Big Little Lies creates an excellent opportunity to talk about spousal abuse and abusive relationships, in general, but the media mostly cares about Alexander Skarsgard’s penis.
TV’s newest breakout show “Big Little Lies” is capturing the attention of women everywhere, but mainstream media’s coverage of the show is diverting attention away from the show’s real storyline: relational sexual and physical assault.
Based on the best-selling novel by Liane Moriarty, this dark drama is about murder, motherhood and life as an abused woman in the tranquil setting of Monterey, California. Rumours fly in this affluent beachfront town, and confrontations are met and relationships fractured. Big Little Lies is a compelling story about horrid relationships and, much like when you drive by a bad accident, you can’t look away.
Big Little Lies is told through the eyes of three mothers; Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), Celeste (Nicole Kidman) and Jane (Shailene Woodley). The series’ narrative exposes society’s myths regarding the misconstrued perfection of marriage, sex, parenting and friendship. Sex and relationships is a huge part of this series and Celeste (Kidman) is the theme’s shining star.
If you haven’t watched yet, this is your warning: As a wounded wife, who seems to be living the dream life with a gorgeous younger husband (Alexander Skarsgard), two sweet young sons, and well-off lifestyle, Celeste tries to brush aside the fact that she is being physically abused, sexually assaulted and mentally manipulated by her husband. In almost every episode we see this cycle of abuse: Celeste gets hurt by her husband, Perry, and then attempts to stop him from hurting her again, but he always does and she never leaves.
This past Sunday night’s episode sent the audience reeling. On the episode, Perry forced sex on his wife after she said “no” and gave zero consent. Celeste defended herself by grabbing a tennis racquet and smashing it into Perry’s penis. The #1 thing that the mainstream media focused on was Skarsgard’s D.
The headlines were atrocious: Alexander Skarsgård’s Penis Just Put the ‘Big’ in Big Little Lies (NSFW), M-Net frees Alexander Skarsgård’s penis in Big Little Lies and The Internet Is Freaking About Alexander Skarsgard’s Penis. There were words like “seduce” used in describing Perry’s obvious rape, and even some comical take on the rape scene on social media.
By comparison, news outlets barely reacted when Celeste’s bruises from abuse were visibly on display (Kidman had a hard time separating herself from the bruises when she would go home at night after shooting because she was so deeply enmeshed with her character. Kidman told Vogue, “I would go home at night sometimes and be in a lot of pain, and I had to take things like Advil, because I was being thrown around physically. I was really bruised”.) but when a man’s genital makes an appearance, the internet goes nuts.
Kidman has had similar nude scenes in Big Little Lies but the media didn’t report on it. You want to know why? Because women’s bodies are constantly sexualized and on display in media — it’s not news. Men, on the other hand, are granted privacy all the time so a single D is enough to make headlines and blow the Internet up. The day Skarsgard’s penis was broadcast feels like the day the Titanic sank with the all the hype flowing through these headlines.
Celeste and Perry’s part of the episode ends with Perry telling Celeste “You’re lucky I didn’t kill you.” The Canadian Women’s Foundation that say half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16 and that approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. Perry’s threat to Celeste is no joke.
Kidman’s representation of a women in an abusive relationship is so raw and so honest that we pray it helps abused women feel less isolated and alone.
Big Little Lies is not about Skarsgard and Perry’s dick, it’s about abusive relationships.