouse” approach of shows such as Game of Thrones, which rely on titillation or use rape as a cheap plot device. Law & Order: SVU often depersonalizes sexual assault by treating it either as ripped-from-the-tabloids fodder or as a chance to illuminate political issues like the rape-kit backlog. Shows like Jessica Jones and The Americans have worked toward a more authentic, survivor-oriented depiction of life after rape—but they refract the experience through the fantastical lenses of superhero and spy genres. This approach may make for compelling television, but has an element of wish fulfillment that feels alien to many survivors, who must move through a more mundane world in their recovery.
So it’s ironic that perhaps the best drama to explore the trauma of sexual assault is a show that, unlike SVU or Game of Thrones, very few people watch: SundanceTV’s Rectify.
Keep reading here, as Bogart examines Rectify’s nuanced portrayal of a wrongfully convicted man returning to his hometown after a stint on death row during which he was raped by fellow prisoners.
What Do You Know?
1. The three species of mammals that are known to carry leprosy are humans, red squirrels, and ____________.
We’d like to hear your stories from your own working life. If you’ve made a big leap between industries, what motivated the switch? If you’ve had major changes in your personal life that affected your job, how did you cope? Please send us a brief note via firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll post some of the responses as part of an upcoming project.
Your summary of the election was a disappointment to read. Your condescending attitude toward Trump and his supporters is EXACTLY why so many of us “deplorables” voted for Trump. You honestly do not see your own biases, do you? I am a college-educated (MA) voter and, although Trump was not my first choice in the primaries, I can see why his message resonated with so many Americans. You need to get out of your office and start talking with Americans outside your small world of liberal friends and co-workers. Then perhaps you will see why people are so angry with the media. You are a perfect representation of those biases.
Many thanks to this reader for reaching out, and for his gracious reply in this followup message:
I can’t tell you how surprised and impressed I was with your response to my email. You may include my response in your newsletter if you would like. I personally struggled with my decision to vote for Trump, but after having spent 10 days recently in Japan where the only access to news I had was [a cable news network and a national newspaper], I couldn’t help but be chagrined at the one-sidedness of the news I heard and read. I am sure I am not the only one who felt that the media were so stacked against Trump and his supporters that we felt compelled to vote for him if nothing else than as a way of expressing our utter contempt for the press. I hope The Atlantic will try harder to show both sides in a fair and unbiased manner. Again, thank you for your kind response.
I’d like to share with you all what I wrote to him: that I do take these concerns very seriously, and I see how my personal reactions during the very tense race on election night may have been reflected in my summary of The Atlantic’s coverage. As I wrote in last night’s newsletter, the goal I believe in right now is to move forward from what has been, and still is, a period of deep division in this country. We’ll be doing our best to make sense of those fissures in our coverage in the weeks ahead.
As the reader above suggests, we’re less divided insofar as we can discuss these issues and ideas. To all our readers, then: I’m grateful to you for joining us in this discussion. And I hope that by your reading and writing, you’ll continue to take part.