Liss details all the reasons why The Last House on the Left is dangerous crap. Liss's post is brilliant, of course, but I wanted to add a thing or two.
One thing is the assumption that a rape victim would even want revenge in the first place. Not everyone thinks that way, even in the worst circumstances. "You hurt me so I'm going to hurt you back only more." Some rape victims might very well think, "I hurt. I want to heal and feel better." They may not worry about the rapist getting "justice". It may not be the most important thing on their minds at the moment. The idea that once a rape occurs, the victim's one and only thought is about her rapist is nonsense.
Second, the idea that a woman's family would seek revenge might very well be a reason NOT to tell them it happened in the first place. A woman might have the most supportive family in the world wherein love abounds and all is unicorns and roses. Why would she say something knowing that it would cause her family to be split apart by arrests and jail time for well-meaning family members? Even the knowledge that family can and would do that--even if they aren't ever caught and sent to jail--is traumatic. And she might blame herself. It's that knowledge that caused Maya Angelou to remain mute for years of her childhood.
Third, most women are raped by someone they know. Many times it is someone whom they love--an uncle, a father, a beloved family friend. So the relationship is complicated. This person hurt her, but she trusted him and loved him. She doesn't want to see him hurt because she still loves him--for teaching her how to color, for being one of the few people to run with her and pay attention to her, for making her laugh, for taking her swimming. She'll never trust him again but those other good memories remain. They are tainted now, of course. She doesn't wish to tear her family apart with people taking sides. She's afraid that some people whom she adores may not take her side. She questions her ability to tell who is a good person and whom to like and trust. She questions her judgment and so questions everything. Sadly, all of that takes place long before any penetration happens, if it ever happens, it really doesn't matter--the come-on is enough to create that self-doubt. Now she wonders if anyone will bother paying attention unless they are getting some sexual thrill from it. She wonders if there is something inherently unlovable about her that precludes her from receiving love without providing something sexual in payment. If it's a boyfriend, it means that this is someone she chose to associate with and that carries its own hellacious doubts and self-questions.
Does this sound like a good environment to indulge in revenge? No, right?
But this movie makes all those assumptions and presents them to the world as a normal response to rape. It feeds into the cultural narrative that "if it were me, I would so kick his ass/Bobbitize him/get him back." It presents this mindset as the natural one and so anyone who does not respond this way is suspect. A woman who does not tell her family, who does not hunger for blood revenge, who is conflicted about her feelings regarding her rapist is subjected to even more doubt from those around her causing further trauma because she's not "reacting right".
God help her if it happens more than once with more than one person.