Thursday, September 15, 2016

How Fatmagul Defies Rape Culture

       During Tuesday's lecture, we watched portions of the Turkish telenovela turned Spanish dubbed drama, "Que Culpa Tiene Fatmagul". One of these clips included the scene from Episode One where she is gang raped by a group of drunk men. Just like in the drama itself, Dr. A did not sugar coat the scene. No parts of the crime were skipped in class, no warnings were given for us to cover our eyes or prepare ourselves, and nothing was censored.
       As a Public Relations major and a huge movie junkie, this is something I found so perplexingly rare not only in Turkish or Spanish culture but unfortunately also in American culture. In any other Hollywood movie or drama, the screen would go to black before anything too emotionally pressing was shown in order to keep audience ratings up and not scare viewers away especially on Episode One. In any other average show, the director would have just flashed straight to the part where Fatmagul is in the hospital or where she is left in the dirt to cry.
       However, the director of Fatmagul, Hilal Saral, purposely shows it all from beginning to end without infringing on restrictive censorship ratings. She shows the portion where the men get clearly intoxicated, the part where they drunkenly spot Fatmagul, and her desperate attempt at escaping. She takes the audience from hope to hopelessness, and we see the point where Fatmagul gives up fighting against her rapists. We are shown how she has no more energy to do so and is covered in complete darkness.
       Nothing about this scene is pretty, yet it was still so hard to peel away from. The entire act was so visibly heartbreaking where you couldn't stop watching. Everything about it felt so real because Saral took no shortcuts in showing us reality. Fatmagul gave the audience a face and a name to put to a worldwide issue.
       You see rape culture manifesting itself in American society today with movies such as "Fifty Shades of Grey" becoming huge successes across the charts. You see a normalization where violence towards women is seen as something appealing, sexy, and masculine on and off college campuses. I applaud Hilal Saral and the entire staff of "Que Culpa Tiene Fatmagul" for placing blame where it belongs, starting a necessary discussion across borders, and refusing to sugar coat an on screen scene of a problem that happens all too often off screen.


  1. I agree with your observation that this telenovela is so real in that it does not censor things. I have found that in the telenovela I am watching as well. I think the refusal to censor uncomfortable content makes the issues that are displayed that much more relatable. For example, in Senora Acero (which I am watching), a scene where a girl gets breast implants is not censored. The audiences sees her skin cut open, with a machine sucking up the blood. We see the two "operators" (who are not certified) shoving large implants into her chest. The girl ends up dying–but her death is made more real after the audience has to watch exactly what happened to her. The realization that this scene is not made up–that it is based on real life–makes it that much more powerful, as did the story of Fatmagul.

  2. I absolutely agree! It's especially interesting for this to be coming out of a place like Turkey that is thought of as a very conservative and censored place. I believe that a large part of the problem with the general public taking notice of issues like this in society is that they aren't able to make it personal to them so it will never hold a place of importance or impact in their minds. Scenes like this are very real and relatable. Plenty of women could find themselves in a situation much like Fatmagul's, and seeing the consequences of it spelled out so clearly is a needed shock for many. On the flip side, this will leave men either examining their own actions or reveal them as part of the problem.

  3. Hola Christina. Creo que su observación de esta escena es muy interesante y precisa. La escena era difícil de ver, pero mostraba la difícil realidad de la cultura de la violación. Fue impresionante ver en una telenovela turca ya que tienen reglas estrictas contra cualquier cosa sexual en la televisión. Incluso en los Estados Unidos, muchos hombres no respetan a las mujeres y aprenden que ser agresivo está bien. Aunque esta escena es extrema y muy triste, muestra cómo estas acciones afectan a una mujer.

  4. Hi Christina, I had so many of the same thoughts while watching that scene in class. Like Rachel said, it was so shocking that something this raw and uncensored came out of a country like Turkey, often associated with gender inequality and censorship. It's a topic that strikes a nerve in any audience member, male or female, and generally makes people as a whole uncomfortable. No one wants to talk about rape, let alone see it on TV. But that's precisely the reason that it should be addressed in popular culture. Not to normalize it, but to show societies who can easily turn a blind eye just how gruesome the act is and how devastating its effects can be.

    This telenovela did in incredible job of letting the audience into such a controversial topic, and not skimping on the details sheerly for "sugarcoating". Coming into this class knowing relatively nothing about telenovelas, let alone those in Turkey, it gave me a new appreciation for how they can truly make a difference by highlighting injustices in society and allowing the general public to be exposed to real life struggles through the characters.