Pretty Little Liars- Not Just An After School Special
Usually I watch Pretty Little Liars with my friends and enjoy it for the camp and craziness it is. Tonight, though- was different. As someone who works at a University and sometimes works with sexual assault victims, this episode showed something about American and Rape Culture that is so prevalent- blaming the victim.
We have been watching Hanna Marin spiral downward- drinking, hanging out with Caleb and drinking, stealing Pam Field’s vodka to drink, and yes, more drinking.
Tonight, amid all that drinking and spiraling, an adult man who she should have been able to trust decided to violate that trust. Zach, engaged to Ella (Aria’s mom) not only hit on her, but touched her leg in an in appropriate manner, generally made her feel uncomfortable, and gave her his telephone number. And no, I’m pretty sure he didn’t give her his number so they could play a rousing game of Scrabble.
So, Hanna did what we tell anyone who has that happen to do- she told someone. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out as it should. She went to Aria, and Aria said the one thing you should never say to a victim- “What did you do?”
Aria turned it around and put the blame on Hanna- asking if she had been drinking, telling her it was “just like her.” Instead of supporting Hanna, and realizing that an older man was targeting her, she made Hanna doubt herself and start to blame herself.
I would like to say this is unusual, that it was written like that for drama, but it’s not. This is something that happens every day in America. It doesn’t matter how much someone drinks, no one has the right to touch them without consent. I will repeat it as many times as necessary- consent matters. It’s unclear how old exactly Hanna is, but she’s still in high school, and Zach is marrying her friend’s MOM. This show has always been problematic when it comes to adult men and the Liars (Ian, Wren, Garrett, Ezra) but this was uncomfortable to watch. And maybe it was supposed to be. I know that my friends and I all started yelling at the TV when Zach got handsy. My friends also all work at the university, so (like the good lesbians we are) we processed how Aria’s reaction to Hanna was all too common.
I hope the show brings the hammer down on Zach, because Hanna deserves better. The women and men who watch this show who might someday be a victim deserve better. I know that it will never be rainbows and puppies and kittens, but this topic deserves the good PLL treatment. PLL has handled some sensitive storylines perfectly- such as Emily’s coming out. Maybe they can do the same and show all the people watching that Hanna can go from Victim to Survivor, and there is always hope.
Because there is always hope.
^^^^awesome. However, please don’t forget how terrible Spencer and Emily were about this too. They both assumed she was mistaken and allude to her drinking. Like…literally NONE of the liars had the proper response. I really hope the writers are going to address how terrible they all were here and point out exactly why.
Good point- I did forget to mention that part. I was trying to figure out if they didn’t believe Hanna because she was drunk or if they were truly tying to figure out what happened and thought because she was drunk she didn’t remember properly. Either way, they should have trusted her and believed her story. I highlighted Aria because that is the typical reaction of most friends/admins/police when someone reports things like that.