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Bridgerton Controversial Scene Raises Ethical Concerns

Bridgerton is a recent, popular Netflix drama series, based on Julia Quinn’s eight novel series. To best describe this show would be to say that it’s like a 18th century British Gossip Girl spinoff. To those of you who have watched this show, I’m sure you all know what controversial scene I’m about to discuss.

(Spoiler Alert) One of the main characters, Daphne Bridgerton, falls in love with a duke, Simon Basset. Going into marriage, Simon told Daphne that he can’t have children. As naive as Daphne is, she initially thought he meant that he’s sterile, not that he doesn’t want to reproduce. But let’s not blame it all on Daphne's naivety; the way in which Simon worded this statement played a huge role too. They went into marriage with this agreement, as their love was too strong to be overridden by the fact that they can’t bear their own.

After some steamy sex, Daphne begins to notice that he’s always ejaculating outside of her. She did not understand why until she spoke with one of her maids. She then realized that it’s not that he can’t have children, it’s that he doesn’t want to have children.

This discovery infuriated Daphne. This leads to the controversial scene in episode six that raises some ethical concerns. In this scene, they engage in consensual intercourse. During this process, she climbs on top of him so that he can’t pull out as he usually does. He says “wait” several times while she’s riding him. She does not stop. He ends up cumming inside of her.

Was this ethical? Was this rape? Was this sexual assault? This topic has stirred a hot debate on Reddit and Twitter. In my personal view, I believe this is rape. Although he did not say “stop” directly, he clearly meant that by saying “wait.” He nonconsensually climaxed in her. He was clearly in fault for not being clear about not wanting children, but that still does not mean he deserved what Daphne did to him. Daphne was definitely wrong for this.

Others might point out that Simon is physically stronger and bigger than her and thus, could’ve easily pushed her off. This is a form of victim blaming. One must remember that during rape or sexual assault, most can not think or speak clearly, as they are in utter shock by what’s happening.

I believe another factor that plays a huge role in this is gender. If the roles were reversed, I believe there would be less of a debate. Nonetheless, it is quite uncommon to see males being raped or sexually assaulted on television. I believe this is why most can’t accept the fact that this was rape, simply because it was done to a man by a woman.

I believe the purpose of this scene is to stimulate conversations about consent, regardless of gender, as this is an important topic that all of us should participate in. The topic of consent is sometimes avoided and most fail to understand or acknowledge the fact that consent can be withdrawn at any moment. The #MeToo Movement is a well-known movement that encourages such discussions and supports victims like Simon. Having said that, I must conclude with the fact that Simon withdrew his consent in the middle of intercourse, and Daphne clearly violated that. I’m interested to know what the rest of y’all think about this topic

Lamina Reja

Geneseo '22

I am undergraduate student at SUNY Geneseo. I love writing, reading, and trying new things!
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