On the Subject of Quinn and Rape

by Kara Wild


Rape fanfics, like it or not, are very much a part of the "Daria" fanfic landscape. They feature scenarios where a major character (Our Heroine, Jane, or Quinn) has a traumatic experience that forever changes her life. While several fic authors have recently criticized this genre as "cliche," the fact remains that rape fanfics carry a potency, as seen in such excellent fics as Martin Pollard's "Sins of the Past" and Michelle Klein-Hass's "So Turns the Wheel." Both of these were written some time ago, yet both, especially "Sins," are mentioned frequently in discussion.

Although the entire subject of rape fan fiction deserves examination, I'm only going to cast a critical eye on one area: the fanfics in which Quinn gets raped. To me, those are the most prominent and potent of the fics; the two mentioned above both revolve around her. Furthermore, just from general discussion I get the sense people believe Quinn is on a collision course with such a trauma.

Yet what makes Quinn such a target of rape? When I posed this question to myself, the answer at first seemed glaringly obvious. "Duh, you engage in risky behavior, you lose!" Quinn's milk-them-and-dump -them treatment of guys at Lawndale seemed destined to push a sensitive soul to the breaking point. But when I started to examine these assumptions, I felt rather disturbed by what they implied.

My assumptions were based on a still-viable notion that it's a woman's fault if she gets raped. That is, if she wears revealing clothing, flirts, or treats men badly, she will eventually pay the price through violence. Fan fiction, too, seems to subscribe to this notion by often having Quinn's rapists be ex-admirers with wounded egos, like Skylar Feldman or Jeffy. For instance, in "Sins of the Past," Skylar's anger that Quinn used him and tossed him aside drives him to seek revenge.

Yet does Quinn really deserve a portion of the blame for being raped? Could not a guy who's been treated shabbily have walked away or gotten revenge on her through rumors? In the case of Skylar: did Quinn abuse him that badly when she revealed that she was planning to dump him in "Pinch Sitter"?

In fact, we have no strong evidence that Quinn has abused any of her boyfriends. We see that she likes to have control over them (as shown by her treatment of Shawn and Robert in "The New Kid"), but beyond learning that she drives and frequents bars, we really don't know what she does on dates. Yet more than once, fan fiction has magnified Quinn's offenses toward the male students at Lawndale High, producing dire consequences.

That brings me back to the question: why Quinn? Why not Sandi, who has been pinpointed as a probable slut and a user? Perhaps because people see Quinn as redeemable, whereas Sandi has, until recently, been treated as someone of almost pure malevolence. (Although Peter Guerin has given her a chance to redeem herself in his fics.) Through her traumatic experience with rape, Quinn learns how damaging and empty her life as a popular person has been. She receives a chance to start anew.

We can see examples of Quinn's newly-gained wisdom in fics such as Michelle Klein-Hass's "Mazel Tov" and the C.E. Forman-Peter Guerin collaboration, "My Stupid Date With Destiny." In "Mazel Tov," Quinn's life-changes following rape are profound; she's gone from being shallow and self-centered to being a disciplined, serious person with an interest in helping others. "My Stupid Date With Destiny" presents a less dramatic, but still profound change. Although Quinn managed to avoid being raped by Beavis and Butthead she tells Daria that that encounter, amongst others, has caused her to rethink her life. "I'm going to do my best to be the sister you should have, instead of the rotten bitch I was." In these cases and more, fan fiction presents Quinn as emerging from rape a stronger person.

This assumption that she can redeem herself presents two problems. One: it implies that Quinn otherwise lacks the ability to see theemptiness in her life. Yet episodes scattered throughout Seasons Two and Three reveal that Quinn does possess this capability. In "Monster," she confesses that she finds the limits of her popularity to be frustrating. In "The Old and the Beautiful," Quinn's show of common sense and maturity causes the viewer to wonder whether she's outgrown the Fashion Club.

The second problem with the assumption that Quinn could redeem herself after rape lies with the question of whether she actually could. What if, in fact, the opposite occurred? For instance, the Quinn we see now -- love her or hate her -- has a definite zest for life; yet after rape, her inner spark could be extinguished. She might spend years depressed and suicidal, never entirely able to rebuild her life. Just as the trauma of rape might transform Quinn into a competent person, it might just as easily transform her into a shadow -- permanently.

Now does that mean Quinn shouldn't face any consequences for her behavior towards guys? Of course she should, since everyone deserves to be treated with respect. But there are other ways to pay the price than through physical violence. For example, John Berry's fic, "My Quinn's Delayed Reaction," proves that a guy giving Quinn the brush-off can be an extremely effective way of making her rethink her behavior. Moreover, let's keep in mind that Quinn's not even sixteen years old. How many of us at sixteen felt secure enough about our self-image to be nice to others?

Quinn still has many years of maturing ahead [no offense to all of you mature sixteen-year-olds out there : >], and all signs point to her being able to attain maturity on her own, without a traumatic event to spur her on. The fact that many fan fiction authors are growing tired of the entire rape genre, let alone of fanfics where Quinn gets raped, is a positive sign. Perhaps it's an acknowledgment that in the three years "Daria" has been on the air, Quinn has already matured tremendously.