Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is hands down my favorite show ever (OK, it’s actually tied with Gilmore Girls.) Anyway, considering its 17th season is currently airing in new episodes on NBC, it’s clear I’m not the only one who’s obsessed with the show. While I’ll be the first to admit it hasn’t been the same since Detective Stabler left back in season 10, (he and Olivia Benson will always be my favorite detective partners), the show continues to push the edge by addressing serious sexual assault issues and common myths.
A recent study conducted by researchers at Washington State University suggests that SVU benefits viewers by dispelling common myths about rape culture. The study pitted three popular crime dramas against each other: CSI, NCIS, and SVU to assess how each impacted the viewer’s attitude towards sexual violence. The researchers surveyed 313 college freshman and found the SVU viewers were the least likely to accept rape culture myths and more likely to deny any unwanted sexual activity.
The reasoning? SVU does more than simply address these myths, it completely obliterates them. It attacks the all too common practice of victim-blaming. The show portrays women (and men) of every race, class, age, and profession, including strippers and prostitutes, as victims. It refutes common misconceptions such as, a woman is partly to blame for her rape if she was drinking, a married woman can’t be raped by her husband, only women can be raped, and countless others. The show portrays victims simply as victims and sends a positive message for real-life victims to come forward about abuse. SVU also shows clear consequences for perpetrators, which the researchers believe may cause people to be more likely to heed sexual consent decisions.
The show’s star, Mariska Hargitay, is also a real life advocate for sexual assault victims. Her charity organization, The Joyful Heart, supports survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. So next time you spend hours in your room re-watching every season of SVU, don’t feel guilty. You’re actually just helping yourself.
(Source: Huffington Post)