A new submission inspires me to re-post this great collection of public resistance to advertisements that objectify women.
Adding commentary to the ubiquitous images that surround us can help us to notice, even if just temporarily, that our environment is toxic to our ability to think of all people as full and complete humans. Here are some inspiring examples.
1. An unknown artist pastes the photoshop toolbar on H&M posters in Germany (thanks Dmitriy T.C. and Alison M.):
2. Toban B. (a prolific SocImages contributor, by the way) sent us a set of photographs. These were snapped in Seattle, Washington by Jonathan McIntosh:
3. Commentary on a Special K. ad in Dublin, sent in by Tara C. (Broadsheet):
Hey there Special-K Lady.
I know you think I should diet
So I can be slim just like you.
thing is, I think I look pretty fabulous
Just the way I am
Also, Special-K tastes like cardboard
so piss off
4. This one was written on by a teenage girl in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. It reads: “I’m sick of sexually tinted images.”
5. Tricia V. sent us an example of this kind of resistance in Haiti. The billboard below is in for a brand of beer called Prestige. Tricia writes: “The writing [along the bottom of] the billboard says “Ko O+ pa machandiz” which translates as ‘Women’s bodies are not merchandise.’” She was impressed at the effort exerted to climb up and write across a full-sized billboard.
6. Ang B. snapped this photo in Madison, Wisconsin:
by Guest Blogger David Paul Strohecker, Feb 17, 2011, at 10:31 am
If you are alive these days, and not already part of the undead masses yourself, you probably have noticed a staggering increase of zombie references in film, television, pop culture, videogames and the internet.
Annual “Zombie Walks” in Pittsburgh:
But what is the zombie and where does it come from?
What makes the zombie unique from other movie monsters is its unique place of origin. Whereas Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolfman all have ties to the Gothic literary tradition, the zombie stands apart in having a relatively recent (and proximal) origin. Theorists of zombie culture (such as Kyle Bishop or Jamie Russell), attribute the origin of the zombie to Haitian folklore and the hybrid religion of voodoo. But the zombie didn’t make its away into American culture until the 1920s and 30s, when sensationalist travel narratives were popular with Western readers. Specifically, W.B. Seabrook’s book The Magic Island, is often credited as the first popular text to describe the Haitian zombie. Additionally, the work of Zora Neale Hurston (specifically her 1937 book Tell My Horse) explores the folklore surrounding the zombie in Haitian mythology.
(Still from I Walked with a Zombie, 1943)
With the development of the motion picture, the zombie became a staple of horror, and a popular movie monster. The zombies of White Zombie (1932), Revolt of the Zombies (1936), King of the Zombies (1941), and I Walked with a Zombie(1943), however, were not the cannibalistic creatures we now know. These zombies were people put under a spell, the spell of voodoo and mystical tradition. In these films, the true terror is not be being killed by zombies, but of becoming a zombie oneself.
Bela Lugosi as ‘Murder’ Legendre, the mad scientist and his zombie slave:
What all these films have in common is their depiction of Voodoo and Haitian culture more generally as dangerous, menacing, and superstitious. Those who study colonial history note that the messages contained in these films present stereotyped versions of Haitian culture aimed largely at satisfying a predominantly white audience. Many of these films also contain an all white cast, with several members in blackface serving as comedic relief for the more “serious” scenes.
It’s interesting to see how the zombie has morphed into the cannibalistic creatures we now know. While the original zombie is a powerful metaphor for fears of the non-white Other and reverse colonization, the contemporary zombie largely reflects contemporary fears of loss of individuality, the excesses of consumer capitalism, environmental degradation, the excesses of science and technology, and fears of global terrorism (especially more recent renditions of the zombie post-9/11).
For instance, George A. Romero’s famous Night of the Living Dead (1968), the first film to feature the flesh-eating zombie, is often remarked as a not-so-subtle allegory to the Civil Rights Era and the militant violence perpetuated by Southern states against the Black protestors, as well as a critique of the Vietnam War. Romero himself has stated that he wanted to draw attention to the war through the images of violence contained in the film.
Cannibal zombies in Night of the Living Dead (1968):
Similarly, the Italian zombie horror film Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974) reflects fears of environmental degradation and pollution. In this film, the zombie epidemic is caused by an experimental pest-control machine, which sends radio waves into the ground. Although it solves the local pest problem for farmers, it also reanimates the dead in a nearby cemetery.
Zombie consumers in Romero’s second zombie flick Dawn of the Dead (1978):
Later zombies are used to symbolize the excesses of capitalism and militarism, respectively. For example, in 28 Weeks Later (2007), we see the decay of social structures across the globe, as institutions that are supposed to protect us inevitably fail to do their job. In this scene, protagonists attempt to escape the city just before the military firebombs it:
As we can see, the zombie has a unique cultural history and serves as a powerful metaphor for social anxieties. This movie monster might have come out of the Caribbean, but it became a powerful representation of modern fears when it met the silver screen. Perhaps the current failure of global social structures (global terrorism, environmental catastrophes, and the current economic downturn) has prompted the most recent “Zombie Renaissance.” Or maybe we are just gluttons for the “everyman” tales contained in each rendition of the zombie apocalypse, a point made by SocProf several months back. I do not know what the future holds, but one thing is certain: the zombie will continue to haunt us from beyond the grave.
David Paul Strohecker is getting his PhD in Sociology at the University of Maryland. He studies cultural sociology, theory, and intersectionality. He is currently working on a larger project about the cultural history of the zombie in film.
What happens when huge numbers of people lose their homes? Hundreds of thousands of Haitians lost their homes in the giant earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince in January. Six months later, resource-poor and with little help from their government, they remain homeless. When there are that many displaced people, where do they live? Apparently, everywhere. This week NPR reported that about 1,000 people are living in 326 make-shift structures on an 8-foot-wide median dividing one of Haiti’s busiest roads:
If private property is off-limits, public space fills up, and temporary housing isn’t provided, where are people to go?
You can find the data and a breakdown of UNICEF data collection methods here. The data for many more countries are available there too. I can’t quite figure out why these particular countries were used in the image; they aren’t all of the countries with the highest percentages. As far as I can tell, the UNICEF data table only includes numbers for the “developing” nations and some countries from eastern Europe, which is UNICEF’s focus. But I do wonder what the numbers would be if you asked women in the U.S. a question along the lines of “is it ever acceptable for a man to hit a woman?” or “can you think of any situation where it might be understandable that a man would hit his wife or girlfriend?” You might get higher “support” for violence against women than you’d think. The UNICEF page doesn’t provide the wording of this question, which would be interesting to know.
That’s not to downplay the issue of women justifying or accepting violence against women, just that those of us in the “developed” nations need to be sure not to pat ourselves on the back too much about how enlightened we are about domestic violence.
And I can’t help but dislike the image, in that at first glance it would appear to be a pie chart in which all of the sections add up to 100%; really a bar graph would be a better way to illustrate this. But then, I had a dissertation advisor with a 5-page single-spaced document outlining his standards for data presentation.
UPDATE: Reader P. makes the point I was getting at above (that the wording might greatly impact how much “support” you find for violence against women) much better than I did:
What they were actually asked, in the MICS and the DHS (the two primary sources for the data), was this question:
“Sometimes a husband is annoyed or angered by things that his wife does. In your opinion, is a husband justified in hitting or beating his wife in the following situations:
- If she goes out with out telling him?
- If she neglects the children?
- If she argues with him?
- If she refuses sex with him?
- If she burns the food?”
I bet you get very different rates for different “justifications,” which is important both for data-gathering/presentation and for anti-domestic violence campaigns. And, again, I bet if you broke down various “reasons” for hitting a woman, I bet you’d get higher-than-expected acceptance of them in countries in the “developed” countries that weren’t presented in the table.