'Orange Is The New Black' Sees Pennsatucky & Boo Ditch Their Revenge Rape Plan And It's The Perfect Choice
Far be it from Netflix's beloved original series to shy away from a difficult storyline. Part of the beauty of Orange Is The New Black is the fearlessness with which it approaches some of its tough topics. From transphobia, to addiction and severe depression, Season 3 confirms that showrunner Jenji Kohan doesn't even know what kid gloves are. She's just telling stories openly and honestly, and Orange Is The New Black's Season 3 Pennsatucky rape plot is no different.
After the series reveals Doggett's past, in which she was raped by a classmate when she was a teenager, Doggett is raped again by a new C.O. after they develop what starts out as a seemingly cute relationship. Clearly confused by the whole situation, what with all the free donuts and gold-plated bracelets her C.O. brings her, Doggett doesn't seem to think that she was really raped, just that she wasn't "as ready" as she'd like to be when they had sex. Boo, Doggett's new confidant, convinces her that she was raped, and having seen the scene, we all know Boo is right. But once they come to an agreement, Boo ups the ante: She helps formulate a plan in which Doggett will rape the C.O. right back. And it goes pretty far.
They drug the guy, drag him down the hall in a pretty slapstick-heavy moment, and then bend him over a table in the laundry room with the intention of shoving a broomstick where the sun don't shine. But at the last minute, Doggett refuses to do it because it's not right. They leave the rapist asleep on the table with his pants around his ankles and Doggett finds another way to solve the problem of having to drive around in a van with the man who sexually assaulted her. And this sudden turn of events is important.
Not only did they spare us the visual or audio that would accompany a revenge rape by broomstick, but they stopped the cycle of violence on a prison show — where the cycle of violence is all but expected. By Pennsatucky, who's not really known for making the best decisions (hello, she is in jail for killing someone because they insulted her), made the wisest, most moral decision of all by choosing not to perpetuate the cycle of sexual violence. Putting that evil out into the world, even if her C.O. completely deserved it after what he did to her, wouldn't have solved anything. It wouldn't have helped her heal. It probably would have put him on medical leave for a bit, but ultimately, her situation wouldn't be better because of it. In fact, seeing the new leaf that this character has turned over, the poor girl probably would have spent a significant amount of time feeling guilty for exacting her revenge.
It's really important and really smart of the series to let the plot progress as silly hijinks between Boo and Doggett — my new favorite friend duo on this show — only to yank us back at the last moment and almost scold us: Rape was not OK when it was angled at our friend Pennsatucky. And it's still not OK when it's aimed at a rapist. Perpetuating a cycle of sexual violence doesn't solve anything. Instead, it almost justifies the existence of said sexual violence, and allows it to become a justifiable punishment. It's not and it can't be.
And I'm so grateful this series was able to remind us of that.
Image: JoJo Wilden/Netflix (2)