The two-episode sign-off before the three-week hiatus featured yet another male character being raped without so much as an utterance of the assault. This lack of sensitivity that Once Upon a Time has shown — multiple times — is majorly problematic, especially since a huge part of the fanbase is made up of children.
The fantastical element of Once Upon a Time can sometimes blur the lines with situations that are next to impossible in the real world, making it a little harder to see things as they are. That doesn’t change the fact that the series has now used women disguising themselves as other women to lure men into their beds for the mere purpose of a baby, twice.
This is called rape in the real world. Yes, men can get raped, too. Consent requires knowing who it is you’re about to sleep with.
Neither Robin nor Hook gave consent to have sex with Zelena nor Gothel, respectively. Now, I get that this is a little hard to imagine because you can’t just magic yourself into someone else in real life. So, to help explain, imagine you’re dating a woman who is an identical twin. Both sisters look exactly alike and sound exactly alike. It’s very difficult to tell them apart. Now, imagine that the other sister pretends to be your girlfriend, and the two of you have sex. You later realize that you were not actually in bed with your girlfriend. You didn’t give consent to her twin; she took advantage and raped you. That’s what happened here.
Of course, these aren’t the only two cases. As much as I love Regina/Evil Queen, she did her fair share of terrible acts — including raping Graham, over and over again, in season 1. He couldn’t consent without his heart. She was making him do whatever she damn well pleased. Zelena did the same thing with Rumple. They didn’t go all the way, but sexual assault still occurred.
While we’re at it, Regina didn’t exactly accept Leopold’s proposal and whatever else might have insued during their marriage. She was forced into this, and if — and we’re expected to assume that this did happen — that marriage was consummated, there is a 99% chance she did not consent to that. This was a case of a woman being raped, which was also completely ignored by the powers that be.
Right now, the media is flooded with sexual harassment and assault cases of men in power taking advantage. Women are coming forward left and right. The #MeToo campaign filled social media feeds, showing that nearly every woman you know has been assaulted or harassed in one way or another.
But women are not the only ones that can be attacked. Men can be sexually harassed and assaulted as well. The fact that Once Upon a Time has shown cases of men being taken advantage of by women in power, then turned a blind eye, is disgusting.
How are you going to claim that you’re a show about hope and love and not bother to even bring up the fact that you’ve now had multiple characters raped?
This subject is not one to make light of. This is a problem that is happening all over the world and has been swept under the rug for far too long. It’s time that we start holding people accountable for their actions, and that includes those on-screen. Just because this is a Disney show, and it’s fantasy, doesn’t take away the fact that these characters not only dealt with assault — but their assault was swept under the rug and laughed at, more or less.
For a series that has proven to be something that has helped people get through hard times, this is not acceptable. What message are you sending? There are children that watch this. Their subconscious mind is picking up on this: a television series sending a message that rape isn’t to be acknowledged or discussed. And that’s problematic on so many levels.
Do better, Once Upon a Time. Do better.