A violent culture begets a violent crime

A print ad for designer clothing
A print ad for designer clothing

In recent news, a former VH1 reality TV star, Ryan Jenkins, killed his model girlfriend, Jasmine Fiore, cut her up in pieces, and stuffed her in a suitcase. It’s pretty disturbing to imagine that something as horrific as cutting up a body and packing it into a suitcase could actually happen. What is even more disturbing is that I’d seen this image before.

However, it wasn’t due to a story about domestic violence — it was an advertisement I had seen (for designer Guiseppe Zanotti’s line Vicini) of a woman’s body stuffed in the trunk of a car with just her legs sticking out under the hood. [Warning: Disturbing images on the jump page.]

(About-Face wrote about this ad in the Gallery of Offenders)

It’s not just the crime itself that is disturbing, but also the fact that, as a society, we take violent images, especially those against women, lightly. Such violent images are deemed as “art”, but what does such art express? What do they say about actual violence against women? How can we condemn these heinous acts and not the “art” that glorifies them?

The examples are endless.

A photo from an <em>America's Next Top Model</em> challenge in which contestants were challenged to model as if they had been murdered
This contestant's challenge was to pose as if she had died from being pushed down the stairs

One America’s Next Top Model challenge had contestants pose dead in grotesque crime scenes. These models depicted glamorous women who had been electrocuted, disemboweled, shot, decapitated, strangled, pushed off of a roof, drowned, poisoned, pushed down the stairs, and stabbed — all in the name of art and entertainment.

A recent window display by Barney’s in New York featured female mannequins wearing fancy dresses with blood splattered all around them. Thankfully, the people took action against the display and Barney’s was forced to take it down, but why did Barney’s have that display to begin with? Especially when one out of three women experience sexual assault and/or abuse in their life (that statistic is only based on crimes that are reported).

A recent window display at Barneys
A recent window display at Barney's

This is not to say that perpetrators of violence are influenced to commit violent crimes against women because of what they see in advertisements or on television. However, we should take responsibility for the ways women are objectified in our society. We have to ask ourselves: are rates of sexual assault and domestic violence related to objectification and violence against women in the media?

— Alyza

4 thoughts on “A violent culture begets a violent crime

  1. I have recently noticed, that the tolerance I once had for shows like Law & Order and other shows that perpetuate violence like there’s no tomorrow, has gone down drastically.

    I think it may be a sign that I’m maturing, what I never could understand though is how programming aimed at adults is supposed to be a measure of maturity.

    From shows set up to feature women “cat-fighting”, to crime dramas, I don’t see anything mature in watching those shows at all. I find many more mature commentary on society, from shows like Spongebob or other cartoons. That people act ashamed of watching, if they’re an adult. Like saying, “Oh I watch it with my kid” I tell people, that adults create the cartoons, therefore it’s a show aimed at adults as well as kids.

    I’m not about to suggest shows like Ni-Hao Kai Lan are going to appeal to adults, although Ni-Hao Kai Lan is one of the cutest shows in my opinion. However, most shows particularly Spongebob have very clever commentaries on society.

    I also feel this way when it comes to video games. I’m tired of being told the games I play are kiddy, or stereotypical for me to play as a female gamer. I’m sorry it doesn’t make me an adult, because I’d rather play something fun and lighthearted like Super Mario over a game where your supposed to massacre a bunch of innocent people.

    On this note, did you know that Nintendo really has been doing a great job at advertising towards their female consumers, in a respectful way. Showing women solving puzzles in games, and being smart. This is one of the main reasons I’m extremely loyal to Nintendo. They’re the only gaming companies, to take on the challenge of appealing to an audience outside of 20-year old males seriously. Due to that, the Wii is the best selling console in the market right now.Okay okay, enough Nintendo fan-girl rambling.

    The point I’m trying to make, is that the majority of shows aimed at adults are demeaning to people in a general sense, and yes woman more often than not. I feel people would be much better off, and happier, if they watched cartoons rather than watching the latest drama with disturbing and or violent imagery.

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