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'Gone Girl' and Sexual Assault

Gone Girl was one of the movies that I was most excited to see this year. I love David FIncher's work, and being something of a feminist, I was intrigued by a thriller penned by a woman. I didn't know very much about the film, so when I left the theater that night feeling completely and utterly shaken, I was both reviled and impressed. In so many ways, the story was something that I had never seen before.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Gillian Flynn's rapidly ascending bestseller, allow me to recount it in a nutshell; Gone Girl is about a picture perfect relationship that goes horribly, horribly, horribly wrong. It's nearly impossible to predict the twists and turns this thriller takes. As an avid reader and film patron, I found myself breathing a sigh of relief knowing that the story was a work of fiction. But the experience left a chill running coldly through my blood for one very simple reason; I was horrified that the book's antagonist, the wife, had gotten away with crimes beyond my own frightening imagination.

In recent days, we have heard a little too much about sexual assault. Beloved celebrities such as Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshi have been openly accused of several counts of sexual assault, plunging their careers from star-studded greatness into oblivion, like the proverbial Icarus from the sun's scalding rays. It almost seems as though countless women have come forward to tell their stories. The ever-famished media have only been too gleeful to publish every painful moment, every agonizing headline.

I'd like to take a moment before I continue with my article to make a disclaimer; in no way do I believe that any woman who comes forward with a story of rape or abuse should be persecuted. Every human being has the right to feel safe, especially when they must recount an experience that has left them shattered. What I am about to propose is a case for true gender equality and a perspective that at the very least should be considered whenever anyone, particularly someone in the public eye, is accused of such insidious crimes.

Yes, rapists often get away with their crimes. Yes, women are often afraid of coming forward and not being believed. But for your consideration, is there ever a possibility, however small, that some women in this world may make up a sexual assault allegation, particularly if the accused is is renouned? In a world of endless possibilities, the answer is unfortunately yes.

Gillian Flynn's portrayal of a 'good girl gone bad' has created a stir. Her unfavorable portrayal of women in her work has branded her with the label of being 'misogynistic'. "The one thing that really frustrates me is this idea that women are innately good, innately nurturing," said Flynn in an interview. "In literature, they can be dismissably bad - trampy, vampy, bitchy types - but there's still a big pushback against the idea that women can be just pragmatically evil, bad and selfish." As much as many people, especially feminists, would like to deny this, Flynn's statement is insurmountably and astoundingly true. Just as there are men who are rapists, there are also women who are, frankly, vicious and vile.

Gone Girl's Amy Dunne is horrifying. She lies about being sexually assaulted and ruins the life of a man who adored her. She systematically breaks her husband because of his infidelity, ensuring that the media has properly vilified him in the process. In the end, she literally gets away with murder. And everyone believes her.

Of course, Amy Dunne is an extreme case. I'd like to believe that on the whole, women are not meticulously plotting highly elaborate schemes to ruin other peoples' lives. Come to think of it, I really hope that there aren't a lot of men doing the same. In any event, the story of Gone Girl has me thinking, and how tragically appropriate that this movie would reach its apex at a time when such questions are being whispered by hushed voices in colleges, coffee shops, and court rooms.

No one should get away with sexual assault, regardless of whether or not they're famous. I have a sinking feeling that this has happened too many times in the past, and to entirely too many women. However, an accusation itself is not an invitation to destroy someone. We, the public, are nothing more than spectators, the audience surrounding a gladiator ring that knows nothing more than what we see, a man pitted against another man. We don't know these men, nor can we judge their guilt or innocence. We are merely watching, taking in the spectacle and putting in our bets as to who the victor will be. As a supposedly evolved society, it's time that we stop cheering for blood.

I think the thing that we need to remember more than anything is that there aren't just bad men or bad women; there are bad people. The acceptance of both aspects in both genders is the nature of true gender equality; the capacity for evil lies in human nature, not just in the sexes. Though every woman should be able to bravely step forward and speak out against her tormentors, judgment of the accused should be approached with caution, even in cases when the potential perpetrator is in the public eye. The desire to nurture can ring true for both men and women, and in the same vein, so can the propensity for greed. In all cases, questions must be asked before appropriate action can be taken.

The court of law dictates that we are all innocent until proven guilty. Let's keep it that way.

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