Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer



Dear All;

I have to say that I’m a bit upset at the emphasis being put on Jamie’s rape and abuse by BJR. The thing about the rape of a girl or a woman is that, as someone said above, it’s par for the course. Well, it’s certainly very common. But for the girl or woman it happens to, it’s a life changer. That girl or woman is not and can never be who she was before. She can find ways to heal. (And it’s rare that she has a version of Claire in the monastery helping her.) Most women who have been raped are really pretty much left on their own. There are therapists, but talk often isn’t the answer. There are somatic therapists who get closer to helping a woman release the trauma from her body. Even so, for the rest of her life, no matter how strong or amazing she is, the assault will color all of her thoughts, her feelings, her choices. I do think that Diana Gabaldon doesn’t really tackle that in Outlander. She does much better in the later book (sorry, ABOSA?) where Claire is gang-raped. And she does an amazing bit of writing when she helps Brianna heal the part of her that feels guilt for having been raped by having Jamie physically demonstrate to her that she could not, in fact, have stopped the rape by Steven Bonnet. Rape is a huge deal, and I think women are as much a part of making it be dealt with less openly than it ought to be. Perhaps this is partially because so many women have been sexually assaulted in one way or another. Perhaps women have bought into the feeling of responsibility for ‘letting’ it happen, to whatever degree. We, as women, do feel tender to the men in our lives. I think we protect them from their own feelings sometimes, and perhaps weaken them that way. I also remember the anecdote from Brene Brown about the man talking about how his wife and daughters wanted and needed him to be on his white horse. So maybe everyone is wanting to keep Jamie on his white horse. I am not AT ALL resenting what Claire does to heal him. This is just what we should do for each other. I am just trying to say that in virtually every discussion about rape I’ve ever seen or participated in, there is a shying away from really letting ourselves feel the devastation it causes, and a fairly quick change of subject. Someone above thought when BJR was raping (or trying to rape) Claire at Fort William, they shouldn’t have shown her bottom, that was gratuitous. I don’t think so. This is more or less what happens in the book, and Claire is experiencing this vulnerability, so why shouldn’t it be part of what we are getting too? I honestly can’t think of another rape scene on TV or movies (not that I go looking for them) that is explicit and graphic enough to get close to what it is like for the woman who is undergoing the assault.
And you might be able to tell from my vehemence that, to my sorrow and anguish, rape has been a big part of my life. Not just mine, but my young daughter’s, her friends, my friends. It is truly a huge problem. And most women just end up burying it. Even the smart and deep women of my own age simply do not talk about it and are pretty useless about knowing any way at all to help. It is a festering sore underlying our society.
Yes, all of these women do pick themselves up and figure out how to go on with their lives (like Claire) and we do it without killing the rapist(s). Or usually even being able to get the rapists punished in any way at all. Jamie’s rape was also a torture scene, and anything touching BJR is very gruesome in and of itself. If Claire had ended up mutilated during the near-rape at Fort William, we might have felt differently for her. But the emphasis would still be on the mutilation more than the rape, in my opinion. I think there is something really subterranean going on here; I think that in some way, we as women have bought into the idea that rape is not such a terrible thing after all. Many a woman juror has voted to let a rapist go.
Once again, I think that Ron has rounded out the story in Outlander. After the first attempted rape, he showed Claire in shock, and she clearly was still reeling from it as they were riding their horses together right before the run back to the stones. And in the second near-rape, he was also showing what needed to be seen to really get the intensity of what Claire was going through

In my opinion, I have yet to see anything that is off in the whole adaptation so far, it just adds to the story.