By Aida Šehović

Earlier this summer I was visiting my family in Vermont. One Thursday afternoon, my recently retired father and I ended up going to a local movie theater to kill time until the rest of our family returned from work. Everyone was coming over for dinner later that evening.

We chose to see Wind River without knowing much about the movie except that one of the lead characters was an actor we both liked. We usually disagree on this issue. Wind River is a deeply disturbing movie containing a graphic rape scene of a young Native American woman. The movie is based on real events.

During the car ride back home, as we were both still trying to reconcile how we felt about the Hollywood representation of violence we had just witnessed, my father asked himself out loud:

“What kind of animals would do something like that? What kind of an animal would you have to be?”  

I didn’t know how to respond. I was overwhelmed with rage, frustration and fear.

[The men who assaulted and raped the young Native American woman in the movie are white men. They also beat her white boyfriend - who happens to be their fellow coworker - to death. In a previous scene the white female FBI agent who is trying to solve the crime shoots a Native American drug addict to death with several bullets. The movie opens with one of the main protagonists - a white male animal tracker - killing a coyote that was preparing to attack sheep.]

LIVESTOCK: animals kept or raised for use or pleasure; especially - farm animals kept for use and profit (first known use: circa 1687)

I am still in the car with my father. I wonder if this is the first rape scene we have ever seen together in a movie. Probably not. My father has four daughters. At some point after the war that forced us to immigrate to this country, I found out that my parents decided that we needed to leave our hometown immediately after receiving threatening phone calls from men who claimed to know the names of my sisters and I, and the schools we went to. We left with our mother shortly after, and reunited with my father in another country a year later.

My father grilled some meat for everyone for dinner. And some vegetables for me. I am the only person in my family who has stopped eating dead animals.