When I first watched this scene, I was just as upset as everyone else. All I wanted was pretty costumes and a dramatic storyline with lots of great Maggie Smith one-liners.
I however, feel that we’re getting upset for the wrong reasons: of course we don’t want to think about sexual assault, but it happens. A lot. And it’s happened throughout history a whooooooooole hell of a lot. Just because we don’t want to think about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, and therefore, I appreciate the conversation the Downton and Scandal writers have begun, and that we’re continuing. It’s not about whether the focus is on the man or the woman, it’s about how to change the conversation so that victims of rape can speak out about what happened to them without their consent, without feeling that they will incur consequence because generally, we still treat rape survivors like the guilty party: “What were you wearing?”; “Were you drinking?”; “Why were you there in the first place?”, etc. I think instead of getting upset at how the storyline has progressed, we should get upset that rape is still commonplace, and that survivors of rape still react as Anna and Mellie did because they feel guilty about what happened to them due to our society still treating survivors like they had a hand in their rape. We’re upset because we’ve seen unsettling images of women getting raped, with seemingly no justice for their attackers. Instead of getting angry that Downton Abbey “went too far” and ruined our Sunday night, get upset that sexual violence is still prevalent today.