Rachel Bloom Takes On The Devil To Educate Young People About Rape Culture

How do you explain rape culture in a funny way? That was the challenge Rachel Bloom (of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fame) faced when she set out to direct three short, funny, educational videos for Planned Parenthood's "Sex Education Is..." in partnership with Refinery29.
In a video series called Her Shorts, Bloom tackled three serious topics, all of which are meant to help teenagers and young adults learn their sexual rights, understand how to protect themselves, and feel comfortable with their bodies.
While it's difficult to make STI-prevention and vulva education fun, it felt almost impossible for Bloom to put a humorous spin on rape culture, especially given stories of sexual assault coming out in the #MeToo movement as well as well-publicized trials like Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing. "When you're covering an overall issue, how do you get funny specifics and also how do you not just preach to the choir? How do you actually teach people something that they maybe don't know," she says. Her solution? Lay the issues out like a conversation between real, flesh-and-blood people. Or, more accurately, two people and the devil.
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In Bloom's video about rape culture and consent, we see Bloom play the part of a woman making a video about rape culture, who walks into a law firm to interview a man named Jeremy. Except Jeremy isn't just a normal guy, he's an advocate...for the devil. He's literally the devil's advocate (see what she did there?). Jeremy brings up all kinds of questions that put the existence of rape culture into doubt, as any good devil's advocate is wont to do. But they're points that many of us are probably used to hearing from people who aren't 100% sure that "rape culture" is a real thing. "The term 'rape culture' just feels like a trendy phrase to mean that all men are super pro-rape," Jeremy says, prompting Bloom's character to define rape culture. (It's a term to describe how sexual violence is normalized through things like movies and jokes.)
Throughout the video, Bloom combats all kinds of misconceptions about rape culture, such as the fact that sexual violence isn't just the work of monsters and that false accusations of sexual assault are ridiculously rare. But, there is one moment when Bloom's character is stumped. The devil himself speaks up about how rape culture affects men, too, but people rarely point out how men are harmed by a culture that expects them to want sex all the time. "This is weird to say but, devil, you make a great point," Bloom says in the video. She explains that rape culture affects people of all genders, and that everyone should be held responsible for their actions.
When the devil, clearly frustrated, says that Bloom must have all the answers, she's candid about that, too: No one has all of the answers, because rape culture is complicated. "This is a really, really complicated issue, especially when you take into account things like patriarchy, and power, and privilege, and how all the systems work together," she says in the video.
And that's what made making these videos so difficult. "It's a conversation that's not resolved in all of these neat and tidy ways," Bloom says to Refinery29. "But I'm hoping this video can bridge the divide between people who think rape culture doesn't exist and people who are like, 'You're a fucking moron, of course it exists.'" Instead of talking around each other, Bloom believes the two sides need to be talking to each other and trying to understand. "I'm coming at this from a humanist perspective of like, 'How can we hold people accountable for their actions no matter who they are or what political side they're on?'" she says. "Rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment are wrong no matter who you are."
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