*Trigger warning: discussion of rape/abuse/rape apology* also -*Spoiler alert*
I know I’m probably a bit late on this topic as it happened a while ago, but my partner and I only recently watched all of Breaking Bad, so it’s still pretty fresh in my mind, unfortunately. I want to discuss the rape scene in Breaking Bad.
Without going into too much detail, the protagonist Walter White forces himself on his wife, Skylar, in the kitchen despite her clearly not being interested in having sex with him, despite her saying that their son will be home soon, despite shouting ‘no’ and despite indicating that he has hurt her. After pushing her face against the kitchen wall and trying to rape her (or actually raping her, we’re not quite sure) he fleas into the backyard. To me, the scene is meant to make us feel sorry for him somehow. We see Skylar’s face, she’s upset, but the focus is on Walt and how bad he feels. We see her follow him into the backyard to tell him that it’s not okay to take his anger and upset (regarding his lung cancer) out on her. He then gets on with some drug business and that’s that. It made me feel uncomfortable, sick and angry.
I couldn’t get this scene out of my head. He just raped or at least tried to rape his wife. I get that he’s an anti-hero; the audience are meant to like him and sympathise with him despite his criminal activity, we’re meant to understand that he only got into the drug business in the first place to help his family…but for fuck’s sake why are we supposed to overlook this? Why are we supposed to accept that this scene is just a case of Walter being a bit excited by the danger aspect of drug work or that it’s a symbol of him ‘trying to prove his manhood’ or some bullshit like that? Why are we supposed to not see this as rape, but just a manifestation of his love of danger and concern about dying? Rape is rape, not matter who commits it.
I did a quick Google of the scene, hoping to find some articles agreeing with me. Unfortunately, this is the first thing I came across; a bunch of misogynists with the collective message of ‘lol rape, Walter is awesome, Skylar is a bitch’ and ‘it’s not rape she liked it’. Here are a few:
‘lol’ HILARIOUS TIMES, MAN.
‘It wasn’t rape she wanted it’; yes, her lack of consent meant she wanted it…
‘He’s physically too frail to rape anyone. She wanted it’; He didn’t look too ‘frail’ when he slammed her against the wall, face first. Also, just because he’s got cancer doesn’t automatically gain her consent to sexual activity.
‘Skylar is a freaking behemouth/I hope he murders her’; These speak for themselves.
‘It’s not rape if you’re married…boom…’; If you marry a man, you must be available for sex on demand and if you don’t want it, he’s entitled to fuck you anyway. Are you fucking kidding me?! Seriously? Sickening male entitlement to women’s bodies. Whoever wrote this is a real person, that’s what concerns me.
I know this is fictional, but we should never underestimate the power of patriarchal conditioning and the effect the media has on the attitudes of people. People will watch that scene that think that’s an acceptable way to treat your significant other, or for a man to treat any woman. The comments above already demonstrate that some people think it’s hilarious. They are not seeing it for what it is: rape. They carry on liking the protagonist, because he’s got cancer and he’s trying to ‘provide’ for his family. Even if you see this as some kind of noble act, it does not give him a ‘free rape’ card. We should not excuse it even if we like him. I hate the way the director/writers/producers of Breaking Bad portray Walter as some kind of underground, cult hero and swiftly move past scenes like this.