Saturday 18 June 2011

An Important Film To Watch: One Of Her Own (1994)

"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."

Care to share?


  1. The fact that this blog has over 900 followers but not one of them is prepared to comment on this post demonstrates just how taboo the subject of rape is.

    I'm sure you're right that the lack of women in prominent positions in the film industry is the main reason films like One Of Her Own are so rare, but as I haven't see the film I don't feel qualified to comment on it.

    All I will say is thank you for bringing One Of Her Own to my attention.

    1. Just seen the film and having read your comment thought to add something.
      As a psychologist with a lot of years researching child sexual abuse, my feeling is that we need to address rape with a similar eye.
      Check out how many forms of abuse now exist as legitimate grounds for action in order to protect a child who cannot defend themselves.
      If one bears in mind the fact that all people have the right to appropriate forms of self defence, given the times we currently live through, I see no reason why women should not have the right to conceal carry a firearm.
      Sexual assaults would halve overnight.
      Not only would women feel empowered and be safer, this action would send out a very clear message to those bullies who seek to take advantage of someone, for the most part, generally weaker than they.
      Rape is a form of bullying, nothing sexual about it. Women should be given the social sanction and the means to level the playing field if attacked.

  2. I'm sorry I didn't comment on this before, but I just saw this post right now in this reader. I've never heard about this movie and will try to find it. I just hope it's dubbed into Spanish. I hate watching movies dubbed, but as a Mexican-American who was born and raised in the U.S. with a best friend who was abused by her father, it infuriates me the way my husband regards abuse to women. He can't understand why I cringe and freak out at rape scenes in shows or why I get so angry when he is quick to brush off a woman's accusation. This is especially important now because now WE HAVE A DAUGHTER. Thanks for telling us about this film.

  3. My roommate and I were just talking about how sexual crime is so common but its as though this world we live in doesn't regard it as a serious crime and no one wants to talk about it. And many times men who commit these acts are regarded as the victims in a way. God forbid we ever punish the football star who raped the cheerleader who now refuses to cheer for him and is now being sued for saying anything about what happened in the first place. In Texas. Don't even get me started.... We couldn't think of many films or documentaries that address the issue so I'm so glad I saw this post. I do have to say one of my favorite network televisions shows "Private Practice" addressed the issue in several of the episodes. I found it very difficult to watch but I'm so glad they were brave enough to go there and I'm hoping media in general will follow their lead. More films and documentaries need to be made about this.

  4. This film was based on a true story.

  5. The follow up to the story is currently being produced by Merlion Entertainment with the working title "Raped by the numbers"

  6. I just cant understand how a man can rape a woman, It has to be one of the most Despicable crimes. .I know what I would do with them, But you couldn't print it. I have always respected woman, And when a woman says no She means no. Justice should be swifter for people found guilty of this crime.