Culture

We Need to Talk about Bear-Rape Culture

It was reported yesterday that, while on the Alberta set of his new film The Revenant, actor Leonardo DiCaprio was sexually assaulted by his co-star, an adult 800-pound grizzly bear. The assault occurred while DiCaprio was attempting to film a brutal scene depicting his character’s (real-life historical frontiersman Hugh Glass) desperate struggle to survive an encounter with the bear.

DiCaprio’s harrowing tale of bear-rape survival was broken on the Drudge Report and quickly started trending on social media. But soon thereafter our media began (and irresponsibly so, I might add) questioning whether the rape had in fact happened at all, suggesting that perhaps it was all made up to drum up publicity for the film — or possibly for a forthcoming book by the famous heartthrob titled “Not That Kind of Griz.

The Daily Telegraph stated the rape report was “patently untrue” but then, curiously, went on to admit that there has in fact been a history of human–bear sexual relations in our culture dating all the way back to 1976:

A precedent of bear-on-human relations in Canadian literature has even been dredged up, and is doing the rounds on Twitter. Bear, the award-winning best-seller by Marian Engel was called “a startlingly alive narrative of the forbidden, the unthinkable, the hardly imaginable” by the Washington Post upon its publication in 1976.

The novel that the Telegraph is referencing tells of the tale of forbidden love between a lonely Ontario archivist and the bear with whom she shares a torrid sexual and spiritual affair. The novel won the coveted Governor General’s Literary Award the same year it was published.

The always dutiful New Republic dug into the question of whether bears rape humans at all, citing a Wikipedia post that suggests bears do in fact use sexual coercion.

It has become startlingly apparent that the proliferation of grizzly-bear sexual assault has gone unchecked in our culture for decades now.

It has become startlingly apparent that the proliferation of grizzly-bear sexual assault has gone unchecked in our culture for decades now. Enough is enough. As the story gained attention and people began to express sympathy for DiCaprio, an anonymous, faceless spokesperson for 20th Century Fox told Entertainment Weekly that “there is clearly no rape scene with a bear.”

This reckless statement was yet another instance of the sort of irresponsible denial that perpetuates the culture of bear rape ravaging our country. Every survivor of bear rape must be believed regardless of the narrative of denial those in power are trying to push. It’s not up to DiCaprio or any other victim of bear-rape to get his story correct. Rather, it is up to our media to expose what looks to be a blatant cover-up by a fraternity of Hollywood studio executives protecting their precious film and the revenue it’s expected to generate. DiCaprio is an actor, and I believe him.

#share#Each and every one of us has a duty to the real, faceless victims of bear-rape culture — we must help them overcome the stigma placed on them by our beartriarchal society. Their stories must be told. Questioning specific instances of bear rape does nothing to solve bear-rape culture. Some will doubtless even want to blame DiCaprio’s notoriously party-boy and promiscuous lifestyle. But remember, strapping the victim with the burden of proving the bear rape actually happened only furthers the victim’s spiral of shame that is already all too common in this dangerous culture of bear rape.

No matter what kind of denials the producers, director (Academy Award–winner Alejandro González Iñárritu of Birdman fame), or DiCaprio’s co-star (Tom Hardy) put out there, we must believe Leonardo DiCaprio was raped by a bear. No matter what. Because DiCaprio is such a recognizable celebrity in our culture and indeed the world, he could lend a powerful voice to other survivors of bear sexual assault who are too afraid or ashamed to speak out. So speak out he must.

As a noted environmentalist, DiCaprio could even demonstrate the obvious link between grizzly-bear rape and anthropogenic climate change. Both are becoming drastically unavoidable blights which, if not halted or reversed, could affect our cities, our homes, and our own families.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the film itself, and no one knows how this incident will affect its overall box-office returns and critical reception. But the runaway culture of bear rape must be addressed by us, and, if it wants to further the cause of social justice, by Hollywood, come award season.

Perhaps, as a symbol of solidarity with other victims of bear rape, Leonardo DiCaprio can accept his long overdue Oscar for Best Actor by carrying a mattress on stage with him.

Stephen L. Miller is a writer living in Brooklyn, N.Y. He publishes the Wilderness, which focuses on viral politics and social media.

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