The myth of Adonis

I am working away furiously on my new film script Adonis, set in a matriarchal alternate history Ancient Rome. It’s a hard road, but it’s coming, and I’m really starting to believe in this project. I need to get it finished so it can be read on the last Sunday of the month.

I have so many thoughts about this story, about the process of putting it together. I can’t spare the time to write them all down now, because I need to hit that deadline. But it’s challenging and at times even wringing. But I think it will be worth it in the end.

I gave this piece its title because the myth of Adonis always stuck in my mind. I’m not sure why. Perhaps because it was one of the rare touchstones in our culture referring to a beautiful man. I wasn’t always as invested in the beauty of men as I am now, but since becoming so, the character has stood out even more for me.

Trigger warning: sexual assault

I read Shakespeare’s version, the poem Venus and Adonis, when I was sixteen or so. The goddess is so taken by his beauty that she cannot hold off from pursuing him, even in the face of his disinterest. In fact, she basically harasses him until he gives in. I’ve never seen anybody else take away what I did from the poem. But even since then, I’ve never been able to stop from asking the question that occurred to me from my very first reading of it– “How was that not depicting a rape?” I guess that was inspirational, in part, for this piece– or at least, for where to take the idea when I started developing it.

I wonder what Shakespeare’s intention was. If he meant to depict a rape. More likely, I bet he meant to depict a man who was basically bullied into sexual activity he didn’t actually want, but had no concept that for a man that could be rape. I’ve been reading a lot of male survivor narratives in order to write this movie, so I can treat it with accuracy and respect, and it’s actually very common for men who have been assaulted by women to describe with the definition of rape and never actually think to use the word– because they don’t realize it could apply.

My story doesn’t have that problem. My story calls it what it is. I am doing my best to deal with it in a respectful and meaningful way. I guess I never could let go of how much it bothered me that nobody ever seemed to acknowledge what happened in that poem. Hopefully I’ll do better now.

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