Of course there’s plenty of ways to show a villain is a bad guy-- robbing banks, killing sidekicks, kidnapping love interests and dangling them over bridges. But sexual assault is employed against female characters far more often then male characters. And its use in comics, where women are wildly underrepresented, is another attack on the vagina-havers that actually like reading comics. It’s not a new problem, which makes Millar’s suggestion that rape is somehow a fresh device all the more frustrating. This problem has a name, and it’s “Women in Refrigerators.”

The phrase was coined by celebrated (and female!) comic book writer Gail Simone to describe the tired, but recurring comic trope of injuring, raping, or killing a female character solely to impact the male hero. It takes its name from a 1994 Green Lantern comic wherein the titular hero literally finds his murdered girlfriend stuffed in his refrigerator when he comes home. This device reduces women to props within the narrative, which beyond being lazy writing is especially infuriating for readers who would rather see engaging female characters than pretty victims made to be murdered.

In the comic for Kick-Ass 2, a teen girl named Katie is the title character’s crush. So, to get at Kick-Ass, his nemesis The Mother Fucker (formerly The Red Mist) decides he and his crew will gang rape the girl. You can see the panels below.

Kick-Ass 2 Panel (Click for full size)

Comics Alliance editor-in-chief Laura Hudson explained her outrage over the above: “There’s one and only one reason that happens, and it’s to piss off the male character. It’s using a trauma you don’t understand in a way whose implications you can’t understand, and then talking about it as though you’re doing the same thing as having someone’s head explode. You’re not. Those two things are not equivalent, and if you don’t understand, you shouldn’t be writing rape scenes.”

Basically, Millar may like to think he’s playing the boundary-pushing bad boy by having his baddies rape at random, but in fact he’s just reflecting the ambivalence our culture already has toward this horrendous act. And he’s clearly not aware of that. Thankfully, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who plays The Mother Fucker in Kick-Ass 2, says this scene will not be in the movie, “The rape scene is not in it. There’s a version of it but there’s no rape. Thank God.”

I’ll second his “Thank God.” I haven’t seen Kick-Ass 2 yet. But at this point I’m basically dreading it even though I adored the first movie. Millar’s ambivalent attitude toward depictions of sexual violence and his ease at relegating women to objects of jeopardy is disturbing to say the least. Seeing Kick-Ass 2 is part of my job, so I will see it. But much like those who love the book Ender’s Game but loathe author Orson Scott Card’s bigoted remarks, I’m torn on whether I personally want to support Millar’s career by buying tickets to movies based on his works. I’m conflicted. How about you?

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