There are several rape scenes in Queen Charlotte on Netflix and we need to talk about it

This shouldn’t be trivialised just because it’s on TV

Content warning: Rape and sexual assault

Like everyone, I was overjoyed when the six episodes of Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story dropped on Netflix – but was left feeling angered and a large level of discomfort after the inclusion of a number of rape scenes that are seemingly overlooked and laughed off as a joke.

You would think given the uproar of the rape scene in season one, something quite similar wouldn’t be included this time round. Well, you thought wrong. The scenes are made to seem like it is something of a joke and it goes as no surprise that not everyone who has tuned into the show has realised what happened.

What is the rape scene in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story?

The very first time viewers meet young Lady Agatha Danbury, she is what seems to be having sex with her husband, Lord Danbury. But that isn’t the case. Lady Danbury can be seen with a mute expression and goes on to scrub herself clean of the act afterwards, cursing her maid for not pre warning her about what her husband wanted.

Lord Danbury is much older than Agatha and in episode five she explains to Coral she was betrothed to him at just three years old. “I was told my favourite foods were his favourite foods,” she recalls. “I am drinking this port wine because it is his favourite and therefore, it must be mine.”

It becomes increasingly clear the sex between Lady and Lord Danbury is something Agatha does not want to do, yet is forced to by her husband, and is a victim of marital rape. This can also be seen as sexual coercion. Sexual coercion is an “unwanted sexual activity that happens when you are pressured, tricked, threatened or forced in a non physical way.”

Some viewers have noticed and they are not pleased

In a review about the prequel series, Sarah Marrs says the show “stumbles over the subject of sexual agency much as it did in Bridgerton’s first season”. “She [Agatha] is married to a loathsome man who subjects her to regular bouts of marital rape, after which she scrubs her whole body in a ritualistic bath,” Sarah wrote.

A lot of people excused the rape scene in Bridgerton season one, saying it was just “the times” these characters all lived in but Agatha is treated as the butt of the joke as she is assaulted in almost every single episode, something Sarah describes as an “incredibly insensitive blind spot”.

Twitter users have expressed their annoyance over the scenes too. One Twitter user wrote: “Shonda Rhimes listening to all of us get upset about a Black man getting raped in season one and then making us watch a Black woman get raped in almost every single episode, multiple times sometimes, in Queen Charlotte. That is my villain origin story.”

This new series could have been used as a talking point for “the times” in which a lot of the women found themselves in, yet it’s made into a joke when it really shouldn’t be.

“I was on the fence about watching it but absolute hard f**king pass,” one user wrote. “It’s 2023 I’m begging for people to stop using rape as a storytelling trope especially if it’s handled so poorly.”

Marital rape is having sex without a spouse’s consent which doesn’t always involve physical violence. Historically, sex was regarded as a right of spouses but if so much has been changed about the history for this Bridgerton series, why has this remained as something to giggle at?

Rape should not be trivialised just because it’s on TV. There was an opportunity for a wider conversation and it failed at every single point.

If you or someone you know has been affected by this story, please speak to someone or contact Samaritans on 116 123 at any time. You can also contact Anxiety UK on 03444 775 774, Mind on 0300 123 3393, and Calm (Campaign against living miserably, for men aged 15 to 35) on 0800 58 58 58.

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Featured image credit via Netflix.