Kilgrave: “We used to do a lot more than just touch hands.”
Jessica: “Yeah. It’s called rape.”
Kilgrave: “What? Which part of staying in five-star hotels, eating at all the best places, doing whatever the hell you wanted, is rape?”
Jessica: “The part where I didn’t want to do any of it! Not only did you physically rape me, but you violated every cell in my body and every thought in my goddamn head.”
Kilgrave: “That is not what I was trying to do.”
Jessica: “It doesn’t matter what you were trying to do. You raped me again and again and again—”
Kilgrave: “How am I supposed to know? I never know if someone is doing what they want, or what I tell them to.”
Jessica: “Poor you.”
Kilgrave: “You have no idea, do you? I have to painstakingly choose every word I say. I once told a man to go screw himself—can you even imagine.”
—Jessica Jones 1×08 “AKA WWJD?”
Marvel’s Jessica Jones is about rape. There’s no way around it. The comic book series Alias, in depicting the villainous Purple Man and his ability to make you follow his every command, skirts the issue. But the Netflix series tackles the subject matter head-on, using the word “rape” unflinchingly, asserting in nearly every episode what Kilgrave did to Jessica. How could it not? 2015 has been the year of rape in fiction and real life, from watching Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz carry her mattress around campus to the triumph of Mad Max: Fury Road’s Wives using their own chains to escape Immortan Joe—witnessing survivors of repeated sexual assault and slavery take back their control.
But Jessica Jones isn’t just about a survivor getting retribution for her rapist’s crimes; it also presents us with her rapist, over and over, and his belief that he did nothing wrong.