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The comic book Watchmen is a book about the dynamics of super heroes and the world where they live. It deviates from Marvel Comics conception of a noble super hero who exists only for the public good. These people are based on second tier DC characters, characters that Alan Moore and David Gibbons ask-point blank-what if? What if these people were put into situations where they wore costumes and they were not inhibited by Marvel’s seeming code of decent conduct? What if not everyone is as brave, noble, and born on the fourth of July like Captain America or dedicated like Batman? In discussing these characters we discuss fundamental issues that human beings face, issues that are becoming prevalent in discussions of “Social Justice” in today’s modern society.

Watchmen is complex, filled with messages about the era that it was written in, and frightening. One of the most frightening characters in the story is Edward Blake, also known as the comedian. Blake displays classic signs of psychopathic behavior and sociopathy. He is a soldier who enjoys killing and seems to feel no remorse for his crimes. Edward Blake is the catalyst for the story starting and a key arc that asks “do the crimes of the individual outweigh the crimes of an organization.” It also asks the reader to re-define the notion of a “crime” against humanity. Are the crimes of a single man hurting a single individual worse than the crimes of an individual hurting a massive group of people? The comedian hurts children and women with equal ferocity, the villain of the story kills millions of people on a massive scale-perverting humanity and creating a future built on a lie. Which crime weighs more and where does a man like the comedian fit?

The Comedian does not fit. He is a monster, but he is a monster more fit for dinosaurs and fossils. He is a product of a bygone era that women and men are working to extinguish. In order to understand that era, we must look at the “rape culture” which created and affected that particular generation. According to Marshall University, Rape Culture is defined as, “Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture.” It affects every woman and is something that will take time to combat. In 1975 the film “Rape Culture” examined the long term effects that mass media had on the behavior. It pointed out Gone with the Wind as an example of a world where men were “brave and strong” and women hinged their lives upon a man’s behavior. Men would take women, and women would be dependent on men. The character of Rhett toys with Scarlett’s emotions and behavior, and forces-nay insists upon her to be dependent on him.

This is not the only example in filmography of the period. The 1956 film “My Fair Lady “could also be argued to perpetuate Rape culture. The main character Professor Higgins takes a “cockney flower girl” and promises her better living and a better job in return for allowing him to “re-mold” and re-make her into a more “idealized” version of a woman more fit for society. She is an independent thinker and a dedicated woman and while she might be poor she has her own ideals and her own dreams and plans. He bribes her with pretty dresses and gifts and in return puts her through rigorous training and almost painful humiliation. While he says that he “believes” in her, he effectively quashes her spirit and deserves her leaving him before the film ends. It deviates from the standard story when she comes back she comes back of her own free will, and determined to have him meet her terms. It strikes a decisive blow.
Storytelling, history, and writing are full of instances where women are told to believe promises from men and men are supposed to provide for those women. Modern thinking dictates that woman should be equal to man. Women is equal to man however writing has not yet caught up to this standard. Generations and decades of women have been subjected to stories where the man provides and the woman pays for it by looking sexual, having sex, or giving something up in return for that particular provision. That continues into the modern era with George RR Martin’s series game of thrones, to offer an example.

I will make the argument that the character of Dany-Danerys Targeryen is a sign of that particular culture. While she follows a character arc that makes her a strong female she buys her husband’s love and devotion in the marital bed and she is regarded as “less” than other rulers in the book. She accepts that she is told that she can rule, but the same can be said of Cersei Lannister who openly extols the virtues of selling your body to buy men and power. While horrible, these women are a product of their time period. That does not excuse those actions, however with education it will change for them. Dany ultimately choses her own consort by the end of the fifth book and insists upon his respect in return for her power. Cersei makes decisions that lead to her incarceration, but eventually she will take power herself without men behind her. The character of Brienne defies all stereotypes and while the word is bandied about her and she lives in constant danger of that particular violation fights for her rights. The only way to change a cultural stereotype is through education. It cannot be construed as victim blaming if people are not aware of the other options available to them.
There are even examples in history of women, in disenfranchised roles being told that the only way they can take power is through sexual activity. Margaret Beaufort, of the Lancaster line in England married 3 husbands and purposefully chose men who could assist her in putting her son on the throne. Once in power, she negotiated a marriage contract with a woman who sold her daughter, Elizabeth York-to Henry Tudor. That does not begin to compare to their progeny-Henry the Eighth, who killed two women for supposed infidelity to him. Women who may have been backed into a corner if there was any truth to those accusations at all, who did not know better. Historians have speculated that these women might have taken lovers to fill the requirement that they give the king an heir when he was uncable of giving them one due to lack of medical knowledge and advancement. Even in modern history, with Madame Mao, wife of dictator Mao Tse-Tsong admitted to being married to three different men and selling her body for power.

History has conditioned women to believe that they must sell themselves, and it has conditioned men to believe that women are there to be sold. The Comedian is a side effect of that. He is a man born from a time period where feminism and knowledge about these particular matters was few and far between and therefore has very little respect for women. Does that excuse his behavior? Of course not, but how can the standards of the past be applied to the future? In the 1950s, while parents needed to approve of the man a woman might want to marry and their opinion would have quite a bit of weight, the notion of an arranged marriage in the United States of America would have been obscene. They would have found other ways to bring to bear on the couple-and Henry the Eighth-cutting off the heads of two wives would have been considered a psychopath. While they might not have broached the issue of woman’s rights in his prosecution-they would have brought up the Christian Morality of murdering two women in relation to public good and public decency. There is nothing to do but educate and teach and make an effort to shape new storie for the common good that do not harken back to a biological sense that men are superior to women.
According to Wikipedia, Rape is defined as sexual intercourse without consent, but also, “In ancient history, rape was viewed less as a type of assault on the female, than a serious property crime against the man to whom she belonged, typically the father or husband”. This demonstrates that the female has always been weakly regarded. The biggest issue with the comedian is his attempted rape of Sally Jupiter. Throughout the film and comic we see just how much he admired the woman. That in no way excuses his behavior, or how he was brought up. His attempted rape of Sally was a “Power Rape”. Wikipedia defines power rape thusly:
“For these rapists, rape becomes a way to compensate for their underlying feelings of inadequacy and feeds their issues of mastery, control, strength, authority and capability. The intent of the power rapist is to assert their competency. The power rapist relies upon verbal threats, intimidation with a weapon, and only uses the amount of force necessary to subdue the victim.

The power rapists tends to have fantasies about sexual conquests and rape. They may believe that even though the victim initially resists them, that once they overpower their victim, the victim will eventually enjoy the rape. The rapist needs to believe that the victim enjoyed what was done to them, and they may even ask the victim to meet them for a date later.
Because this is only a fantasy, the rapist does not feel reassured for long by either their own performance or the victim's response. The rapist feels that they must find another victim, convinced that this victim will be "the right one".

Hence, their offenses may become repetitive and compulsive. They may commit a series of rapes over a short period of time. This is the most common type of rapist in the United State.”
I cannot find any information on what would drive a rapist to actually commit these atrocities and I will confess to the world at large that the only solution seems to only be to educate women and avoid educating the men or examining specifically why men would engage in this particular behavior or what a person’s thoughts on this issue can be. I’m basing this diagnosis on the details of the crime, not on the mental acuity or behavior. Putting a label on something teaches only understand. This is not a discourse about his drive to rape, this is a discourse about why his rape was wrong.

Research online however seems to be based upon education and prevention rather then diagnosis. That is all to the good. As an individual I can point out information based on my interpretation of the character that would offer reasons for his behavior, but reasons are excuses. The biggest influence is the time period that he lives in and the type of man he is. The second biggest influence is perhaps his homelife and personal behavior. The biggest issue however is the influence of the time period. The 1940s and 50s saw an increase in behavior that put women down and men above them. I am pleased to announce that my research has demonstrated a growing movement among people in the media who support educating people and creating a new environment of equality.

The next issue that the character brings up is the notion of a single crime in relation to crimes against a group. Joseph Stalin was quoted as “One Death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” The Comedian is guilty of crimes against individuals. Crimes against individuals can be severe. Relating a personal story, I once knew a woman who had done time for a felony in jail. I asked her, point blank why she kept herself so hairy. We shared a public shower when we were living on the street and she confessed that she kept herself so hairy because hairy bodies were a turn-off to potential prison rapists and on the street she encouraged me to do the same. She was an intelligent articulate female who made a point of dressing to impress and keeping her opinion and attitude at a certain level, but she had been victimized personally by individuals and that had left a mark on her.
People are mired in the microcosm of life, in the single instance of how an individual relates to the group. In groups, stripped of common things like a private roof over your head and private bathing quarters people revert to a very animalistic standard of living. I cannot speak of this beyond personal experience. To quote a movie “A person is smart, people are dumb, stupid, panicky animals.” It’s the truth. Crimes against an individual can have personal meaning and rebound upon the person who committed the crime. This is seen regularly in prisoners and indeed might be a point of the penal system. There are prisons that are discussed in the old testament, and while they were only there to hold people until Capitol punishment. Prisons must make people think about what they have done.
Society places an emphasis on the individual crime versus the crimes against the group which makes the comedian more heinous by society’s standards. It could be argued that he ushers in a new era where there are crimes against the group. That is detrimental, without placing emphasis on the individual crimes against the group have meaning only in numbers. Stalin was right, a million deaths is a statistic and no one wants to look into the details. The most important thing to point out is that when faced with the million deaths, the comedian accepts that he has done wrong and that his crimes against the individual are beyond forgiveness. That does not prevent his attempting to ask for forgiveness when faced with death. Whatever the circumstances of birth or his personal feelings and behaviors he was a man who was born into a specific time period and confronted a specific set of decisions. He made his decisions and his crimes cannot be forgiven, but all he can do is learn to be better or at least attempt it.
It is not the Comedian that makes that decision, it is humanity that makes that decision. In centuries, mankind went from arranging marriages between women and standing against joining men and men and women and women together to fighting for equal marriages for all and supporting women’s rights. People, despite numerous crimes against individuals and groups are predisposed to evolution-if they want it or not. Someone once told me that human beings are inherently selfish. If that is the case, why are people moving toward more positive behavior? The basis of common law-of things that we should not do comes from things that we biologically recognized were not supportive or helpful. Incest is illegal because it produces genetically inferior children. Yet we still manage to move past all of that thanks to brave people who are willing to talk about their stories. Willing to educate men and women about the experiences that they shared. They are willing to write positive stories about positive role-models and undertake educating society at large. It won’t happen over night.
It is perhaps not openly obvious but the comedian is a sign of a bygone era and an example of how not to behave. He is portrayed as a desperately lonely and unhappy individual towards the end of his life who recognizes the mistakes that he made. He is not that way because of what he did, but because he knows he is an example of a bygone era where men and women were considered unequal and at the end of his life saw just how wrong he was. Art is the vanguard of education, instead of decrying that particular character an individual must strive to understand that the man represents the mistakes of the past and the mistakes of that particular era. We must read about men like this, and we must have them be remorseful or confronted with their mistakes so that we know just how wrong their behavior was and is and will continue to be and how as a product of the times he was part of a perpetual stereotype where everyone in power is guilty.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
http://www.marshall.edu/wpmu/wcenter/sexual-assault/rape-culture/ [MARSHALL]
http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/07/23/this-is-what-rape-culture-looks-like/ [Rape culture]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_Culture_%28film%29 [WIKIPEDA]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison_system [prison system]
http://www.rainn.org/about-rainn/sexual-assault-awareness-prevention-and-education [RAINN]

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And that is why that girl is called a tease.

April 2014

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