If you’ve yet to see the new movie version of Stephen King’s It, warning: Spoilers ahead. And if you’re personally triggered by scenarios involving sexual abuse, then please proceed with caution.
If you’ve seen the latest version of It, then you may also have heard murmurs of an infamous It sex scene that makes up a prominent plot point in the original book — but that isn’t included in the film. And to be honest, we’re extremely glad that this scene never made it into the movie.
We know usually omitting major details in movie adaptations is downright infuriating. But in this particular case, we think the Hollywood powers-that-be definitely made the right choice.
What was the sex scene in question. you ask?
In the original book, after “The Losers” have defeated Pennywise, they get stuck in the confusing maze of the sewers. Their newfound solidarity — the very thing that enabled them to be strong enough to defeat the demon clown in the first place — begins to fail them, and they start fighting amongst themselves.
Bev — the only girl in the crew — senses that they need to stay strong as a group to make it out of the situation alive.
So she tells them they all need to have sex with her.
No. You did not read that incorrectly. An 11-year-old girl (yes, they’re only 11 in the book) tells six of her male friends to have sex with her, one by one, so that they can all lose their virginities and remain connected to one another. What then ensues is a seven-page description of the experience, mostly dealing with each character’s internal thoughts and feelings.
Before we even begin to unpack that quote, here’s another very important part of Bev’s backstory: She’s seriously abused by her father. And while in the book, the abuse is mostly physical (with the utterly disturbing side note that he once checked her hymen to make sure none of the boys at school had “taken” her virginity), the movie version strongly implies that it’s sexual as well.
And here’s the thing: We understand that King wanted to emphasize a major transition in the lives of these kids — transcendence from childhood to adulthood is the central theme of the story.
But to do so in the form of an abused 11-year-old girl suggesting that all her male friends have sex with her as a way of calming everyone down shows an extreme lack of understanding of both victimhood and female sexuality. Maybe it was okay to readers when the novel was first published in 1986, but — thankfully — that creative decision would have made little sense to audiences today.
There has simply been too much progress in the realms of sexual politics, rape-culture awareness, and the psychology of assault survivors to make a scene like that feel feasible or reasonable in any way.
And we think that’s 100% a good thing.
Furthermore, for King to state that he wasn’t “really thinking about the sexual aspect if it” when writing only goes to show just how far removed he was (and possibly still is) from these issues.
Basically, we’re supremely glad the studios recognized the need for change in this case. While we still have a very long way to go as a culture in these arenas, at least it’s something.