We Have To Talk.
Promising Young Woman
If you haven't heard, there's a new movie out. I say new, because it is still showing in theaters, but it came out in December 2020. Promising Young Woman is an independent film that tells the story of a woman (Cassie) who was traumatized by an event in her past, and seeks revenge on those she comes into contact with. SPOILERS AHEAD****
The "event" in question, involves her best friend being raped by a peer in college, Cassie dropping out to take care of her, and then losing her to a suicide. The suicide is not explicitly confirmed in the film, but heavily implied. The "revenge" in question is absolutely genius. In my opinion. You see, Cassie's friend Nina was very drunk when she was taken advantage of. Unable to defend herself, in a compromising situation, surrounded by nasty frat boys who wanted to have some fun.
Cassie feels bad about not being there to help her, and not being able to "save her" from death, so she comes up with a way to cope while also attempting to teach nasty men a lesson.
She gets dressed up and goes to bars alone, acts like she is way to intoxicated to stand, waits for a "nice guy" to help her out, and stops them seconds before they do to her what was done to Nina. She humilates them, berates them, makes them feel like monsters, and warns them to never do it again. Beautiful. Clean. Not illegal or incriminating at all.
The Nice Guys
Let's talk about them. We all know them. I promise. Some of them are in your circles! Average dudes, fun, charming, charisma out the wazoo... my OC pals, you know them. They're everywhere. Don't allow yourselves to be fooled!
I think the director makes some genius moves in her casting of the men who turn out to be these "nice guys" with not-so-nice-intentions. Actors like Bo Burnam, Max Greenfield, and Adam Brody. These men play such loveable characters, are hilarious in other settings, and so they were cast in order to trick us. We love these men, so the minute they are exposed for what they actually are in the movie, we cringe. But this is so so true in reality, and it should make us cringe.
In the United States, 1 in every 6 women are raped per year. That may not sound like a lot in theory, but listen to these more terrifying numbers:
-Over 1.5 million women were raped by an intimate partner in 2019
-69% of rape victims are women between the ages of 12 and 34
-90% of rape victims are female
-An American is raped every 93 seconds
-For every 1,000 rapes, 995 abusers will go unpunished
Let's talk about that last one. This statistic is the BIGGEST reason why women will take their sexual assault to the grave. According to RAINN, (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) for every 1,000 rapes, 384 are reported to police, 57 result in an arrest, 11 are referred for prosecution, 7 result in a felony conviction, and 6 result in incarceration. Only. 6.
Can you imagine being one of those 378 women who go through the courts, the media coverage, the terror of everyone questioning their words, only to have their cases thrown out? To see their attackers walk free? Imagine being one of the 616 who live in silence forever...who never report..
Knowing what I know, knowing the people I know who have gone through sexual assaults, watching men get away with doing what they have done, and seeing women like AOC come forward with their stories of sexual assault, I CANNOT believe how quiet we are about this. I cannot believe we still allow men to get away with this anymore. I cannot believe we don't listen to the victims. Why are we dismissing stories? Why are we STILL not talking about this? How can we fix this?
I remember watching the final moments in this movie, next to David, and just not knowing how to feel. **MEGA spoilers ahead for real** When Cassie decides to confront Nina's rapist, I was encouraged. I was hyped UP for this scene. This guy was going to know that he was in trouble. Finally. Cassie was going to get closure! FINALLY.
Cassie rolls up to this guy's bachelor party, because of course his life continued on and he fell in love with no remorse, and I'm on the edge of my seat. She gets this man alone in a room, manages to trap him, and name drops her friend. His demeanor immediately shifts. Cassie prompts him to admit what he has done, but he refuses.. And this is where I feeze. Cassie attempts to carve Nina's name into his body, he fights her off and gains control over her, pins her down, puts a pillow over her face, and shoves his knee into the pillow. My hand is clasped over my mouth. I don't think I took a breath until she stopped moving. He is crying. I am crying. You could hear a pin drop in the theater. That's it??
The scene suddenly changes to the morning after, and her body has not moved. She's dead. The rapist's friend, played by Max Greenfield, comes in and tells him he will help him get away with it. They burn her body. And for a minute, all hope feels completely lost.
Without giving away too much more, I will say that the men did not get away with what they did. Cassie prepared for things to come to light if she didn't make it back from her confrontation, and the ending of this movie was SO neatly wrapped up in a beautiful bow of Justice. I felt mostly content. I say mostly, because even after the men go what they deserved, I couldn't feel great because of all the rel life women who don't get justice.. and who never will.
I can't recommend watching this movie enough. If you have made it this far and know the ending, see it anyways. I believe this film will serve its purpose. I think it will start conversations, which will lead to healing and prevention of sexual assault. I have to hope that.
It is not lost on me that men are also victims of sexual assault in the US. 1 in every 33 males is raped per year. Most of them are assaulted by family, and usually before their adolescent years are past them.
So talk about it. Talk about the injustice. Raise questions to authorities who have dismissed these cases. Make some noise, make some waves. Let's stop allowing evil people to keep getting away with it.
If you have been sexually assaulted, or know someone who needs help, reach out to the proper people. Call a therapist. Call the police. Call a helpline. Call a friend. Odds are, you can find an ally. I for one, will always be an ally to ones who need it.
National Sexual Assault Hotline
Hours: Available 24 hours