There is no rape scene in Netflix’s Bridgerton season one. Let’s set the record straight, right off the bat. Also, if you’re looking for an open and honest discussion from someone who was raped for years and knows what rape looks like, then you’re in the right place. And lastly, even though there is no rape in Bridgerton season one, this editorial will be a little triggering for those who read it and we understand if this is where you need to take a step back.
For those still here, let’s jump into the thick of things with spoilers a plenty.
In the Duke and I by Julia Quinn there is a very controversial scene where the book version of Daphne Bridgerton has sex with an inebriated Simon Basset. Her husband could not fully consent to the action of sex. That’s marital rape. Book Daphne took advantage of book Simon and put him in a position that he never wanted to be in, even if he is the one who started this lie in the first place about not being able to have children.
He didn’t consent.
He was raped.
Now, the Bridgerton season one version of Daphne and Simon is another story. There is no rape scene. Simon is completely sober and gives enthusiastic consent when they start having sex. Daphne has just found out that Simon, someone she trusts to give her the ins and outs of something society or her mother had never taught her, has been lying to her about sex. So she goes into this moment with hopes that what she has learned is a lie.
Daphne straddling Simon and bringing him to completion while inside of her, is not rape. Was it a bit icky that she came into this situation with a purpose in mind? Yes, we do feel that way. But Simon has been coming into this, every time they have sex, with a purpose in mind; one to have sex with Daphne but hold back the fact that pulling out decreases the chances of pregnancy exponentially.
They both came at this situation wrong and should’ve talked about it instead of using each other to prove something. Daphne to get answers and Simon to continue getting revenge on his deceased father for things that happened in the past. Neither are in the right and it’s frustrating as hell, especially as a survivor of rape, to be told that we just watched a rape scene like the one in the book.
The rape in The Duke and I doesn’t happen in Bridgerton.
And it’s not like Julia Quinn is without faults. What she wrote in the original book that season one of Bridgerton is based on is problematic AF. And the things we discovered in the past couple days on Twitter about what she has said in the past when it comes to diversity in books, and how she can’t write them because she can’t write about “our pain,” is a load of bullshit and Shonda Rhimes saw to fix that.
Quinn said she couldn’t write our stories and Rhimes came in and made POC core to the story without making it a show about race. It is about people growing slowly and yet by leaps and bounds, having all the sex they so desire, and trying to find their place in this crazy world. And yes, race and facing those realities are needed. But are they needed every single damn time? POC do more, live more, create more, love more than Hollywood wants us to know and POC deserve to see themselves in something campy, fun, and free of issues of race.
So, no, Bridgerton isn’t a story about a white woman raping a black man. It is a story about discovering who you’re sleeping with and the lies that they’ve been telling you to get to this point. And that holds true for Daphne and Simon. Both are wrong in the way they went about things. But we would never label what happened between them as rape.
Calling their sexual encounter “rape” deligitimizes what happens in The Duke and I. It takes away from the conversation that needs to be had about the book. Also, do viewers and reviewers really think that Shonda Rhimes would leave something so odious as a rape scene in the work she attaches her name to, especially if that man is cast with a black actor in mind and in this current political climate?
It’s like some readers want Bridgerton to be like Poldark. This show decided that they wanted to keep their rape scene. Poldark made the lead rape his past lover in such a violent fashion that we could never watch it again or think of this character as anything other than a rapist. And when confronted by the fact that Poldark could’ve changed the moment to something consensual, they had the gall to protest and say it’s in the book, so why change it?
Everything that we read, consume, or create, becomes old. And as the world and society grows, the things we loved are seen through new lenses and things that weren’t problematic before are problematic now. That’s not a bad thing. That just means that schools of thought are ever evolving and viewers are learning where they draw the line. And here at Fangirlish, we draw the line at the Poldark rape scene in the show and the book.
They didn’t have to keep it but they chose to. And Poldark suffered for that. Bridgerton did not follow in those footsteps. They decided to step back, look at the situation in front of them, and takes things in a different angle that completely deleted the rape without taking away the revelation of Daphne finding out the truth about her husband Simon. That’s ingenuity. That’s thinking on your feet and seeing that rape scenes are not necessary in the media we consume.
So, don’t fret dear Bridgeton fam. Bridgerton does not have a rape scene like the book does. It does better than the book and writes a story of love, heartbreak, and resurrection that keeps you invested in Daphne and Simon without making you feel sick to your stomach. Now, my opinion isn’t the only one available on Fangirlish. One should never be. So, tell us what you think. Let us know if we’re way off base and engage with us in a meaningful way that creates a conversation instead of swirling trouble around for views and clicks sake.
P.S. From one survivor to another, I can also admit that my experience is not the only one, even if I survived years of assault and pain. Experiences differ. And to help better analyze and break down this conversation, make sure to follow Fangirlish on social media for an upcoming roundtable discussion about this Bridgerton topic, where we challenge ourselves to talk about the hard stuff and not shy away from it.
Bridgerton season one is available on Netflix.