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Not Believing Women in Literature and Film

In the TV series Unbelievable there is a serial rapist praying on women across counties who two detectives spend extensive time and resources to find. This series focuses on women and their experiences with rape and the women who are trying to catch the man who raped them. The first character introduced, Marie Adler, is not believed by loved ones and police about her rape. She is made to feel like her voice doesn’t matter and like she has to keep this tragedy that happened to her a secret. This situation Marie faces is very similar to the one Paulina faces in Death and the Maiden. These stories both focus on a key concept of not believing women. Another play that Unbelievable relates to is The Furies. In both of these works of stories, women play strong leading roles and come together as strong female forces in finding truth and solutions when faced with crime. Whether the motive is to catch a criminal or to build a better system in society, women are seen in both of these stories to be in the driver’s seat solving problems created by men.

    In Unbelievable Marie Adler is the first victim shown to the audience who is dealt a terrible hand in the way she is treated by police. She is harassed and made to feel incompetent by the two officers who convince her that she has made up the rape entirely. Through the series the audience sees her struggle emotionally with a weight on her shoulders she shouldn’t have to carry. As if having to deal with the aftermath of being raped isn’t enough, she also has to deal with not being believed by anyone and feeling as if she must suppress and hide all of her emotions about it. In Death and the Maiden Paulina deals with not being believed by her husband. Due to what is going on politically in this story with their society and amnesty trials, Paulina feels she will never get justice unless her husband’s new high-ranking position could help bring one of her rapists to stand trial for his crimes against her. Her husband leaves her without hope of any justice when it is made clear that he thinks she is wrong and fixated on blaming someone innocent for what happened to her. Marie Adler also feels as if she will never get justice due to the inability of the police to help her. The goal of the police in the simplest of terms is to protect and Marie instead receives callousness and manipulation by men in uniforms who she thought she could trust. Both women are facing a battle in which the system will not bring justice to either of them. Marie struggles with this burden of being assaulted and then deemed a liar for years and Paulina deals with the burden of being assaulted and not being believed by her own husband.

    Unbelievable also relates to the play The Furies where in both stories, women seem to hold the power and strength in problem solving. In Unbelievable, the two female detectives put their heads together into uncovering a serial rapist and finding out who he is. They not only solve this mystery of who the serial rapist is, but they also brought to light that Marie Adler was telling the truth. They uncover this truth that was buried and forgotten about by the two male detectives who had made Marie feel as if she was lying. Their finding and convicting the rapist brings justice to what happened to the victims as well as justice to Marie in feeling solidified in her feelings about what happened to her and how to deal with it. In The Furies, the Furies and Athena seem to play the role of deciding the fate of a crime committed by Orestes. This is a crime against a woman committed at the hands of a man just as in Unbelievable. Orestes commits matricide and Athena and the Furies argue about his punishment, whether he should be sentenced to death or pardoned for his crime. The Furies and Athena put their heads together in deciding what to do in this predicament. These women turn their disagreement of Orestes fate into a compromise where the Furies benefit from a relationship with Athena as she grants them power in their society rather than be outcasts of it as they were before. In both the tv series and play, women are seen coming together to compromise and problem solve for the greater good of other people. Athena and the Furies come to an agreement to work together in helping the citizens of Athens while the two detectives put their heads together in finding a serial rapist and helping his victims get the justice they deserve.

One thought on “Not Believing Women in Literature and Film”

  1. A really interesting (and potentially counterintuitive) connection to The Furies here. I would observe that in Dorfman’s play it is important that Gerardo never expresses any doubt *that* Paulina was raped, even if he has more difficulty being convinced that her identification of Roberto as the rapist is correct.


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