The Mindy Project thinks the idea of men being raped is pretty funny.

4 May

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I was so jazzed when The Mindy Project started airing. I thought it was hilaaaaaaaarious. And it’s managed to remain pretty funny, its humor centered around a shock factor not contingent, for once, on vulgarity/crassness (which is fine and can be funny, but is nothing novel), but more on bucking expectations of gender and a female lead who fearlessly and unapologetically says whatever she wants. Obviously, I like this. It’s sadly refreshing that there are now a handful of female characters on television shows who don’t constantly apologize for their very existence and all the ways (too successful, too fat, too flat-chested, too loud, too mouthy, too insistent on what they want, etc) in which they disappoint men. Also, one of the doctors on the show describes himself as a Bro-BGYN, which still makes me laugh.

So far, I haven’t found anyone else who has brought this up, but I am skeptical I’m the only one who noticed and/or was bothered by part of the episode ‘An Officer and a Gynecologist.’ Completely feasibly, an 18-year-old woman named Jenny comes to stay with Mindy for a short period when she flees her father’s place. Mindy gives Jenny permission to have some friends over, and when she gets home later that evening, she finds Morgan the nurse handcuffed to a bed after he calls to her for help. He says Jenny texted him to come over saying her “reproductive health was in danger.” Mindy watches in horror as he explains, while Jenny smiles blithely.

Jenny then clarifies, “You said independent women need to make some mistakes with men!” Embarrassed smile, apologetic shrug, sits next to Morgan on the bed. “I’m going to lose my virginity to him.”

And then Morgan, who is clearly in distress, says emphatically, “No, no, nope.”

They both ignore him – and his protests – as Mindy explains that Morgan is good for things like dropping off recycling or cleaning out your car, and that he’s a real loser to whom she shouldn’t ‘lose’ her virginity.

Then Morgan says, “You’ve gotta stop rubbing my leg, it’s sooo close.”

Mindy then says she’s calling Jenny’s dad, and Morgan’s grandmother (because…?). The party is disbanded and we assume Morgan is released. Happily, we are not asked to laugh at not only his unwilling restraint and the specter of being raped, but also his actual rape.

I was surprised this hasn’t already been addressed. This is a light-hearted comedy, and that’s supposed to be funny? I don’t see it. Obviously, if you reverse the characters, where Jenny is handcuffed to the bed and Morgan is talking about how he’s about to lose his virginity to her, it would be unilaterally and unequivocally condemned. So why was there no real response?

This, apparently, isn’t the first time The Mindy Project has made light of the idea of men being raped. I guess I wasn’t totally paying attention in the episode when the other Dr. L leaves, because I probably would’ve been pissed about this, too. Here’s a recap of what happened:

In the episode, Mindy challenges Dr. L to a boozy “shot off.” Mindy wins and remains remarkably sober for someone who just downed 14 shots (her secret is that she ate a whole loaf of bread before she went out), but Dr. L gets so wasted that Mindy has to help him to his apartment. Once there, she can’t find his keys, so she just lays him down in the hallway. She then kisses him, and he yells “Woah, neighbors!” She puts her hand over his mouth and says “Nothing happened, you liked it,” before leaving him there.

Next, we see the character Christina, who is the ex-wife of Mindy’s coworker Danny, stop by Dr. L’s apartment (where Danny is crashing) to drop off some of Danny’s clothes. Dr. L is still in the hallway, but is no longer wearing pants—he took them off when he was trying to find his keys. Christina has a key (somehow?) and so she helps him into the apartment. Before shutting the door, she has a mischievous look in her eye and it’s implied that she’s going to try to sleep with him.

The next morning Dr. L tells Mindy that he was blackout drunk and had sex with Christina, and the rest of the episode revolves around the consequences of this action (such as Dr. L quitting his job). The first problem here is that the show does not acknowledge that someone absolutely cannot consent to sex when they are blackout drunk. – via Bitch Magazine

Oh, men. How funny! When a woman gets black out drunk and someone has sex with her, it’s rape. But when it happens to a man, no big deal! He probably would’ve enjoyed it, had he been conscious, anyway, because he’s a dude. Despite the fact that recent studies suggest men are raped almost as frequently as women, the idea that a man can be raped by a woman is still one that’s not taken very seriously (it seems men who have been raped disagree with how our culture generally  perceives the gravity of their rape). As evidenced by Morgan’s reaction in ‘An Officer and a Gynecologist,’ we all know that men are ceaseless horndogs so DTF that ultimately their desire for sex will overtake their desire to not be raped, as long as you know how to handle them*. Obviously, this is dangerous, irresponsible, and actively harmful rhetoric for any show to make, let alone one being nationally broadcast on public television and presented as comedy.

I didn’t think it was funny. In fact, while it was happening, I was in a mild state of disbelief. Was this really happening, on this show? I guess so, because the show also seems to poke fun at feminists writing about rape. I’m sure if asked, Mindy Kaling will insist that she doesn’t think rape is funny and would never condone it, as does most everyone. I’m sure she believes that, too. But as she is the creator, writer, and star of The Mindy Project, it doesn’t explain why she would make light of men being raped. Twice.

I wonder if she took a poll of male rape survivors to see how funny, in retrospect, that whole thing was.

*That’s not to be confused with the real, involuntary response people can experience while being assaulted. Men and women can experience arousal and even orgasm during a rape; these are physiological responses to stimuli, and nothing more.

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