Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hollywood and Violence against Women

I always liked Nicole Kidman because among the woefully untalented Hollywood actors she is an exception. Now that she spoke out against the way women are treated in Hollywood productions, I like her even more: "Nicole Kidman testified before a US congressional panel on violence against women, conceding that Hollywood probably has contributed to the problem by portraying women as weak sex objects." It's high time somebody said that and finally recognized that the images of women in movies and on television widen the gender divide and promote all kinds of violence against women.

American society is deeply uncomfortable with the idea of sexuality. The female body in the media is first sexualized and then punished for reminding us of the uncomfortable reality of sex. At the same time, the idea of the irreconcilable differences between men and women is pushed on every corner by all kinds of self-help gurus, talk show hosts (Dr. Phil is a prime example), authors and journalists. Violence and rage against women that we observe both on the screen and in real life is partly a result of this mystique of femaleness. Look at the seemingly innocuous comedy "What Women Want?" The very manner of formulation the question sets the group called "women" apart from the group called "people." The title (and of course, the plot) of this idiotic movie promotes the idea of unavoidable female difference.

Women are a mystery to be solved, a puzzle that you have to ponder helplessly, a tough nut to crack. Is it any wonder that faced with the necessity to solve a mystery that cannot possible be solved (simply because it does not exist) society often turns to violent means of cracking the female puzzle? Turning women into the incomprehensible, confusing and consequently scary Other cannot avoid leading to violence against them.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree. I've been so happy to see more TV shows with strong female characters, even if they sometimes backslide.

I have real trouble watching shows and movies these days that portrays women as weak, utterly helpless creatures who must be sheltered and protected by a man -- whatever man is nearby and handy.

People think I'm crazy because I am for radical equality -- law-mandated 50% of legislatures, 50% of Supreme Court slots, 50% of corporate boards made up of women in my fantasy-land.

But I don't think that's nearly as crazy as how women are treated around the world right now.


-Mike

Clarissa said...

I'm getting more and more happy that you wrote that opossum post. If you hadn't, I would have never discovered your great blog and a blogger who shares my radical crazy fantasies.

As for TV shows, look what happened with my favorite Law and Order: SVU. They just couldn't live with having a strong female character in Olivia Benson and recently have been doing all they can to make her as pathetic, disturbed and victim-like as possible.

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