The rape culture tropes we hardly even notice


In my belated binge watch of “Scandal,” I was one of many people simply could not stand Mellie, the overdramatic, calculating wife of President Grant. I simultaneously hated her and found myself annoyed at the writers for creating a female character that I wanted to hate so much.

There was a turning point in the story that made Mellie suddenly sympathetic. It was revealed in a flashback that she had been raped by her father-in-law and suffered in silence for years. This plot line showed a different side of her character and from there on out she became much easier to root for. Admittedly, I did not think about this in the moment as one of many tropes of rape culture.

There are obvious ways that rape culture manifests, the most common being portraying women who accuse men of rape as liars. But Flavorwire talked to writer Kate Harding about her new book and covered 6 tropes of rape culture that I’m sure many of us see on TV and in movies regularly but don’t even register. Read the piece and see how many you recognize. Do you always notice these ways rape culture seeps into our entertainment?


Author: Rebecca Griffin

I am a passionate advocate for progressive causes with over a decade of experience organizing for social change. That organizing experience informs the way I look at the world and the challenges we face in working toward social justice. I started Of Means and Ends to write about social issues I care about and share my thoughts on how we organize in a smart, strategic way. Please visit and join the conversation.

1 thought on “The rape culture tropes we hardly even notice”

  1. You forgot about the piece in “Scandal” that also framed Mellie’s character: the child that her husband thought was his was actually fathered by his father during that assault.

    Living with both of those secrets for so many years undid her and then undid their marriage, especially after “their” son was murdered.

    The damage done by sexual assault is far more wide-reaching in time and in whom else it affects than most people realize. Kudos to Shonda Rhimes for “getting” that out there into prime-time, “big” network TV on “Scandal.”

    Best to you,



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