gender: violence

Abby Kinchy, Assistant Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Richard M., and Alana B., who blogs at Pecan Pie, sent us a link to a post by Maya at Feministing about an anti-domestic violence PSA from South Africa. The group that created the ad, People Opposing Women Abuse, set up an experiment of sorts. A man first played drums loudly in his townhouse, quickly leading to multiple complaints by neighbors about the noise and a written warning. On a different night, the group loudly played a tape of what sounded like a violent dispute between a man and a woman.  The reaction? Watch:

Aside from the obviously horrifying implications about domestic violence, I think it’s an interesting illustration of what people feel comfortable intervening or complaining about. As Maya points out in the original post, we all  like to think we would immediately be at the door or on the phone with police, but many of us have, at one point or another, encountered a situation where we didn’t know whether to intervene or not:

…I once sat in a subway station in Manhattan late at night and watched a man try to get a sobbing, drunk woman to leave with him. I hesitated, not sure what to do. A few minutes later the police arrived; someone had acted, but it wasn’t me. Just last week, I saw a man aggressively slap a woman’s butt as she walked past in my neighborhood. I looked the other way, and she didn’t say anything either. I ignore sexual harassment—directed at me or others—pretty much every day.

I suspect what is going on here is a mixture of factors: that we put violence between partners into a different, less serious category than, say, a fist-fight between strangers at a bar, an unwillingness to intervene in what many think of as a private family matter, and fear about our own safety if we get involved or call authorities, among others.

For a thorough discussion of the so-called “bystander effect,” and the complex reasons people may not report behavior they find inappropriate, check out this article (free of charge) from the Journal of the International Ombudsmen Association.

An anonymous frequent reader sent in this Calvin Klein jeans ad that has been removed from billboards in Australia after the Advertising Standards Bureau banned its display on the grounds that it implies sexual assault. I’m putting it after the jump because it might be triggering for some people.


Concerns about the use of full-body scanners at airports have been in the news repeatedly in the last week or so, though polls show high levels of support or at least tolerance for them among the American public. The major issue appears to be concerns about privacy, since the scanners provide an image of a person’s body through their clothing, which can be quite detailed, though others also mentioned health concerns and whether or not the scanners actually increase safety.

Amanda C. pointed out that the organization Fly with Dignity, which opposes the use of scans, has three rotating images on their website homepage, two of which clearly connect the scanning process with the idea of women being groped, complete with their tear-stained, distraught faces as they go through a pat-down (the alternative to a scan):

Apparently when trying to make a point about being degraded or victimized, men don’t make suitable subjects.

Amanda finds it disturbing that they’re equating pat-downs (your option if you refuse a full-body scan) with sexualized violence (and using images of traumatized women to do so).

Gizmodo has released a gallery of leaked images from body scans, if you’d like to see some examples (here’s a fuller story about the images—thanks to Alll for the tip.)

Thoughts? Is sexual molestation a legitimate metaphor here?

Cross-posted at Jezebel.

Since Lisa posted about the Old Spice guy today, I thought I’d post about a reaction to it. Stephanie V. let us know about Brut’s new feature on their website, Some Men Just Need to be Slapped. The…game (?) presents Man in a Towel, clearly meant as a parody of the Old Spice character:

You are then invited to slap him with various items:

In each case the hand shown slapping him is a woman’s, though for some reason when you click the option to slap him with Brut, it’s just an empty hand, not the actual bottle. Presumably her palm has Brut on it.

You can also then choose who should be the next slapping option — a character called The Incident (a parody of The Situation from Jersey Shore) or a mime:

Brut is going with the theme common in men’s hygiene products, which is to reinforce a certain stereotypical type of masculinity. Their website refers to Brut as “essence of man”:

As Stephanie says, “I didn’t even know they still made Brut — but clearly they’re trying to hone in on the Old Spice crowd by challenging their manhood.” And how better to denigrate a guy as insufficiently masculine? Show him being slapped by a woman, of course.

Cross-posted at Ms.

Happy A. sent in an article at comment dit-on about a new anti-domestic violence ad in Chile that tells men not to hit women by using openly homophobic language — specifically saying that a man who hits a woman is a “maricón,” the equivalent of “faggot”:

Translation of the main text: “A faggot is one who hurts a woman.”

It’s a blatant example of the way leftist groups often undermine each other, fighting one form of inequality or discrimination by reinforcing another (see: everything PETA ever did). The group that put out the PSA added that a man who hits a woman is “poco hombre,” or barely a man, reinforcing the idea that gay men are insufficiently masculine. As the comment dit-on post author says, “Clearly, a larger conversation needs to take place about what it means to be powerful and attitudes that marginalize the powerless.”

UPDATE: Reader chinamorena says, “adding an interesting layer is the fact that the second man who speaks in the ad is Jordi Castell, a publicly gay tv personality.”

JT sent along the following submission for grossest Halloween costume: the Jane Doe DOA.  That’s Jane Doe Dead on Arrival to you.  And isn’t she hot in her custom-made body bag and “choker”?

The description:

Although she doesn’t have much of a personality, she is still drop dead gorgeous in this body bag dress, I’m sure you have the personality and in this you will be gorgeous. Stretch satin mini dress with hood and a two way zipper front which can zip all the way up the hood, this is sleeveless and has a vest style finish at the back.  One breast has an outline of a body printed on to it an PROPERTY OF THE CORONER. Pack includes Coroners name tag fitted to a choker Jane Doe and matching fingerless gloves. (3 piece set). Fabrics are listed as 95% polyester and 5% spandex. and other accessories are available separately.

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

A former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, Linda McMahon (R) is running in Connecticut for a seat in the U.S. Senate.  In an essay at the Huffington Post, sent in by Dr. Caroline Heldman, Jackson Katz explains that her company has promoted “…some of the most brutal, violent and hateful depictions of women in all of media culture over the past twenty years.”  The violence and misogyny in professional wrestling is an issue that Katz has taken on personally in his documentary, Wrestling with Manhood.

Media actors, he argued, have not focused on the substance of her company’s product, so much as its amazing success.  Katz, however, challenges the idea that her business acumen is more important than the fact that she spent 20 years promoting and excusing violence against women:

…incredibly, the rampant misogyny of McMahon’s WWE has gotten scant coverage during this fall’s U.S. senate campaign in Connecticut. Political reporters have largely rolled over and bought the McMahon campaign line that what goes on in professional wrestling is only entertainment, that the WWE has gotten more family-friendly in recent years, and that we should all just lighten up and focus on what really matters about Linda McMahon’s stewardship of the WWE: her savvy business skills and experience.

Hoping to bring attention to the kind of messages the WWE sent under McMahon’s leadership, Katz put together this 11-minute clip from his documentary (trigger warning):

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Alex C. sent in an example of the belittling of men by men in the context of sport.  Two teenager fans of the Red Sox found themselves verbally assaulted by Yankee fans for the sin of sitting amongst them.  They surround the boys and sing, aggressively, to the tune of YMCA, after a mostly indecipherable lead in:

Why are you gay!
I saw you suckin’ it, D-I-C-K.
They have every size, you’re about to enjoy.
You can hang out with all the boys!
Why are you gay!
I saw you suckin’ some D-I-C-K.

It should be clear to everyone that this behavior represents a sick society. Team affiliation follows the rules of the minimal group paradigm: humans appear to be willing to form meaningful groups based on just about anything.  Sports just happens to be an arena in which hypermasculinity is rewarded, even demanded.  This makes it acceptable to be cruel to one another and makes it inevitable that that cruelty will take the form of hatred towards gay men (deemed masculine failures) in the form of homophobic slurs.  It’s not even that they think the kids are gay, but calling them gay is good for a laugh and a great insult.

This is what it’s like to be a man under patriarchy: moments of inhumanity in which men accept and reproduce hatred against others and moments of victimization when other men aim that hatred at you.

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.