Thanks to Joanna Chiu for letting us cross-post this past week’s series of posts for Vancouver’s Battered Women’s Support Services on media representations of violence against women in recognition of Prevention of Violence Against Women Week. Read the whole series at the BWSS Ending Violence blog and enjoy this final article.
But all over the media, footage of a woman being punched in the face can be used to promote a reality show, a video of a woman in a neck brace after “rough sex” can be used to promote a vegetarian diet, and artists rapping and singing in a mansion filled with corpses of women hung by chains can be passed as an “artistic” music video.
If you keep watching those shows, supporting the same artists and organizations, playing violent video games or subscribing to the same magazines without thinking about what you’re accepting, like it or not, you are actually supporting violence against women and girls.
The philosophy of Battered Women’s Support Services is that battering does not take place between two people in isolation—violence and abuse happens in a social context, and is deeply rooted in a system that supports the right of some people to oppress others based on privileges such as gender, race, religion, class, sexual orientation, age and physical ability.
The kinds of systems of oppression that perpetuate violence against women are reflected in and promoted through the media, so for Prevention of Violence Against Women Week, BWSS asked me to help bring together media makers and activists in dialogue about how to end systemic violence against women and girls.
Throughout the past week, my blog posts have discussed different messages in the media that take away the agency of survivors of violence and marginalized groups—misrepresenting them instead with highly damaging ideas: Women are sluts, women of colour are really big sluts, women are asking for it, women are crazy “psycho bitches.”
Those media messages, brought to you by the 3000 ads you see every day, and from a myriad of news and entertainment outlets, promote a culture of violence—and a culture of silence.
The debilitating fear, shame and self-blame that many women feel after surviving sexual assault, domestic violence or abuse keep most from reporting the crimes to police, and even from telling their closest friends and family. As a result of this culture of silence and victim blaming, 97% of rapists will not spend one day in jail (Source: RAINN). Read more