a bird and a bottle

Is Violence Against Women Sexy?
March 22, 2007, 10:01 pm
Filed under: criminal justice, feminism/s & gender, media, sexuality

America’s Next Top Model has a lot of things wrong with it. If you can get past Tyra’s overacting and the fact that this show makes its bread and butter (no pun intended) off of telling beautiful and painfully thin young women that they are fat, it might be entertaining.

Sure, there was the whole pro-death penalty vs. pro-life-sentencing thing (to which I objected).

But this week really takes the cake. According to Jill at Feminste, via Jennifer at WIMN’s Voices, for this week’s photo shoot, the women got all made up and were dressed in revealing clothing…and then had to play dead. One is pushed down stairs and so has bruises all over her body. Another dies when her organs are stolen (was Stephen Colbert watching?), another is strangled. One woman “dies” when she is pushed off a rooftop. The photos are all here.

This whole thing is clearly about sexualizing violence against women, as Jill rightly notes. What bothers me so much about this series of photos is that violence against women is already closely tied to sex. Pregnant women, for example, are more likely to be domestically abused than their non-pregnant peers — as many as 324,000 pregnant women annually. After car accidents, murder is the most common cause of injury-related death among pregnant women. Statistics suggest that up to 23% of women seeking prenatal care have been domestically abused; for 40% of those women, they did not face any domestic violence until they became pregnant.

Seems to me like violence is already sexualized. In the case of pregnancy, it’s not because violence against women is a turn-on (as it is clearly intended in the ANTM episode), but as a means of control. But it’s all from the same assumption that violence against women is connected to — or even counseled by — women’s sexuality and the expression of that sexuality.

And here I thought TV these days wasn’t political…


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[…] offensive photos from the most recent America’s Next Top Model challenge. And I agree with Bean, Jill, Jessica, Jennifer Pozner that these photos are absolutely […]

Pingback by Thoughts on Global Feminisms #2 « MilbyDaniel

[…] that night, A Bird in a Bottle wrote: “Violence against women is already closely tied to sex. Pregnant women, for example, […]

Pingback by WIMN’s Voices: A Group Blog on Women, Media, AND… » Blog Archive » Top Model looks ugly to the blogosphere - thanks for rolling with our outrage!

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