Yesterday (15 October 2014), a major spoiler was leaked that sparked outrage among Reign viewers. In it, it was revealed that Mary Stuart, the show's central character, will be brutally raped in an upcoming episode. The reaction among fans was intense and immediate: this is unacceptable.
Many of us have come to love this show for its portrayal of strong female characters and the unflinchingly feminine light it shines on the dynamics and pitfalls of power in a world that is dominated by men. Much of the series has focused on Mary's womanhood and how she has learned to utilize it, manipulate and weaponize it, even as the outside world has looked upon it as her greatest weakness. After persevering through so much adversity and triumphing over those who have fought so hard to silence her, to have her suffer through this violent assault sends the message that the world will only punish--crushingly and humiliatingly--those women who dare to assert their places within it. It is a message jarringly out of tune with everything we have come to admire about this series, and it has no place in a show geared toward young women who dream of a future in which they may rise without fear of retribution at the hands of men.
Sexual assault is a very real issue that 1 out of every 3 women will face during her lifetime. In a show where so many characters and their stories vie for screen time, there is almost no way of treating this issue with the sensitivity and gravity that it deserves. To reduce it to something that serves as a plot device to further complicate a relationship between a married couple whose relationship needs no further complication is irresponsible and disrespectful to those many women whose lives have been devastated by sexual assault.
We, the fans, sincerely hope that the powers-that-be at Reign recognize our passionate disapproval of this story line and our reasons for feeling so strongly, and that they do right thing and move forward without it. Please sign this petition and, as filming is scheduled to begin tomorrow (17 October), please do so quickly, so that our voices might be heard.