CFP – Screening #TimesUp: Exploring Rape Culture in Hollywood Film

Beginning in 2017, the #MeToo movement drew attention to the sexual assault, coercion, and harassment experienced by many individuals and especially women working in Hollywood. Over the last two years, actors have come forward to speak about their experiences, condemning the industry for silencing victims while safeguarding predators. This conversation about sexual conduct and safe working spaces has extended into other fields/industries via the #TimesUp movement as greater awareness is being raised about abuse of power and the victimization of employees. While Hollywood is serving as a microcosm for broader social discussions about sexual assault, coercion, and harassment in the workplace, less attention is being directed towards film content—i.e. the products being produced by said industry. As a global cinema, Hollywood creates some of the most profitable films that are widely screened not only in the United States but also across the world. Culture binds individuals and institutions together, shapes public consciousness, and sends powerful messages about what is to be considered appropriate conduct. Over the last 100 years, Hollywood has played a key role shaping social ideas associated with gender, sex, and power. 

A consideration of sexual violence in Hollywood film—be it real, threatened, or suggested—is the focus of this anthology. Sexual assault, coercion, and harassment are so pervasive in Hollywood narratives that they often go unnoticed. For instance, rape revenge is not only an exploitation subgenre but also a storyline featured in horror, thriller, road, and criminalist films. The threat of sexual assault is used as a trope to convey the vulnerability of even the strongest and most muscular female heroes in action films while the depiction of sexual harassment and aggression in relation to class differences and workplaces is a frequent narrative element. Moreover, sexual harassment is often depicted as romantic when a rejected “suitor” continues to pursue/stalk their target. Sexual coercion plays a central role in spy films as agents manipulate, intoxicate, and/or force their informants/targets to have sex with them sometimes secretly filming the encounter. And in some cases, filmmakers with a known history of sexual violence continue to work in the industry and produce films that relay troubling messages about appropriate sexual conduct. These films, tropes, and practices work to normalize and naturalize aspects of rape culture oftentimes at the expense of marginal/minority groups.

We are calling for papers exploring any facet of sexual assault, coercion, and harassment in Hollywood film. Some topics include but are not limited to:

  • tropes of sexual violence in specific genres (e.g. rape revenge, action, rom-coms, etc.)
  • historical considerations of sexuality and rape (e.g. classical Hollywood, new Hollywood, etc.) 
  • filmmakers who employ excessive/frequent images of sexual violence
  • shifting representations of sexual harassment
  • affirmative consent in film
  • narratives in which rape is justified (e.g. prisoner on prisoner)
  • romanticizing of inappropriate sexual contact (e.g. with minors)
  • myth of the artistic genius 
  • rape jokes/gags in film
  • sexual violence against marginal/minority groups (based on race, sexual orientation, class, ability, gender expression, etc.)

Please submit a 250 word abstract along with a brief author bio to Lisa Funnell (lisa.m.funnell@gmail.com) by April 30. Please direct any questions to this email as well.

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