Gentleman Jack Delivers a Compassionate Story About Sexual Abuse and PTSD
This week’s episode of Gentleman Jack, “Most Women Are Dull and Stupid” revealed that the protagonist’s love interest, Ann Walker( Sophie Rundle ), had been abused and abused by a somebody in her life. It was an unexpected turn of events, but one that was foreshadowed by what we’ve learned so far about the character.
If you haven’t seen the streak( and you should, it’s enormous) Gentleman Jack adopts the undertakings of Anne Lister( Suranne Jones ), a lesbian landowner in Halifax who lived boldly as herself, defying sexual and gender mores of the time. The series, based on Lister’s diaries, follows their own lives as a bold woman in a man’s world, rolling her estate and romancing the affluent and innocent Ann Walker.
Ann Walker is the kind of woman we picture routinely in Georgian-era legends. A affluent maiden who is imprisoned by her own insecurity, plowed like a delicate bud by all around her. Since her opening, we’ve been told that Walker suffers from various physical ailments, from back sorenes to a agitated condition that impels the rigours of daily life weigh down her.
Walker’s sickly sort is readily written off- after all, she is a woman during a age when women’s controversies were largely chalked up to hysteria or “womanly problems”. But as Anne Lister invests more hour with Walker, she is found that her lover’s wraps are largely psychosomatic. During a weekend trip to York, Lister’s own doctor examines Walker and said here today physically she is healthy( and well enough to jaunt off to the continent with Lister ).
Everything seems to be going swimmingly with the couple, until Walker receives news that her friend Mrs. Ainsworth has died. Ann is destroyed and begins to draw herself away from a confused Ms. Lister. She last-minute reveals that the recently widowed Mr. Ainsworth has proposed marriage to her in a letter addressed. She refuses to show Lister the letter, and Miss Lister publishes an ultimatum regarding their relationship.
Lister, who has frequently found herself left for a marriage proposal, is chagrined to lose her brand-new cherish. But when she tackles Walker, the truth of it all comes out. Mr. Ainsworth has preyed on Walker for years, sexually onslaught her with every see. Now, he feels entitled to her body given their “indiscretions” and says so much better in his letter of proposal.
Thankfully, we hear this all from Walker herself and are saved any distressing flashback representations. During the revelation, the story is entirely hers, a shared trust and not an opportunity for exploitation. This care, likable take on sexual assault is no doubt thanks to female writer and showrunner Sally Wainwright( and the directors, all of whom are women ).
Wainwright aptly captivates Walker’s deep sense of shame and self-blaming for her own aggression. As Lister conveniences her and assures her it wasn’t her faulting, we examine a tenderness in her that we don’t often get to see. Lister is shocked is not merely by the abuses Walker has suffered, but that she virtually lost her to misplaced impression of duty and obligation that Walker felt.
It’s a beautifully banked incident, and stands in stark contrast to the way sexual violence is usually depicted on HBO. Between Game of Thrones, Westworld, and others, crime is often depicted in a titillating, unjustified behaviour, an injury to be soothed through retaliation and violence.
Gentleman Jack delivers the opposite in a quiet, emotionally billed discussion between two women. THIS is how you integrate a sexual abuse backstory into a character’s narrative. The episode ends with Lister impounding Miss Walker, and assuring her that she’ll handle Mr. Ainsworth’s impending arrival. I, for one, can’t wait to see what Halifax’s smartest and most capable gal has in store for this villain.
( persona: HBO)
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