Jessica and I have been working our way through The X-Files and it has struck me recently that the series has a tendency to take rape and non-consensual impregnation rather lightly in some circumstances. This treatment is especially surprising considering that one of the ongoing conflicts in the series' story arc is that Agent Scully's eggs have been stolen (leaving her infertile) and are being used by nefarious scientists to create alien-human hybrids.

Example the first: in the episode "Small Potatoes" a shapeshifter takes on the appearances of the husbands of various women and impregnates them. Most of the episode is a set-up for the final scene in which the shapeshifter takes on Agent Mulder's form and nearly seduces Agent Scully, until the real Mulder bursts through the door to discover the two of them on the couch. The conclusion to the episode is classic, and quite amusing, but writer Vince Gilligan works hard to keep the earlier rapes and impregnations from spoiling the light-hearted mood.

Example the second: in "The Post-Modern Prometheus" -- my least favorite episode thus far in the series, written by creator Chris Carter -- a stereotypical mad scientist (and/or his farmer father) create human-animal hybrids by drugging women and implanting embryos while they're unconscious. The hybrids are born with distinctive animal characteristics -- such as a chicken-women whose neck pecks like a bird -- with intended comedic effect. The "Frankenstein"-inspired episode ends with the villagers forming a mob to lynch the mad scientist, but he saves himself by pointing out all happiness he brought to the town through their children. All is forgiven! (The mad scientist is arrested, with an aw-shucks tenor.)

Come to think of it, non-consensual impregnations is a major theme of The X-Files. Numerous episodes feature it as a plot device (such as "Emily"), but the matter isn't typically considered to be as serious as I would expect.

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