May 28th, 2010 — Media, Marketing and Advertising, Sexualization of Girls, Victims & Dangers
I’ve noticed a trend in literature in the last few years: gratuitous rape scenes. Specifically gratuitous anal rape combined with demented torture.
I find this trend disturbing and I’ve boycotted the authors.
Not a sort of “I hate you now and I’ll never read you again,” boycott.
More of a “I don’t trust you now and I don’t want your demented images floating around in my head,” boycott.
The latest was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I could have done without the very graphic descriptions of torture, the very demented mix of sexuality and violence.
It’s not only in the fiction of male authors. It seems female authors are going for the emotional jugular and shock value as well. Specifically I’ll mention Kira Silak’s The White Mary and one of Janet Evonovich’s numbered novels. Both had incredibly horrific imagery of vaginal mutilation and anal rape.
I’ve gotten to where I don’t read much of the thriller mystery genre anymore.
It’s particularly disturbing when the author feels it necessary to graphically describe the rape, anal rape and torture of his or her own protagonist. Often times by someone they love or have a relationship with. Then the protagonist will spend maybe a day or a few hours washing herself off and going about her business, as if this is just what women should expect of the world and the men they are involved with.
There is a disturbing underlying emotion of hatred of female sexuality, a hatred of females in and of themselves, an objectification that goes beyond a one-night-stand-use-them-for-pleasure into women-are-disposable ideology. It’s an absurd notion that the witnessing of such horrific deeds – fiction or otherwise – passes for harmless entertainment in the plots of the stories.
It makes me wonder several disturbing things like:
How many men are jacking off to these images and creating an attraction to the mingling of misogyny, a fear and loathing of normal female sexuality and taking an an erotic pleasure in climaxing at the moment of a woman’s mutilation and even her naked death?
It also makes me wonder about the female audience. Why are we passively consuming graphic descriptions of rape, violence and torture of women in mass quantities of mainstream literature, music, television, movies and online porn and not offended by it?
I think there’s something wrong with both the men and women who are not offended. Mass desensitization to sexually violent misogyny can’t bode well for us.
It’s a form of vicarious rape of the masses of femininity. I don’t know whether its intent, in all cases, is to “keep women in their place” making sure that they’re aware of and just a little frightened about their physical vulnerability in this world – but I do think that’s the effect of it.
For more on this theory check out Misogynistic Violence for Breakfast where I discuss the sexuality violent graphic nature of commercials during family programming time.
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January 27th, 2010 — LOVE & Other High Risks, Sexualization of Girls, Victims & Dangers
Newsweek has an article about a phenomenon called Reproductive Coercion.
Essentially, the male in the relationship is coercing the female to become pregnant so he can control her forever, through the child. After the baby, he reasons, he’ll be able to control her forever. Her odds of leaving him to find another man lessen and he will have more control over the rest of her life. Having a baby only strengthens her resolve to stay in a dangerous relationship.
New research suggests that reproductive coercion is often found where physical and emotional abuse is found. Controlling his partner is the same motivator as all other forms of abuse, and one of the mechanisms for controlling his partner is trying to get her pregnant.
He may insist she not use birth control, monitor her menstrual cycle, flush birth control pills down the toilet, forbid her from seeing a doctor or going to a family planning clinic, and refuse to use a condom or poke a hole in one.
Like domestic and dating violence, the rate of reproductive coercion for teenage girls mirrors the rate for adult women.
The difference being that teenage girls have little experience with relationships and often don’t know that what is happening to them is wrong, dangerous, controlling or abusive.
The boundary between reproductive coercion and relationship violence—and whether there is, in fact, a boundary at all—is a difficult issue for health-care providers to address. In some cases, it can fit a spectrum of other abusive behaviors, from threatening to physical violence, that create an imbalance in a relationship’s power dynamic. “Just like violence, it’s a power thing,” says Walker, who has seen patients whose boyfriends monitor their periods to ensure they’re not taking Depo-Provera contraceptive shots (which often cause women to skip their period). “The man is taking away a woman’s power to decide she’s not going to have a child. Still, the line is unclear. Miller, for example, would be hesitant to categorize reproductive coercion as a form of partner violence, since many states have laws mandating reporting of such incidents. “I’m not sure that a young woman telling me that her partner flushed her birth control down the toilet necessitates me reporting that to the authorities,” says Miller. In these situations, Miller has two concerns: getting the teenager onto a birth control she can hide from her partner (possibly Depo-Prevera shots, which last three months and are administered at a doctor’s office) and building a relationship with the patient to explore the possibility of ending the relationship.” What we hear from domestic-violence survivors is they don’t like being told they have to leave a relationship,” says Miller. “So instead of saying, ‘This is an abusive relationship,’ our counseling is very much focused on having them explain how this affects their health.”
In every situation, every abusive relationship is about control.
The best prevention is to talk with your daughter about her right and responsibility to control her own body, her own mind, her own choices, her own life, her own future, her own decisions, her own reproductive system, her own friends, her own job, etc.
To control ourselves is our inherent birthright.
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January 11th, 2010 — Feminine Heritage, Mentors, Role Models, Peers, Politics & Legislation
I finally got assigned a Sister with Women for Women International.
Your sister is: Bora Tabu M’Kabonge, she lives in DRC.
She is in the Tuonembele woman group.
I’m super-excited about this because it gives me something tangible and relevant to do to change the International situation around the world.
I’m convinced no International initiative can be successful as long as the situation for girls and women remains so dire. To continue any peace-seeking process by trying to fight darkness is essentially futile and temporary.
To introduce light in the darkness, hope where there was despair, independence where there was powerlessness, autonomy where there was victimization, money where there was poverty, love where there was hatred and fear, respect where there was disrespect . . . that is the only thing that might work.
I’m not waiting around for governments to fix it. Look at history and see what governments do and have always done – play around with men and their versions of power and largely ignore the victimization and oppression of women around the world. Do what you’ve always done and get what you’ve always gotten. War and suffering, more war and suffering.
It’s time to do something else.
It’s time to take action for women. If women are independent, autonomous, and financially secure they become more difficult to victimize and oppress.
For $27 a month I can do that.
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November 16th, 2009 — Media, Marketing and Advertising, Victims & Dangers
The following is a press release issued by Parents Television Council at parentstv.org. I’m printing the release in its entirety because the information is so important.
In a new special report, the Parents Television Council found that storylines depicting violence against females are increasing and being shown more graphically and in ways that have not been seen in the history of television.
The PTC’s report, Women in Peril: A Look at TV’s Disturbing New Storyline Trend, examined fatal and nonfatal female victimizations on prime time broadcast television and found that there was a significant increase in all forms of female victimization storylines; an increase in the depiction of teen girls as victims; an increase in the use of female victimization as a punch line in comedy series; and an increase in the depiction of intimate partner violence.
“Our new research points to a disturbing trend: by depicting violence against women with increasing frequency, or as a trivial, even humorous matter, the broadcast networks may ultimately be contributing to a desensitized atmosphere in which people view aggression and violence directed at women as normative, even acceptable,” said PTC President Tim Winter.
In October, actresses like Nicole Kidman testified before the Congress that Hollywood probably has contributed to violence against women by portraying them as weak sex objects. We all must pay attention to the fact that this is a problem in our society. The fact is that children are influenced by what they see on TV and that certainly includes media violence, said PTC Director of Communications and Public Education Melissa Henson.
The study compares the qualitative and quantitative differences in the treatments of violence against women on prime time broadcast television between 2004 and 2009. PTC analysts examined all primetime programming (excluding sports and news programs) on the major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC)* during the February and May 2004 and 2009 sweeps periods for a total of 209.5 hours of programming.
- Incidents of violence against women and teenage girls are increasing on television at rates that far exceed the overall increases in violence on television. Violence, irrespective of gender, on television increased only 2% from 2004 to 2009, while incidents of violence against women increased 120% during that same period.
- The most frequent type of violence against women on television was beating (29%), followed by credible threats of violence (18%), shooting (11%), rape (8%), stabbing (6%), and torture (2%). Violence against women resulted in death 19% of the time.
- Violence towards women or the graphic consequences of violence tends overwhelmingly to be depicted (92%) rather than implied (5%) or described (3%).
- Every network but ABC demonstrated a significant increase in the number of storylines that included violence against women between 2004 and 2009.
- Although female victims were primarily of adult age, collectively, there was a 400% increase in the depiction of teen girls as victims across all networks from 2004 to 2009.
- Fox stood out for using violence against women as a punch line in its comedies — in particular Family Guy and American Dad — trivializing the gravity of the issue of violence against women.
- From 2004 to 2009 there was an 81% increase in incidences of intimate partner violence on television.
“Our study today serves as a clarion call to all Americans about a critical issue with dire consequences. We are calling on television producers and network executives, members of the advertising community, elected representatives and appointed government officials, and most importantly, the viewing public, to stand up against this disturbing trend. In a country where more than 60% of children have been exposed to violence in their daily lives, according to recent research by Justice Department, we must take the utmost care not to normalize violent behavior – especially violence against women – through our television programming,” Winter added.
To read at the full report and view video clips from the study, visit:
*CW and MyNetworkTV did not exist in 2004. (Gossip Girl surely accounts for some of the increase.)
To speak with a representative from the Parents Television Council, please contact Kelly Oliver (ext. 140) or Megan Franko (ext. 148) at (703) 683-5004.
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August 12th, 2009 — Disney Princess Culture & Fairy Tales
My daughter, like every five-year-old girl loves the Disney Princesses. I mean, we can’t really walk through any store without seeing clothing, dolls, books, backpacks, flash cards, puzzles, games, dress up clothes, videos, bed spreads or shoes that aren’t logoed with these girls.
Since banning the princess paraphernalia we like to play a little game. She tries to think up a princess who was an empowered girl and I explain to her why that princess is not an acceptable role model.
What’s wrong with Ariel, The Little Mermaid? Ainsley asks.
First, Ariel made a deal with the devil, Ursula is pretty much the evil devil character in the story. You must never assume the devil will look a certain way. You should never believe anyone who tells you they can give you something you desire if you give up your talents. Because most likely they are lying.
Second, Ariel had the gift of a beautiful voice. That’s a talent given to her by God. When God gives you a gift or a talent you don’t ever trade that for some guy. I don’t care who the guy is, if he loves you, there will be room for your gifts and talents to flourish.
Third, Ariel fell for the first man she saw. Smart girls date and have a few boyfriends before they settle down and get married. See, it takes practice and trying different boyfriends out before you really know what kind of man will be best for you. Never marry the first man you see.
Fourth, Ariel gave up her family for the prince. True love will never require that you abandon your parents or siblings or friends or life. If a man wants you to give up family or friends to be with him, then he doesn’t really love you.
Fifth, Ariel gave up her voice. No man worthy of your love will want you to give up your voice. You have important things to say, valid and worthy things. Any man you marry should encourage you to say what you think and voice your opinions. Don’t ever, ever let a man silence you.
Give a girl you know an alternative to Disney’s version of girl. Try something likeThe practical princess, and other liberating fairy tales or missing piece meets big o where the messages are you can save yourself and you’re already whole and complete.
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