Thursday, 14 July 2011

Hollyoaks Hitting the Nail on the Head with their Rape Storyline - Every Woman is Vulnerable, Even the Jackie McQueen's of the World!

I know that I usually cover horror and what not, and I guess in a way this truly is horror...even if it is on Hollyoaks.  Rape is a touchy subject no matter where it is covered and it is with that in mind that I have to applaud the Hollyoaks writers and the way that they have dealt with the Jackie/Gilly rape storyline.  Having spent a day in a secondary school with first years discussing mental health, I am perfectly aware of the fact that many youngsters in the UK today learn a lot of what they know from Hollyoaks.  Some may deem this tacky, and others might berate the soap, but when it comes to raising awareness around difficult topics, a number of them have been done particularly well.  The rape storyline in particular really got to me.

Jackie is a character that I never really had any time for until now, she wears the most hideous clothes (even Claire Cooper who plays Jackie has laughed saying that no normal person would dress the way she does!), is a total chav and on occasion has been more than just a little bit annoying.  She is a strong character, one who never let anyone get to her, she always bounced back from everything that was thrown at her, and she does have a reputation for sleeping around a bit! It is these characteristics though that made her such a great character for a rape storyline.  I mean let's face it, how many people do you know who would turn around and say "she deserved to get raped" and words to that effect?!!  It is a sick world that we live in and more often than not these are the sorts of words you will hear on a daily basis.  However, at the end of the day, NOBODY deserves to get raped.  No matter how horrid they might have been to others in the past!  When Hollyoaks had a week of the show dedicated to "the trial" between Jackie and Gilly, both characters gave their statements.  Others were character witnesses.  On the whole the majority of other characters thought that she made it up, that she had slept with her boyfriend's best friend and that because it took her a couple of days to report it to the police, it was her way making an excuse for what she had done.

First of all, just because someone doesn't report a rape to the police as soon as it happens, doesn't mean that they're making it up!  That is the most absurd statement I've ever heard.  A person in this situation is going to be vulnerable, they will feel dirty and that it is all their fault.  This is exactly how Jackie is portrayed afterwards.  That just because she is who she is, that she somehow brought it on herself.  The final decision was made up by fans of the show and they deemed Gilly, not guilty!

After the trial both characters went away for a bit, with Jackie coming back and eventually getting married to her boyfriend at the time, Rhys...Gilly's best friend.  The storyline with Jackie has continued though, with her afraid to have sex with Rhys, now her husband.  Her behaviour is becoming more and more erratic, Claire Cooper has done an amazing job with portraying her declining mental state.  When Nancy, another of the characters, one who didn't believe she had been raped in the first place but who had started to notice that she truly wasn't well, when she gave Rhys rape crisis leaflets to give to Jackie thinking it might help, Jackie went mental, screaming she didn't need help, when she clearly did!  It all came to a heads up this past week with her truly having a nervous breakdown and disappearing for a couple of days.  With a serial killer (a Granddad serial killer as well, another storyline that has been quite shocking - that's to do with internet safety and that do we truly know who we are talking to online) on the loose and a piece of her lovely hideous dress found in the woods where two bodies have been dumped, everyone feared the worse.  Eventually, Rhys clicked where she might be...out in the middle of nowhere he found her.  She was truly broken and in desperate need of help.  For a show such as this to have such a strong character so broken is a testament to good writing.  Say what you want about Hollyoaks but sometimes they do just get it right.  Just because a woman has been promiscuous in the past, does not mean that she will say yes to every does not give a man the right to have sex with her.  No means no and a vulnerable woman is a vulnerable woman, end of!  

So yes, mock me all you want for my love of Hollyoaks but I truly think that they have hit the nail on the head with this storyline.  Even the strongest of women, the most promiscuous, and even those who can be a downright pain in the ass sometimes...everyone is vulnerable to rape and it is a serious subject that should not be mocked.  No woman deserves this, it is every woman's right to say no.  Even the Jackie McQueen's of the world.  So yes, kudos to Claire Cooper for truly putting in an amazing have indeed gained a fan in me and I commend you for your wonderful performance.  And just an extra note, in real life without all the hideous Jackie make-up, Claire is actually a very pretty girl! :)


  1. That was an impressive post Jennifer. We don't get this here but from your writing about it I can tell you are very passionate about it. What an amazing post. And I would never knock soaps. I grew up with three younger sisters and I had to babysit them all summer for years and I used to watch soaps then. Not too many choices back then, few cable channels, no internet to speak of, etc. We're talking mid 80's here. So I can relate.

  2. Thanks Monty. It just infuriates me that so many people come away with statements such as "she deserved to get raped", such a sick thing to say about anyone!

  3. I don't normally watch hollyoaks at all but this storyline was handled well, I liked the way it was done with the you choose thing gave it a different feel to other soaps, giving the options from both sides and the viewpoint.

  4. Totally agreed with you there Pete! :)


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