Opinion | Netflix’s ‘Sex Education’ portrays sexual assault realistically

By Maii Rashed, Columnist

The new season of “Sex Education,” a Netflix original show, has received a lot of media attention. Perhaps because it includes the realistic nature of coming to terms with sexuality, the fragility of marriage and a “true to the life experience” of sexual assault without the usual television tropes that seem to diminish that type of violation.

The series showcases many rare relationship dynamics between the complex characters. One character in particular, Aimee, the victim of assault, cultivates relationships with the world, her peers and herself after the incident occurs.

Aimee is quick to deny any and all seriousness the situation holds, since when she initially called out for help, the other residents of the bus paid little to no attention to her cries. She is quick to make excuses for the offender and even tries to convince others her assault was insignificant for women. Once her friend Maeve points out that she was the victim of a very serious crime, Aimee looks rather shocked.

Unfortunately, this portrayal is the case for many victims since assault is painted as a hurdle every woman must jump over. This self-reprimand is experienced by many, often plaguing the thoughts of women who wonder what they could have done, worn or said differently.

As the episode moves forward and Maeve pressures Aimee to report the crime, Aimee is continually shocked at the reactions of the police officers who regard her with fragility. Since victims are often blamed for the actions of their offenders, it’s no wonder Aimee was surprised by the sympathy of others toward her.

While she gives her report, the police officer shares the blunt reality of her report, that even if the offender is caught and tried, which is rare, the questions asked by prosecutors will be aimed at her actions rather than the perpetrator. The officer even asks her if she had “smiled at him,” as though that would have prompted frotteurism.

These last few years have been regarded as stepping stones for assault survivors. Prosecutions of infamous abusers, including R. Kelly and Harvey Weinstein, have made national headlines since people in power are rarely ever tried for their maltreatment of others. The #MeToo movement was also one that pushed for the conviction of such abusers.

As our society moves forward to present the realities of the world around us, it seems as though our entertainment is taking those very same steps. The episode ends with Aimee unable to tell her mother of her experience, sitting in her room and finally crying as she comes to terms with what has happened to her, while only hours before she had been joking about it.

Quiet scenes of contemplation often provoke the examination of the viewers. Didn’t she say she was okay? Wasn’t the situation regarded by law enforcement as one that brings little to no justice? As the political and social climate around us continues to change and develops into something more realistic and raw, and taboo subjects continue to be pushed into the eye of the public, it seems that shows like “Sex Education” are also taking the same strides in revealing the ugly truth of our world.

Aimee spends the rest of the season attempting to board the bus again, finally being able to do so with her friends surrounding her for protection. Although she hasn’t completely overcome the trauma inflicted on her, she strives to move forward, as she refuses to define her life by the abuse she has encountered.

While other televised interpretations of assault usually take on a theatrical aesthetic, as they use the abuse to progress the plot rather than manifest the realistic nature of victims, “Sex Education” chose to push a more realistic image, therefore creating a better platform for discussion.

Maii is a freshman in LAS.

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