Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Reply To: OK, let's do this: The Beating and Issues of Consent

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#7114
JB
Participant

I will admit that the belting passage made me pretty uncomfortable when I first read it. Issues of equal treatment and respect between the sexes are very important to me, and I didn’t like that Jamie, whose compassion and honor had drawn me to him from the start, subjugated Claire.

Even after a lot of thought and reading on the subject, it’s hard for me to come to terms with it, and I know that I would never forgive my husband (or anyone else) if he tried something similar. But I think that’s the point — that’s my 21st-century mentality struggling with nearly 300-year-old notions of justice. If Claire had been a man, she would have been beaten to a pulp for her disobedience — think about (small spoiler) the true owner of the Mackenzie tartan at Ardmuir in Voyager and how he was beaten for not claiming it as his, letting Jamie take the punishment instead.

That said, I think the belting is an important moment in the book, when Claire, who has admitted to struggling to take her new environment seriously, is shown the true 1743 consequences of her actions. And I think the scenes afterward mark an important moment in Jamie and Claire’s relationship, particularly when he takes the vow to her.

For those reasons, I do hope the series portrays the belting as close to the novel as it has many other scenes, and that it gives it the space to be contextualized the way it is in the book. That’s my only concern, really — that there won’t be time to give the loooong conversation that follows the belting its due. That said, I really do trust Ron and the writers and haven’t seen any indication that they intend to shy away from the tough stuff — or the emotional stuff.

As for consent, I don’t think Claire ever really had the option for any before the belting. She knew she would be overpowered, and though she submitted at first, she did so because she didn’t have a choice. In the “back at Leoch” sex scene, she absolutely does give consent. And we know from that E Online clip (the first one here) that she gives it in the show, too.