Violence against Women in Popular Culture

References to and depictions of violence toward women are very prevalent in popular culture. They seem to have been for some time. Today, for instance, while I read through political blogs on the internet, I came across a clip from Bill Maher’s HBO television show that made light of sexual violence toward a female legislator, Michelle Bachmann.

This encouragement of violence toward women was treated as a joke. The audience hooted and hollered. But if someone took this response as acceptance of violence toward women who disagree with men, it could contribute to the problems women already face with violence.

I saw another example of violence toward women when I watched a Cary Grant film with some friends. The film was called Philadelphia Story, and in it, Cary Grant acts as if he wants to hit Katherine Hepburn’s character, but instead he grabs her roughly and knocks her down. I suppose this is supposed to be better, but the violence is still a little shocking to me.

But, perhaps the strangest case of violence toward women I saw was the movie Whip It, starring Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page. The movie glorifies violence between girls. Roller Derby players who knock out each other’s teeth and leave each other bloody are treated as heroines. Meanwhile, throughout most of the movie, the mother of one of the girls who wants her to succeed in non-violent activities is treated as a villain. While the acting is good and many of the characters are likable, it is hard not to think that a movie, geared toward teenagers that portray violence as “cool” could be a bad influence. Because there have already been cases in the news where teenage girls have bullied and even killed other girls, this may be the sort of influence people should avoid exposing teens to.


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