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.]
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.
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).
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?