Downton Abbey: Sexual Assault and Harassment In The House of Grantham

** Spoiler Alert: If you are currently watching “Downton Abbey” on some platform, don’t read**

Since I have finished school, I have been (binge) watching “Downton Abbey” through my Amazon Prime account. It really IS a good show! I love the dynamic between the characters and how the lives of the upstairs and downstairs tenants in the House of Grantham impact each other and in spite of their statuses, they are all one big family. The countess dowager played by Maggie Smith is hilarious! She’s never afraid to speak her mind whether its forthcoming or not.

In the past four seasons I have been watching, the characters of the beloved PBS Masterpiece Classic TV series have been through a lot of ups and downs. One of those moments was sexual assault and harassment.  So, I will discuss the accounts of sexual assault and harassment I have seen so far in the series (that’s if I finish watching the whole series before I finish this post).

Season 3

James Kent and Thomas Barrow

James “Jimmy” Kent appeared in  season 3 and from that start, Thomas Barrow had the hots for him! He’d always try to put his hands on Jimmy’s shoulders and make comments to Jimmy  that made him uncomfortable (remember this is the 1920s). I mean geez…Thomas even went to his room to kiss him!Look gay or straight, man or woman, “no” is “no” whether a person says upfront or not.

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Even if a person doesn’t say “no”, you can tell by their reaction. Look at James’ reaction  for instance. Do you think he likes Thomas’ advances? It doesn’t a rocket scientist to figure out “no he doesn’t”.

Season 4

Anna Bates and Alex Green

My Favorite Downton Abbey Couple: Mr. Bates and Anna (Mrs. Bates)!

Season 4 tested my favorite couple, Mr. and Mrs. Bates! I love the love between the two of them and the situation presented in this season was the second test of how true the love was between the two.

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Noooo!  Tell him Anna what happened!

In episode 2, some guests—along with the staff of the Grantham Household— were invited to hear a famous opera singer sing in Downton Abbey. Mr. Green, a Valet of Lord Gillingham, took the opportunity while the staff was away and Anna was alone treating herself in the kitchen to assault her. He had been eyeing her since he arrived to the mansion (even though he knew she was married to Mr. Bates).

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Asking Anna why’d she be with a ‘cripple’ like Bates instead of guy like him.

The assault scene was very violent, showcasing how he beat her and forced her into a room so he could force himself onto her. It was a very violent scene and it had also reminded me of my experience. Although, what bugs me about films is why must there be a rape scene??? There is no sense consideration for people, especially for those who had been sexual assaulted, that such scenes would make people shiver at depiction of such a scene. I would “love” to ask producers, directors, what possessed them to put a rape scene in the. Is it some sort of secret sick fetish they’re into? Were they trying to creating shock value, because if it was, it was a very unnecessary part of the show. Rape isn’t something to try to emulate on TV. It’s a very disastrous event that impacts the survivors forever and has an impact not just with themselves, but with those they love. But to be honest…at least it doesn’t show the actual “rape” of Anna as most shows in the U.S. do (*coughs* “Star”, “Vikings” (both shows I like), and “Game of Thrones”).

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The horrible scene involving our wonderful Anna

Hiding in Mrs. Hughes room after what happened to her

However…what I did like about the episodes of season was how it shows the aftermath of rape: the shame, the fear, the recluse from loved ones… Even though she’s not a real person, she distributes the real pangs of one who has undergone sexual assault. I have no idea how Joanne Froggatt—who played Anna Bates—was able to emulate such powerful feelings! I wanted jump in the show and say to Anna, “Anna, you’re not alone! I understand the shame you feel.” I mean it’s horrible seeing even characters I love undergo such situations.

Bates and Anna

Anna avoiding Mr. Bate’s embrace

Because Anna was assaulted by Green she felt unworthy to be loved by Bates. So through out  season four you see her avoiding Mr. Bates and it was very heartbreaking to see. You also see the flip side of seeing  how loved ones (who are unknowingly) affected by sexual assault:

Mr. Bates

Mr. Bates through the series has shown great love toward to Anna, before, during and after they got married (a marriage I too hope to have one day). Then all of a sudden Anna pulls away from him. It was quite devastating, because he thought it was something he had done.  However, we find out she was trying to protect Bates from himself after he was jailed the first time, but this time get himself hanged.

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As being a survivor, I understand how it effects those you love and you’re trying to not just protect what’s left of your dignity, but you want to spare you’re loved ones from feeling the pain you’re feeling. You don’t want to have the burden of the incident and then seeing your loved one carry your burden. On top of that you’re having a million emotions zooming across your mind: Was it your fault? Are you worthless now? How come you didn’t see it coming? Should you tell your loved ones? These are about a few of those thoughts and Ms. Froggatt displayed that very well through Anna.

Bates Finds Out Who Harmed Anna

Bates looking like he’s about to shank someone and that someone is Mr. Green

I feel sorry for Mr. Bates, because at first he felt as he did something wrong, then he found out that Anna was assaulted. It must have made him feel guilty for not being around when that happened to prevent that tragedy.  He was her husband and as a husband it was his job to ensure his wife’s safety. He felt he had failed in that. Mr. Bates showed I believe what most people go through when the ones they love are hurt like that. The feeling of guilt that you should’ve been there to protect them; but just as much as it wasn’t Anna’s fault for what happened to her, it wasn’t his fault for what happened to her either.

Mrs. Hughes

I love all the characters of Downton Abbey, but I love Mrs. Hughes tenacity and compassion toward Anna! I mean you’d think because of her commitment to old-fashioned values she wouldn’t, but from time to time she is willing to put aside old-fashioned values when a friend is in need.

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Mrs. Hughes Finds Out What Happened To Anna

What I loved about Mrs. Hughes was she did not judge Anna on what happened. How could she when is overwhelmed of the brusing on Anna’s face and the fear behind her eyes? How could she when she was rapped around at what happened to Anna? In fact, she was trying to get Anna to report what happened to police, but understandably, Anna was reluctant to do so. Then, Mrs. Hughes tried convince her to tell her husband. When Mrs. Hughes said that, I was like “Yeah that would be a good idea, but I would hate for Mr. Bates to go to jail and undergo some sort of death penalty, just because he was avenging the harm done to his wife”. And you know what? Anna said the same thing.

However, I have to say it became a burden for Mrs. Hughes to keep such a secret due to Anna’s wishes. If it was up to her, she would have told the police and told Mr. Bates himself (instead of him ending up squeezing it out of her in the following episode). But she knew it was not her place to say, especially if would have further jeopardized Anna’s now fragile well-being. And not too many people are keen to pick up on that after a person has been sexually assaulted.

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If looks could kill, Mrs. Hughes’ would have killed Green already

What I liked about Mrs. Hughes is that she didn’t judge Anna or try to tell her it was “her fault”, as so many people do. She knew that one, it wasn’t Anna’s fault, but Mr. Green’s own fault and two, she was not going to let Mr. Green think that no one knew about the villainous deed he had done and she saw him for what he really was. Man, she was scary.

Mary

You know sometimes, I feel that Mary isn’t aware of other people’s feelings: Matthew (the first time), Tony Gillingham…Edith. However, it was strange to find she was very aware of despair overtaking over Anna. It was weird…but good too, considering Mary being Mary. Then as Anna was near  the mirror fixing her as shown below, she was horrified to see the scaring and bruising on Anna’s face. Although, Anna didn’t tell her what happened to her, I liked Mary’s genuine concern for Anna and respected her wishes if she didn’t want to reveal what happened. It was really nice to see.

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Jimmy and Ivy

Oi…Jimmy reminds someone I use to work with long ago. He kinda even looks like him: the charm and flirtation….jeez… Anywho, Jimmy knew that Ivy liked Alfred and Alfred liked her, but in a sense was trying to steal Ivy’s affection from him. I mean…she was attracted to him, but I think she liked Alfred more. Unfortunately, Alfred found out Jimmy and Ivy were kissing in the boot room (Daisy ratted them out to him).

So one day, as shown in the picture below they were kissing and as they were, Jimmy I guess grabbed Ivy inappropriately somewhere (I couldn’t see where) and she backed away. Jimmy was angry, because he felt since he was “nice” to her, he deserved to have “more” of her, because he “thought” that was how the “game” went. Ivy understandably was pissed off at that. It’s just so stupid how some people feel that way about dating…I mean people should not just “care” for people if it’s just done for an ulterior motive. I mean, if you’re looking to have someone to have sex with someone, look for someone who wants to have the samething  with you. But you know what they say about sex (when done in the wrong way)…it’s about power and control. And if you noticed, Jimmy liked controling Ivy’s feelings and he liked knowing he could sway any woman from any man anytime.  I hate it when some men do that and the worse thing when they justify their actions. On the following episode, Jimmy is wondering why Ivy is still pissed off at him (typical). So he says to Ivy he was doing what only a million men would do and she replied “I’m just saying  to what only a million women would say.” Tell him Ivy!

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Jimmy wants more than a kiss

Season 4

Tom Branson and Edna Braithwaite

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I never trusted that b*tch from the time she set foot in the House of Crowley. Especially when she found out that Branson was a former chauffeur who now made it in the “big leagues.” What was most sad about the relationship between the two of them was that she took advantage of Tom, when he was in the most vulnerable spots of his life: one being he was still grieving his wife, Sybil and two, he still feeling he wasn’t a true member of the Crowley family (even though they’ve accepted him).

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So then Edna had a plan…when he was alone, she gave him whiskey. She poured too much whiskey even for Tom and eventually, they slept together. Yeah, she didn’t put anything in his drink, but she manipulated him by trying to get him drunk and taking advantage of his vulnerability. All this in hopes that she, would be pregnant with Tom’s child and she could slither her way to the top. Tom eventually figured out her plan, but felt ashamed of his actions. Thankfully Mrs. Hughes caught wind of that through Tom and stopped Edna’s scheme to forcing him into marriage in order to join the aristocracy.

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Season 5

Mrs. Cora Crowley and Mr Simon Bricker

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So, Lady Cora and Mr. Simon Bricker have a shared hobby and enjoyed each company…a big whoopie do. Bricker felt because there was something between them that it meant he could “practically” go into her bedroom. Creepy. Yeah, okay…just because someone has feelings for you doesn’t mean they acted on them and it most definitely doesn’t mean you can enter someone’s bedroom! No is no, whether a person says it or not. Or even if they said “yes” and eventually changed their mind, they still have a right to say, “No.”

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But just in the nick of time (more or less), Mr. Crowley comes in—although he comes in thinking that Bricker and his wife are having an affair. Then Mr. Bicker said boldly, “When you chose to ignore a woman like Cora, you must have known that not every man would be as blind as you.”

While that’s true….ooooh… The next think you know this happens:

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This never gets old!

Damn. But I loved it.

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I loved it too when Edith knocked on her parent’s door, wondering what all the ruckus was about and then Cora says that she and their father were playing a “game.” Hahaha! Then you see how Robert tries to “quietly” choke the lights out of Mr. Bicker! Too funny!

Conclusion

Although the characters in Downton Abbey, the situations discussed in the 1920s were quite real, especially on the abuse of women back in the day. We’ve  come a long way, but it seems we still struggle for instance with the reporting of sexual assault.  Or the lack of support toward survivors (or even their loved ones) of sexual assault or the fact that there are no real laws in place to protect victims of sexual assault from their perpetrator. Another thing to consider is that sexual harassment can happen whether you are a woman or man. No person should be subjected to comments and/or actions they do not want to be surrounded by. Also the word (even in the absence of it), “No” hasn’t been respected no matter what time period either. We still have a lot to do.

All in all “Downton Abbey is a great show!

P.S. I have already finished watching the series.


Want to find out which character you are in the House of Grantham? Check out the personality quiz below! Whichever character you get, don’t take too seriously it’s just for fun! However, I am happy got “Mr. Bates.”

john

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