"Everybody is backing Charlie up, all the guys are."
"Welcome to the boy's club."
Rape. That's what this film is about. That's not something we talk about much. And it's not the topic of many films. Sometimes films do broach the subject, but it's usually done because it makes the plot more interesting, or because some male filmmaker things it will titillate and drum up more publicity (The Human Centipede 2 is art? Really? Do women have to be raped throughout? Couldn't they just do oil paintings of boats instead?). Films rarely delve deeply into the topic. In part, it's because films are mostly made by, and cater to, men. But also, even for people interested in looking into the subject -- it is a sensitive topic, the cause of much trauma, for a large proportion of society. That makes it difficult to get right and be made in an appropriate way.
In 'One Of Her Own' we get to see it from the perspective of the victim. The screenwriter, Valerie West, made the clever choice to have this story play out between the staff of a police department -- which you could say is the ultimate boys club, where people don't rat on each other, they stick up for one another. But what happens when a woman is in the mix? And what happens when one of her own rapes her?
This film addresses the harsh realities of rape. How men will often question a woman's motives for claiming she's been raped, or how they'll question her sex life. It's often the case that people's natural instincts are to ask "Why would she claim he raped her?" rather than ask "Why did he do it?" Criminals are rightfully seen as innocent until proven guilty, but the sad fact is; victims of rape are often seen as lying until proven truthful. I wonder why that is. This film gives clues -- as we see issues play out between the genders.
Women are alone when this happens. In the film, Toni's first concern is can I tell my boss, or will I lose my job? Especially as she's new at her job. What a scary world when a victim of such a disgusting crime has the very real concern that telling her superiors may lead to her own demise.
Everything in this film is heightened, because it's the police force. But the same dynamic plays out in more mundane settings.
Less than half of all rapes are reported. Every three minutes a woman is raped in America. Every minute in Africa. This happens to men, too -- but for the most part, on a day to day basis, men are the perpetrators.
The silence of good people plays its part, it's part of the problem. We see that throughout the film --- the male characters shy away from being involved, from being supportive, from standing up for what's right. Female victims are also silent -- because of fears of the repercussions.
'One Of Her Own' is a moving film. It's heartbreaking to see her pain, her inner struggles, the difficulty in navigating through the relationships and conflicts she has with her friends, and her colleagues. This particular film is fictional, but what it represents isn't. A lot of people who see this film will relate to it. That's why it's important to watch; it has a lot of truths which people like myself have the privilege of not having as their own reality. Films help us see the rest of the world --for better or worse-- they help us understand it, and to see what is really happening.
This topic is often ignored. Or, when it's brought up, it's quietly swept under the rug. It's something we need to be less uninformed and ignorant about, because it permeates through the society we live in, and the people we know.
"I loved being a police officer. I was a good officer. But I made a mistake, I kept quiet about something that I shouldn't have. And I convinced myself that was the only sensible thing to do. Something happened that made me realise that I was wrong to keep quiet. It occurred to me that there were probably hundreds of thousands of women out there, who at one time or another had kept quiet about something equally horrible or perhaps even more horrible. And that they did it because they were like me. They were frightened, frightened for their jobs, frightened of their husbands or their boyfriends. Frightened by their community. And I thought fear is not a good reason to keep silent, it is wrong and it is selfish and other women might get hurt. So I am glad that I came forward, very glad, because it has made me realise that I can never again afford to be afraid."