The fifth annual WOW (Women of the World) Festival at London’s Southbank Centre wrapped up on Sunday 8th March, International Women’s Day. Over the weekend author Stephanie Saulter joined Joanna Bourke, Professor of History at Birkbeck College; Laurel Sills, co-editor of HOLDFAST magazine; David Moore from Abaddon Books; and chairperson Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman, to talk about one of the most prevalent and problematic tropes in fiction: the use of rape as a narrative device. Their discussion on Hollywood, Sci-Fi, Computer Games and Rape was an examination of the current trend for plotlines that revolve around cruelty and sexual violence towards women. The panellists talked about the history of the phenomenon, why it happens and what effect it has, and works in which the topic has been handled sensitively (not to mention those where it hasn’t). The crowd was standing-room-only, and joined in near the end for a lively and thoughtful Q&A.
The entire (hour-long) session is linked below. It’s the kind of discussion that WOW does well.