Kalamu ya Salaam's information blog

Rape is one of the most common crimes in all of human society, yet most of us find it hard to believe that rape is the reality that the majority of women in this society are exposed to every day. And especially every night.

We say we know how prevalent rape is, but when a rape occurs within our personal space to someone we know or someone with whom we are acquainted, our most common reaction is “how could this happen?”. Indeed, far too many of us wonder what did she do? Shouldn’t she have been more careful?

The misogyny rampant in this society is the norm but the majority of us refuse to recognize rape as a common fact of life. Just like many whites in America have a hard time understanding the nuanced reality of racism, most men (as well as far too many women) have a hard time recognizing the widespread reality of rape.

However, on a social level, whatever we don’t recognize, we can’t change–that is, assuming we even want to change the reality of the systematic oppression and exploitation of women.

The bulk of broadcast and cable television does not deal in any deep way with how this society treats women on a daily basis. In that regard I was surprised at the depth of the Netflix program “Unbelievable”. Right after viewing the series, I googled the program. I was curious whether it was fiction or based on true incidents. 

CNN reported: The eight-episode series is based on an article by The Marshall Project and ProPublica, “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” as well as an episode of NPR’s “This American Life.” The series features a producing team that includes Susannah Grant (whose credits include “Confirmation,” the HBO movie about the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearing) and Lisa Cholodenko (who directed the Emmy-winning HBO miniseries “Olive Kitteridge”) as well as Katie Couric.

Rarely do we see programs in which not only the main characters but also the bulk of the protagonists are women, especially when the program is a police and crime story. In this case the lead officers are a pair of women who are  both intelligent and persistent while the male officers act like cops generally do when they respond to a crime of sexual aggression. 

This program features Kaitlyn Denver as Marie Adler, the young woman who was assaulted; Toni Collette as Grace Rasmussen and Merritt Wever as Karen Duvall, the lead detectives; a trio of directors, Lisa Cholodenko, Michael Dinner, and Susannah Grant; and a bevy of seven writers, Susannah Grant, Michael Chabon, Eyelet Waldman, Becky Mode, Jennifer Schuur, Ken Armstrong, and T. Christian Miller. Collectively they produce one of the most relevant tv series of this decade. 

If you have not seen “Unbelievable”, stop, do so now or plan to do so as soon as you can. We are all born of woman. We all should not only know from whence we came, more importantly, we should recognize the issues that our mothers confront and all women face.




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