gender: violence


At Weird Universe.

This one I put out there for debate.

I don’t get a chance to watch the many dance shows out there, but I’ve seen a bit and I have a question for those of you who’ve been watching them more carefully.

The video below is of Sébastien Soldevila and Mimi Bonnavaud dancing at the Cirque de Demain festival (thanks for the info, netrus).  In the dance, a woman is torn between rejecting a man and being powerfully drawn to him.  I’ve noticed that this theme crops up frequently in even just the little bit of dance programming I’ve watched. In this video, you get the idea in just the first few seconds, though you might want to watch the rest because it’s awesome. (Video title, btw, is not mine.)

I can see why choreographers return to this theme again and again. I think this is a common human experience (lord knows I’ve been there) and great fodder for art.

My question is: Is this theme gendered? That is, is it usually the woman who is desperately trying to escape the man and her attraction to him, and not vice versa?

I ask because, if it is, what we’re really seeing is not just a drama about a conflict between attraction and repulsion, we’re seeing a drama in which men are allowed to be deaf to women’s insistence that they want to be left alone, released. Really, deep down, this narrative tells us, she wants him. Therefore, it’s perfectly ok for him to ignore her “no.” If he just follows her for long enough, grabs her to make her look at him one more time, forces her up against his body enough, then she will relent.

From a different perspective, this is a man who is stalking and harassing her, but the narrative (which almost always ends in her giving in to him/her desire) suggests that this is perfectly reasonable, even passionate, loving, devoted behavior.

Do we sometimes (or ever) see women doing the stalking and harassing in these choreographies? Or is it usually the man?

Also in “no” doesn’t mean “no”: caveman courtship, it’s not “no” if she’s a zombie, you may say “no,” but your perfume says “yes,” and some pretty grotesque t-shirts.


Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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.

[I posted this a couple of days ago but accidentally deleted it last night, so I’m reposting it. I apologize for the confusion, and for the loss of all the comments. I’m going to see if I can recover the comments, but I don’t know how it’ll go. Thanks to Dangerous Minds I was able to save my original commentary.]

Our tech wizard, Jon S., and reader Katie C. sent in a link to a Danish campaign by the organization Children Exposed to Violence at Home to raise awareness of domestic violence. The campaign is called “Hit the Bitch!” and features a game where you can smack a woman around using either a mouse or your own hand if you have a web cam:


The game has now been limited to Danish users only.

The woman gets increasingly bruised and bloodied as you hit her.  I forced myself to try the site and hit her twice, and it was honestly sickening to watch her head jerk backward or to the side and hear the sound of the slap and her reacting.  At the top, a counter keeps track; you start out as 100% Pussy, 0% Gangsta, but your Gangsta rating goes up every time you hit her:


Apparently, though, when you get up to where you’d be at 100% Gangsta, it instead says 100% Idiot, as though this is a real put-down that is going to make you think really seriously about domestic violence.  I am trying to think of any context that would make this seem like a good idea, or an effective way to combat domestic violence.  I mean, ok, yeah, I guess people might be made more aware of it after hearing about or playing the game, but is it likely to have any positive effect?

It seems more likely that people who don’t already take domestic violence seriously would either be uncomfortable, leave the site, and never think about it again, or find it funny to play for a few minutes just to see what would happen…and somehow encouraging people to slap around an image of a woman for fun seems like a really weird way to get people to think more seriously about domestic violence.

UPDATE: Comments closed.

Lisa recently posted about a woman who was denied health insurance due to having a C-section in the past; the health care plan would cover her only if she agreed to be sterilized. Mackenzie I.-T. sent in this clip from Anderson Cooper 360 about a woman who was dropped by her insurance company after she was raped, due to her doctors putting her on antibiotics antiretrovirals to try to prevent any possible infection with HIV and her need for therapy:

Embedded video from CNN Video


Cate M. emailed us about the promo for the movie “The Killer Inside Me,” saying,

The level of violence is at NSFW levels and quite possibly one of the most ‘trigger warning’ vids I’ve ever seen used to promote a non-horror film.

We get a lot of submissions about sexualized violence toward women, so I thought, “well, ok, we’ll see.” And then I watched it, and at 1:15 in had to pause because I was already horrified. Here’s the whole 5:42 promo. It’s Not At All Safe for Work, and you won’t want to watch it if scenes of sexualized brutality toward women would be a trigger for you. And also, I guess, Spoiler Alert, if that’s your main concern.

UPDATE: The promo keeps being taken down; here’s a link that works for now, but I don’t know for how long.

Clearly, Casey Affleck’s character is a sadistic asshole (the cigar on the guy’s hand), but in the promo, at least, the graphic, sexualized violence is reserved for women…who also appear to like it, at least for a while. Jessica Alba gives in to him, and apparently starts a relationship with him, after he pulls her pants down and whips her. Perhaps that’s because she’s a prostitute; of course she’d like a dominant man who plays rough, right?

The thing is, you could make this movie and tell the same story without actually showing all the violence in such a graphic way. Movies imply things all the time. It’s a choice to show this type of violence toward women as a form of entertainment…and to show the women liking it.

See our posts on increases in violence toward women on primetime TV, sexualized violence on TV crime procedurals, and the movie “DeadGirl.”

Parents Television Council just released their new data comparing the incidence of violence against women and girls by CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX during prime time sweeps in 2004 and 2009 (report here).  They found a 120% increase in depictions of violence against women and girls amidst a steady rate of overall frequency of violence.


They write:

Cumulatively, across all study periods and all networks, the most frequent type of violence was beating (29%), followed by credible threats of violence (18%), shooting (11%), rape (8%), stabbing (6%), and torture (2%).  Violence against women resulted in death 19% of the time.

Violence towards women or the graphic consequences of violence tends overwhelmingly to be depicted (92%) rather than implied (5%) or described (3%).

So those’re the numbers, how about some examples of the normalization of violence against women: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty, thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three, thirty-four, thirty-five, thirty-six, thirty-seven, thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty, forty-one, forty-two, and forty-three.


Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Victoria S. observed that, when 20-year-old Morgan Harrington went missing, the Nancy Grace show didn’ t do a story about missing Morgan Harrington, they did a story about the missing “co-ed beauty”:





As Victoria said, if any of us go missing, let’s hope we’re lucky enough to be beautiful with lots of photos of us posing with our pretty girlfriends and glamour shots in our sunglasses.

See a previous post arguing that missing children that get a lot of media coverage tend to be blond and attractive.


Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Rihanna’s first new single since getting beaten by boyfriend Chris Brown is titled “Russian Roulette.”  On the cover, she is wrapped in barbed wire with an eye patch that looks like a black eye:


The lyrics include:

And you can see my heart beating
You can see it through my chest
And I’m terrified but I’m not leaving
Know that I must pass this test
So just pull the trigger


So many won’t get the chance to say goodbye
But it’s too late too pick up the value of my life

Given the many, many young girls that blamed Rihanna for her beating, releasing a song that posits that love is simply dangerous is really… disappointing.”

You can read a more thoughtful discussion about this by Anna North at Jezebel.


Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.