Drums of Autumn: Jamie and the “R” Word

Hello, dear novel2screeners, and welcome to article five on Diana Gabaldon’s Drums of Autumn, which will be the source material for season four of “Outlander” on STARZ this fall. Um, spoilers and stuff are coming, y’all. So now you know.

Last week, as you probably know, we took a little break from discussing some of the more, shall we say “problematic” areas of Drums, and focused on some of our favorite parts of the book, including the wild KILLING OF THE BEAR scene, the RE-CREATION OF NATIVE AMERICAN LIFE, BREE AND ROGER’S WEDDING NIGHT, and my personal favorite, CLAIRE OPERATING ON MYERS’ TESTICLES ON THE DINNER TABLE!

A few people chimed in that they also can’t wait to see the scene where Bree first meets Jamie (“Sorry, lassie, I’m a marrit man!”), and, yes, that scene will be awesome. Apparently, they’ve already shot it, so you know it’s definitely making the cut.

But now I’m afraid we must talk about the elephant in the room, and it’s a doozy. Yes, I’m talking about the “R” word, and it ain’t raisins.

Okay, I’ll say it. Rape. It’s rape. Rape, rape, rape. Now I think we’ve covered the rape by Stephen Bonnet pretty extensively in The Stephen Bonnet Conundrum and The Convoluted MacGuffin, so, no, I’m not talking about that one.

Alas, I am talking about a character we like a lot more than Stephen Bonnet: Jamie.

For some reason, and I don’t know what it is, Diana has taken our beloved Jamie and made him, well, super flippin’ creepy.

It starts with a queasy feeling in the stomach upon reading this scene:

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Now, I’m assuming that since Claire seems to find being date raped by her husband while unconscious somehow, um… adorable, I guess is the tone Diana was going for here… we the readers are also supposed to not mind it so much.

To be clear, we’re supposed to look the other way when Jamie, a rape survivor, date rapes his own wife while high on testosterone after slaughtering a bear. And we’re supposed to believe that Claire—our fierce heroine Claire—would be cool with this development.

Okay, we think to ourselves, maybe I’ll just put that scene out of my mind while I focus on the next 300 pages of cabin design and midwifery. Yes, that’s the ticket—I’ll pretend that didn’t happen.

And then we get to this scene:

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Okay, so for those playing along at home, this is a scene in which Jamie—our beloved Jamie, our leading man, our man among men, our FLIPPIN’ HERO Jamie—mock rapes his own pregnant daughter, slamming her face down into her chest, her thighs being forced apart by the pressure, and telling her he could “use her as he would” while she screams and writhes and desperately tries to get away from him.

Um… hold on, I have to go take a Silkwood-style shower, and then I’ll come back…

Okay, I’m back.

So Diana culminates this mock rape by reassuring us (and Brianna, of course) that Jamie was just PRETENDING to rape her in order to prove a point about how she couldn’t have gotten away from her real rapist even if she’d fought harder.

Oh good, I feel so much better knowing that he was just… um… comforting his daughter by forcibly reenacting her actual rape in a horrifying PTSD-inducing assault so that she would let herself off the hook for said actual rape.

Who is this horrible man and what has Diana done with my Jamie??

Where’s my chivalrous, fearless, passionate, sexy as a MF Jamie who would do anything for Claire and his children?

“Outlander” series writers, wherever you are, for the love of all things holy, just please—cut this scene. Don’t try to make it work. Don’t soften it. Just cut it. It’s the creepiest thing I can remember reading, and I read that scene in Outlander where Jamie is raped by Randall.

Give us back this guy:

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He’s half of why we watch this show.

And the other half is a woman who wouldn’t let her husband beat her for lying, even when the societal norms called for it, so I don’t think she would find that same man screwing her in her sleep very “adorable.”

You know, this chick:

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What do you guys think? Did these scenes bother you too, or should we just accept that Jamie is not the same person now as he was as a young man? And if that’s the case, do we like the man he has become?

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts,

Rebecca

*UPDATE 4/23

Hey, folks, so the verdict appears to be in! Yesterday I asked you to let me know if you had a problem with either of the two above scenes, and the answer was a pretty resounding “NO.” (Actually, it was more like, “No, Rebecca, you wilting snowflake moron, you’re totally wrong.”) Ouch, by the way.

The vast majority of responses so far have stated that the first scene between Jamie and Claire is not rape, either because A: Claire was slightly conscious for it and therefore consenting, or B: A man cannot date rape is own wife if she has previously given consent (the logic of which, I must state, eludes me), or C: Some variation on the theme of “Jamie is so hot that Claire likes it when he’s rough, so it’s all good.”

And the majority of responders (all women, I should add) have also agreed with Jamie that he was justified in reenacting Brianna’s rape as it was the only way to convince her that the rape was not her fault (the psychological basis of this technique, I must say, also eludes me, but hey–Diana’s done it before with Claire and Jamie after his rape, so maybe it’s just an Outlander thing.)

And yes, I have been called some variation of a withering snowflake for daring to even ask the question several times this morning, a particularly egregious insult for someone like me who prides herself on her strength.

Thank you for sharing your opinions on this article. The comments board is now closed.

To catch up on my Outlander reviews and exclusive content, be sure to click HERE. And don’t forget to follow Rebecca Phelps on Twitter @DownWorldNovel, “like” us on Facebook at Novel2Screen, or just follow this blog.

To read my Voyager mock-episode series in its entirety, click here. Also, be sure to check out my writing on TV Topik.

And if you’re looking for Outlander-themed jewelry, here’s the link:  Sassenach Jewelry

*Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of Sony

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13 thoughts on “Drums of Autumn: Jamie and the “R” Word

    1. I personally thought that while Jamie was a bit harsh with Brianna, rape is very harsh & she needed to understand she was not to blame & that there was very likely nothing she could have done to escape it. It needed to be forcefully brought home to her so she could move on. Jamie understood that way deep down inside of him. That is an important scene that should not be cut. There will be those watching who have been raped and that scene may well help other women move on and forgive themselves. Get over your super sensitive shivers and give those of us who have “been there” the opportunity for some self forgiveness.

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  1. I am so disappointed with the turn of Jamie to a Jekyll and Hyde. Is it the start of mental illness. Brain damage, seriously, just to many punches in the head for Jamie. I am not going to watch outlander. Done. Wentworth episode was horrifying. This is for what. A rape and a mock rape, so maybe Jamie went through the stones and got stuck. Will the real Jamie please come back.

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    1. Remember the time period. Jamie has been through hell. He is not sick deranged or abusing his daughter or his wife. This is not out of line for the time period, for the situation, or for his fatherly love and compassion. He KNOWS from 1st hand experience what she’s gone through.

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  2. I always thought the late night scene with Claire was one in which they both participated in willingly but that she can’t remember at first due her own intoxication. And as for Bree some things need to be shown to be truly believed when you are super stubborn. That’s how I’ve always taken those scenes.

    I’ve never even considered out the way you are proposing… it’s kind a throwing me for a loop.

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    1. I agree with your take on these two scenes. In the first scene, Claire and probably Jamie were both intoxicated, and the description indicates Claire enjoyed it. In the second scene, Jamie, as Bree’s father, may have gone to the extreme by demonstrating how impossible it would have been for her to overtake Bonnet, but Jamie wanted to take away her guilt as to her mistaken belief that she was in any way responsible for Bonnet’s rape of her.

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  3. It’s his way, or the way that he had been taught by his father and uncle, to teach someone a lesson they would never forget. I’m not saying I agree with it, but it probably is vey true to life for that time period, which Diana was striving for. We cannot and should not judge them by our morals and ethics.

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  4. I don’t agree with your take on this at all. I think you are taking a period piece and imposing 21st century ideology into it. You seem to want this story to be some kind of fairy tale, where everyone is perfect. One of the things that makes this story so great, is the reality of the people, and the experiences they have, and how it’s dealt with through time. These characters do their best, but they are far from “perfect, pretend, made up for political correctness, characters of today’s standards. It’s disturbing to me when things are taken out of context and sensationalized. I don’t want a watered down version of a story I love in order to accommodate someone’s delicate sensibilities.

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    1. Kathy, I have to agree with you. Many women were raped in this time period and he didn’t want Brianna, coming from the future, to feel guilty. I think he knows the only way to teach her this lesson was through an almost real experience. raw for our time period, but maybe appropriate for the 1700’s… I don’t see him as deranged at all..

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  5. No, I disagree. Jamie effectively convinced Brianna that she was not at fault and could not have prevented her rape by Stephen Bonnet. He wasn’t pretending to rape her, rather, demonstrating her relative physical weakness. I see him as a caring father, also in pain about what happened to his daughter. As for Claire’s bear “dream”, I have read that book several times and never once thought it was a rape of any kind. It seemed to me that she both participated in and enjoyed the experience.

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  6. I have read the book four times and neither of the scenes you describe amount to rape to me. How many times has Claire told Jamie, “don’t be gentle”, how many times has she said no to him, if she doesn’t mind his taking her while she is unaware, who are you to? As for Brianna, it has been emphasized over and over that she is as stubborn as her father. What other way was he going to make sure she understood that she was helpless against a larger, stronger male determined to have his way, and that she could not be blamed for what happened. Stop sensationalizing that which does not require it.

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  7. The sleeping sex was not date rape. One had that kind of dreamy half asleep/half awake sex with my own husband and was a willing participant. If Claire didn’t want it to happen she could have stopped it. She loves that strong virile man.

    A man like Jamie that spent many hours blaming himself for being raped would want his daughter to get past that guilt and realize that, even as strong as she is, she could not have prevented being raped. Neither could he.

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