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.
In the journalist’s approach to telling a story of the truth commission post-South Africa apartheid, we not only get the story of those affected via perpetrators and victims, but we also get an inside look into how these stories effected spectators as well. Krog provides accounts of both victims and perpetrators and provides her own account of how their stories affect her. With this, we get a perspective of someone who is not directly involved with crimes committed in a dark time for South Africans. Even Krog, an outsider to the apartheid, is heavily effected by the heinous ongoing of crimes that happened to so many innocent citizens. Krog writes,” No poetry should come forth from this. May my hand fall off if I write this. So I sit around. Naturally and unnaturally without words. Stunned by the knowledge of the price people have paid for their words. If I write this, I exploit and betray. If I don’t, I die,” (p.66). These lines give the reader a sense of what it was like for Krog to have been able to put these stories into a novel. It shows struggle within the mind of not knowing what to do with information that is not necessarily the business of Krog, but such a series of horrid injustices, that she wants the whole world to know about it. This internal struggle comes from how much Krog has involved herself with these stories and truly listened and felt sympathy for the citizens who have suffered so much loss. As a reader, one reads these stories that Krog tells of other people’s misfortunes and cannot help but to feel as if they have been punched in the gut. This novel is a telling of grievances written by someone who is doing their own grieving over the situation at a distance. Krog worries by writing what she does that she will exploit the pain of all of these people. By admitting this to the reader it is so clear that that is not at all the message she is giving when she writes of her own sorrows from listening to these people’s countless stories. Krog brings an emotional empathy for these people grieving. She writes, “It is not so much the deaths, and the names of the dead, but the web of infinite sorrow woven around them,” (p.45).
In this film, the grief of mothers seems to take on a large portion of what the audience sees. This grief that the mothers express is different and varies from mother to mother. In a sense, it is a universal grief that all of the mothers who lost their children experience as whole, but these ways of grieving are different for each and every mother. These women are seen grappling and coming to terms with knowing the perpetrators of the killing of their sons. One woman in the crowd at the trial is struck by the footage of seeing her own son’s death and goes into complete hysterics. She cannot believe she is watching the life of her own child be taken away right before her eyes. She feels this sorrow and loss intensely and shows that intensity with her frantic and emotional state. Not opposed to this, but in a different setting, other mothers of the men who were shot sit down with the cop who took part in killing their sons and ask him questions. They are sad and angry, but they are also willing to forgive. This willingness to forgive the man who played a role in the death of their sons shows the importance of allowing another man the same age as their sons live out his life. He sacrificed telling the truth and telling the real story to these women and for that reason it seems they do not hate him. Hate is not in these mother’s hearts. Their hearts are full of sorrow, confusion, loss, and this element of forgiveness. These women are not vengeful toward a man they would have a right to be vengeful against. This forgiveness they have for him shows the power of motherhood and how they can allow themselves to come to terms and not hold on to a feeling of hatred and anger. This forgiveness shows courageousness from these mothers who are grieving.
The victim in this play being a woman shows that even in a dictatorship, death is not the only injustice that needs to be brought to the attention of the government. Paulina has had to live 15 years of her life dealing with these unspeakable acts and not being able to do anything about it. Women in this text are poked fun at plenty of times, and it seems that the theme of not believing women is prevalent here. Men suffered violence and death as well, but Paulina had her dignity forever stripped of her and these memories have never left her. The system, even a democratic one, is always flawed when it comes to believing women when they claim rape. This idea that even the person she considers closest to her doesn’t believe her exemplifies that idea that nobody ever believes women when they talk about rape and that idea that the system put in place would rather have them be silenced. Gerardo takes his wife’s perpetrator’s side, and on multiple occasions insists that women are crazy. Gerardo says, ” You know women…,” on p.14 of the text when referring to his wife. This statement was only the beginning of many other truths that Gerardo was to share on his opinion of women later on. Roberto says on page 18,” Of the two things you never share, my friend, one is your toothbrush.” This statement alludes to this other unsaid thing men do not share is women. This is ironic in both the senses that come to find out Roberto hadn’t only raped his wife, but when he had raped her, it had been with a group of men, therefore; sharing a woman. Centering women in the middle of all of this social disorder about injustice within the government and enacted by a truth commission shows how even after the dictatorship has ended, it seems women were still going to be denied that voice they needed in accusing their rapists. Paulina’s husband is involved in both matters personal and professional, as he’s on the commission board and he doesn’t support her in either aspect. It feels like it is Paulina against the world and she’s been living through a nightmare that will never be brought to justice, and even at the hands of a man who claims to love her she cannot find anyone to really and truly hear her.
Gender takes on a very important role in The Furies. In one of the two stories prefacing this one, the death of Iphigenia is the first death in the immediate family. Iphigenia is one of Agamemnon’s two daughters and she is the first to suffer death in the family. After her death comes the vengeful death of Agamemnon committed by his wife over her rage that he sacrificed their daughter. Now, does this not seem to be an eye for an eye? A life for a life? Yet, Oreste takes it upon himself to avenge his father’s death by killing his mother. This totals the family deaths out to 3. The saying is not an eye for an eye for an eye. This death of his mother brings a sort of imbalance in the way women’s deaths are treated vs. the way men are. It goes to say that one man’s death equals the death of two women. And if Oreste had killed his father, the ruling may have been more straightforward and to the point. His father was a mighty warrior and his mother was just that; a mother. Athena even takes the side of Oreste and her vote is what saves him from being the 4th death in his family. Because she was born from the head of Zeus and has no mother, she sympathizes with Oreste.
The furies themselves are also women and seen as old detesting hags. This gives another harsh perspective on older women and categorizes them as grotesque creatures. Their names being “the furies” shows an anger and ill temper in women, as if they are always seemingly furious. Because these furies have never bore children, which is what it seems that every mortal woman’s purpose is, they are now hags. Women who never did their one duty in life and they are now cast out of society and seen as evil, relentless women.
Gender matters very much in this play because there is an obvious power struggle between the killings of daughters, husbands, and mothers. Yet, the mother is the only one who did not kill someone of her same bloodline. The female deaths vs. the male deaths definitely send a message of inferiority and unimportance in women and superiority and power with men.