In the article “Why Is There So Much Movie Violence Against Women” from The Guardian, reporter Natasha Walter discusses the increasingly graphic depictions of violence against women in television and film. While violence has always been a staple of the media, violence against women has recently escalated in its graphic nature and made depictions of physical abuse of women in films regular fare. Walter’s article focuses on the violent deaths of two women in Michael Winterbottom’s film The Killer Inside Me.
Walter says that Winterbottom claims his film does not condone the violence it portrays, but it is clear that much of the emotion inThe Killer Inside Me focuses on the suffering of women through physical & emotional abuse. This emotional investment combined with images of battered flesh normalizes and perpetuates violence towards women.
In addition, Walter laments that films such as The Killer Inside Me also encourage the idea that masculine assertions of power through physical violence are the makings of true love. At FVPC, our advocates often see clients who internalize the idea that love can overcome brutal abuse. And, when it doesn’t, these women often blame themselves for their abuser’s behavior. Sadly, because we know that abuse is a learned behavior which reveals itself through a need for power and control over an intimate partner or family member, not even love can change an abuser’s behavior. The only one to blame for the abuse is the abuser himself.
Walter’s article goes further in challenging the perception that women love violent men and that physical violence of men towards their female partners is acceptable. She says that this idea has permeated all facets of the media from teen dramas like the Twilight Series to “adult” films such as The Killer Inside Me. The depictions of female characters are often shallow and passive, “…with almost nothing except pretty underwear and bruised flesh.” Today, we rarely see strong women on television or in film, women are consistently portrayed as victims. While film makers have the right to artistic license, the constant portrayal of women as victims being brutalized by men normalizes and condones violent acts against women. It is the normalization of such violence that allows it to continue.
What can you do? Decide against spending money (and time) on films that depict gratuitous violence and/or women as victims. Choose, instead, films that highlight the strengths of healthy relationships where both partners are equal and are able to resolve differences without violence. Making a conscience choice on what you view allows you to take a stand on what is important to you!