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Mariska Hartigay, who plays a detective on NBC’s popular drama about sexual crimes, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, also works on issues of sexual assault when she’s not in front of the camera. She’s currently part of a campaign that’s working to challenge Americans’ preconceived notions about rape, gender, and victim-blaming. Her nonprofit organization, the Joyful Heart Foundation, partnered with NO MORE — a group that leverages nonprofits, corporate leaders, athletes, and advocates to draw widespread attention to the work of sexual assault prevention groups — to spearhead a public awareness campaign around the reality of sexual violence.
The celebrity PSAs (which also feature Hartigay’s Law & Order co-stars) challenge traditional assumptions about victimization, like the ideas that rape victims must have done something to “ask for it,” men are never victims of assault, and it’s easy for women to leave abusive relationships.
The NO MORE campaign launched last year, and was updated this week to include additional ads that are more inclusive to male victims of sexual assault.
“Being part of NO MORE from the beginning has been a great privilege,” Hargitay explained in a statement released on Friday. “Society continues to misplace shame and blame on survivors — both women and men. That has to end. By confronting the myths and excuses we rely on to avoid ending domestic violence and sexual assault, NO MORE fills me with confidence and renewed determination that we will put an end to the violence.”
The messages in NO MORE’s ad campaign echo much of the recent activism surrounding sexual assault prevention. This week, after an op-ed published in TIME Magazine argued that rape culture is a myth, feminists pushed back with a Twitter campaign that reaffirmed the realities of survivors’ experiences. “Rape culture is when you go to friends for support and they ask you what you were wearing,” Zerlina Maxwell, a feminist activist and writer, tweeted to kick off the #RapeCultureIsWhen hashtag — which spread rapidly and ended up flooded with similar stories about the impact of victim-blaming.
This is hardly the only work that Hartigay has done in this space. Ten years ago, she founded her nonprofit specifically to advocate for policies to address domestic violence and sexual assault. Much of that activism has focused on ending the nation’s rape kit backlog. She recently partnered with law enforcement officials in Detroit to process over 1,000 previously untested rape kits, an effort that helped identify 100 serial rapists.
It’s worth noting that while Hartigay’s real-life activism around the issue of sexual assault is attempting to make a real positive impact, the television show she works for doesn’t always have the same end result. Law & Order: SVU has been accused of furthering some damaging rape myths of its own — namely, the notions that perpetrators of sexual assault are usually strangers who jump out of the bushes, and that rape victims always bear physical markers like cuts and bruises. The show also depicts disproportionately high numbers of false rape cases and rape convictions, compared to a reality where only about two to eight percent of rape reports are fabricated and just three percent of rapists see the inside of a jail cell.
“The way Law & Order: SVU portrays the nature of sexual assault and the occurrence of false reporting feeds the lifeblood of rape culture by making rape out to be something rare and something that victims lie about it in the first place,” activist Sara Alcid wrote in Everyday Feminism last fall.
It’s certainly great to tell survivors’ stories through print ads, but unfortunately, they shouldn’t necessarily expect the same reflection of their experiences on the small screen.
04/09/2014 (09:00PM – 10:01PM) (Wednesday) : SERGEANT BENSON’S (MARISKA HARGITAY) NIGHTMARE CONTINUES WHEN WILLIAM LEWIS (GUEST STAR PABLO SCHREIBER) ESCAPES FROM PRISON
The sadistic William Lewis (Schreiber) escapes from prison, arbitrarily killing as he goes. Concerned for Benson’s safety, a security detail is assigned to her 24/7, but it doesn’t take long for Lewis to get her back where he left off. With time running out, Benson must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to save the life of a child. Also starring Ice-T (Detective Odafin Tutuola), Danny Pino (Detective Nick Amaro) and Kelli Giddish (Detective Amanda Rollins). Also guest starring Natalie Racoosin (Lauren Cole), Nikki Estridge (Detective Delano), Curt Bouril (Detective Carlson) and Lily Pilblad (Amelia Cole).
Food Bank For New York City’s Can Do Awards Dinner Gala will take place on Wednesday, April 9, and it looks set to be a star-studded affair.
The Can Do Awards Dinner is the premiere Food Bank For New York City event that helps support the nearly 1.5 million New Yorkers who rely on our programs and services to put food on the table. Highlights of the evening include a cocktail reception beginning at 6 p.m. followed by dinner, live and silent auction, awards presentation, and a special musical performance. The evening will be presented by Bank of America.
The evening will be hosted by Cat Greenleaf and will feature appearances by Honorary Chairs Mario Batali & Susan Cahn; Event Chairs Jodisue Rosen Feldman & Scott R. Feldman; Food Bank CEO Margarette Purvis and Honoree Dorothea Bongiovi.
Other guests expected to attend include: Jon Bon Jovi, Mariska Hargitay, Rachael Ray, Tom Colicchio, Lori Silverbush, Ted Allen, Lauren Bush Lauren, Sandra Lee, Jill Hennessy, David Chang, Katie Lee, Marisa May, Kelly Bensimon, Mary Giuliani, Phillip Baltz, Susan Ungaro, and Rene & Susie Lopez.
The event will take place at Cipriani Wall Street in NYC. Find out more here.
Big congrats to Mariska for her directorial debut. She has certainly went above and beyond in her role as a director and tonight’s episode proved that. We are so proud of you! SVU will return with all new episodes starting April 2nd. It’s hard to believe we’re two months away from the finale! Anyway, captures are in the gallery.
Alec Baldwin may have had his struggles with paparazzi, but he’ll be playing a member of the press on Wednesday’s episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”
The former “30 Rock” star plays a New York Ledger columnist who appears to have the inside track on a hate crime, but declares it all to be a hoax. Baldwin started filming the day he said goodbye to public life in a New York Magazine essay, but producer Peter Blauner, who wrote the episode’s teleplay, told TODAY that the actor’s public life never crossed with his work on the set.
“I certainly never talked to him about the article,” said Blauner, a journalist-turned-novelist who once wrote for New York Magazine. “On that first day, he delivered a monologue you’ll see in the show, and the key line is, ‘I said my piece.’ I can’t speak for Alec, but he seemed to say that with no lack of conviction.”
Blauner also said that Baldwin’s character was written with the actor in mind since they were “aware” that he was open to appearing on the crime drama.
“We were thinking that the character of the columnist had to be a larger than life … to have big enough shoes to be worth Alec’s while to fill,” Blauner said. “We had to think about giving his use of language some muscularity. We had to think about giving him some history and stature knowing that we were writing a character that was larger than life for an actor who was larger than life.”
With Wednesday’s episode, Baldwin becomes a rare bird in the long-running franchise’s history: He’s the only person to have contributed to a script for the original “Law & Order” (1998′s “Tabloid”) that reflected some elements of his own life (in that case, his run-ins with the press), and later appear as a guest star.
But Baldwin isn’t the only unique thing about Wednesday’s episode, titled “Criminal Stories” — Katie Couric will be appearing as herself, and it’s the first time star Mariska Hargitay is stepping behind the camera as director.
“Everybody felt confident from the beginning that Mariska would know what she was doing as a director of actors,” said Blauner. “What I don’t think we necessarily expected was that she would be completely competent and completely prepared in every technical aspect of directing as well. Obviously, she’s been very observant over these last 15 years.”
While Hargitay will almost certainly direct again, will the show see Baldwin return? “I would hope so,” said Blauner. “I would work with that guy again in a heartbeat. If the flesh is willing, the words will be, too.”
“Law & Order: SVU” airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.
Wednesday’s (March 19) “Law & Order: SVU” episode marks two debuts: Alec Baldwin as a guest star and Mariska Hargitay as a director, and showrunner Warren Leight says he was surprised by Baldwin.
“We have an Islamic Indian woman raped, and it’s a hate crime, and it’s on Central Park South so it is a high-profile crime,” Leight says of the episoded, titled “Criminal Stories.”
Baldwin plays a tough tabloid columnist, who accuses the woman of being a fake, and “our squad is caught in the middle,” Leight says. “Meanwhile, he is so discrediting the victim, it is going to be hard to prove.”
It’s ironic that Baldwin is playing a reporter, considering his recent screed against journalists. But it turns out he and Hargitay are pals, and he had optioned a couple of books on Mike McAlary, the late columnist who in the 1980s bounced between the New York Post and the New York Daily News. (McAlary was the subject of the 2013 Broadway play “Lucky Guy,” which starred Tom Hanks.)
“What we have is a columnist who, at a certain point, may realize he has part of the story wrong,” Leight says. “But his ego won’t let him admit it. This is the stage at these guys’ lives where they become larger than their stories.”
Baldwin is a perfect match for one of those columnists, long on swagger and buster. And Leight, who did his time in community newspapers in Manhattan, knows the type. But what surprised Leight was rather than play Jimmy MacArthur as a brazen, king-of-the-city loudmouth, Baldwin’s take was different.
“Alec went the other way on it,” Leight says. “And he took the guy and went under, instead of over. It sets expectations a little bit upside down. I was impressed.”
As for Hargitay, the show’s star, going behind the camera for the first time?
“It was kind of great,” Leight says. “I wasn’t at all anxious about it. She knows the show better than anyone. Often on our show when an actor can’t get there, Mariska helps them get there. She has done these scenes enough and knows how to get there. If they see Mariska knows how to get something, they will let her go get it. And she prepared more than almost more than any director I have had in here.”
Hargitay was busy working on the final edits for the episode, which she also appears in. Baldwin declined an interview.
“Law & Order: SVU” airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT Wednesday on NBC.