Warning: talking about rape again.
Now Jolie has confirmed that the scene deliberately echoes the too-familiar beats of the date-rape narrative. “We were very conscious, the writer [Linda Woolverton] and I, that it was a metaphor for rape,” Jolie said during an interview with BBC Woman’s Hour.
There’s another quote right after this one in the article that’s worth emphasizing, I think.
Jolie had spoken forcefully at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, on Tuesday, demanding an end to rape as a tool of war. “It is a myth that rape is an inevitable part of conflict,” she said at the Summit. “There is nothing inevitable about it.”
I think the way the movie staged the scene is very in line with what Jolie said there. It’s very clear that Stephen’s decision to cut off Maleficent’s wings is a very, very deliberate one. He went out to meet her already prepared to do something terrible. He made a conscious decision to drug her. He made a conscious decision, when he couldn’t bring himself to kill her, to still do something that hurt her in a very fundamental way. Stephen chooses to do this because he wants power, and the crown. It in no way something that was destined to happen from the beginning of their relationship, or even because he threw in his lot with the humans.
And it’s sad that it feels very unusual for a movie to depict rape as something that isn’t just about the “heat of the moment” but rather a choice on the part of the attacker (either pre-meditated or a snap decision) to hurt someone. We’re still getting fed the bullshit rape fantasy where it somehow turns consensual partway through more often than I care to think about.
I have to take extreme exception to one thing the article says, as a throw-away:
Maleficent may have muddled messages—the fact that Maleficent’s entire motivation as a villain is rejection by a man is not a great feminist message—
Are you fucking serious? Did we not watch the same movie? Did you just forget the part where the entire previous paragraph of the article is about how Stephen cutting off Maleficent’s wings is a fucking rape scene? Now, if we want to gripe about her entire motivation for villainy being about what a man has done to her, okay then. That’s definitely a legitimate complaint. But raped by a man and rejected by a man are not even on the same plane of existence.