spirit_zone: (anna)
[personal profile] spirit_zone

A series of posts on Tumblr have been looking at the 33rd episode of Utena, and its infamous Akio/Utena sex scene, and making two claims. That, 1. Akio raped Utena; and 2. that Utena is clearly terrified during the whole act, babbling about unrelated things and disassociating out of fear.

My response to point one is yes, without a doubt. My response to point two is that the writing is a little more complex than that, and that Utena deserves a little more credit for what she's actually doing in that scene.

For most of the episode, we see Utena through Akio's POV, and right from the start she's behaving in a very un-Utena way; she acts like a demure housewife, and talks to him about cooking and domestic chores. This is essentially Akio's feminization fantasy of Utena. During the sex scene, though, I think the facade drops. Because to me, the whole freaking monologue is charged with sexual innuendo.

"mix the asparagus and salmon with some mayonnaise"

"We always put them into you know..."

"two helpings for Himemiya and me..."


I think it's pretty obvious that Utena is not just talking about food. And in a show that frequently delivers information through metaphor, this sort of indirectness is par for the course. So I don't agree that the words are nonsense, or that Utena is only talking out of fear. Yes, what Akio is doing is horrible. Utena's consent is nonexistent; her reaction to the sex is largely bewilderment, which shows the massive power differential and gap in experience between Akio and her. At the same time, I see Utena as performing an ideal of femininity and domesticity, while simultaneously trying to make sense of what's happening to her by couching it in familiar terms.

I don't mean to minimize the harm done in that scene. However, what I took from it is that Utena, on some level, knows what's up; that the domestic fantasy she's playing, and that Akio wants her to play, is in fact a veneer for something far more sordid.
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