Purtek’s essay – https://thehathorlegacy.com
– made me think of two CSI episodes, one Las Vegas and one New York, featuring sexualised attacks respectively on Catherine and Stella. But while Purtek’s post highlights scenes that are completely unalike, this one is more the “couple of big differences” effect.
The Similar: Both start off as unconscious, having possibly been raped; both, when examined, prove not to be. Both have engaged in what pundits deem risky behaviours (Catherine: drinking in a bar without watching her drink like a hawk; Stella: mistaking a dangerous psycho to a sleazy asswipe). Both are kept out of active participation in the investigation.
The Different: Catherine flits around, trying to be part of the investigation – Stella accepts that she cannot do so without risking its invalidation. Catherine is drugged, moved around, and photographed – Stella fought, eventually leaving her attacker dead on her floor. Catherine was unconscious, or near to it, throughout – Stella was knocked out once, woke up, then kept herself functioning through pain and injury, passing out only when she had ended the situation.
Both were victims, and I’m not automatically averse to seeing a story about a female victim. But that phrase “about a female victim” carries the “couple of big differences” I mentioned. First Catherine was nothing but a victim – Stella was a victim, and a fighter, and ultimately a victor. And second, Catherine was kidnapped to put pressure on her daddy Sam Braun – whereas what happened to Stella was about Stella, both the attack itself, and the subsequent story.
Another point I liked about Stella’s role in the New York episode. She is questioned by Flack, the cop character, who tries to be as gentle as he can – but when issues about her timeline come up, Flack has to ask her tougher questions – he clearly hates doing so, but Stella takes a kind of solace in being treated professionally as well as gently. Even then, she reaches for definition from her job, and is comforted when she finds it.
Stella is her own character, and the story is her story. Those things are what change violence from titillation to drama. They matter.