gender: violence


The things women have to put up with. Most husbands, nowadays, have stopped beating their wives, but what can be more agonizing to a sensitive soul than a man’s boredom at meals. Yet, lady, there must be a reason. If your cooking and not your conversation is monotonous, that’s easily fixed. [Ed. – Though apparently boring conversation is a life sentence.] Start using soups more often, with lighter, more varied dishes to follow. Heinz makes 18 varieties. You can serve a different one every day for three weeks. Use them in your cooking too, and strike some new flavours that will lift ordinary dishes out of the commonplace.

Vintage ad found here thanks to Laura R.

The video clip The Olsen Twins Walk Into a Bar might be useful for sparking a discussion of the way in which, once shrouded in humor, nearly anything is fair game.

Found here via Copyranter.

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.

In a comment to another post, Umlud provided a link to this post from Thoughts from Kansas about the following joke allegedly told by John McCain in 1986 when speaking to the National League of Cities and Towns:

Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, “Where is that marvelous ape?”

Here is an image of the original story about the incident in the Tucson Citizen (link to image found at Think Progress). I know it’s small and hard to read, but I wanted to provide the original source.

According to Think Progress,

McCain said he did not “recall” telling the joke. More recently, the McCain campaign scheduled a fundraiser with a Texas oilman who compared rape to the weather while running for governor. “As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it,” said Clayton Williams in 1990. After public outcry, the event was “postponed.”

From what I recall, the comment by Williams was widely credited as a major reason Ann Richards won the gubernatorial campaign, becoming the second female governor of Texas.

Huh. I was looking up some information on Ann Richards really quick and discovered this list of the governors of Texas and discovered there have only been 6 Republican governors of Texas, and two of those were right after the Civil War, when the Republican party had quite a different platform and orientation. The other 4 have all been since 1979. And my home state of Oklahoma has only had 4. This shouldn’t be surprising, given that the Southern swing to the Republican party occurred mostly after the Civil Rights movement and Civil Rights legislation signed into law by President Lydon Johnson (who correctly predicted that the Democratic party would lose the South as a result of the policies), but it still surprised me.

Thanks for the link, Umlud!

Melissa at Shakesville has captured these examples of Reuter’s “Odd News” lists (see here).  She collects instances of:

…the wire services’ insistence on trivializing women’s lives, actions, experiences, and issues by categorizing as “Odd News” stories about the mistreatment of women, or stories about women that aren’t “odd” in any way aside from the fact that there’s a women at their centers.


A woman kidnapped for rejecting a man and sexualized prison politics.  How odd!

A woman was violent; another was sexually assaulted.  Women should have the right to nourish the next generation?  How odd!

Women are abused and a desperate girl is given away in a poker game.  Jealous husbands shouldn’t be allowed to do illegal things.  How odd! 


Rape, how odd!

CORRECTION/CLARIFICATION: I am reposting this because I want to make clear that a couple of things that people picked up on in the comments are MY mistakes/confusing wording, not Jackson Katz’s. First, in regards to the Rambo movies, I was confusing Rambo:First Blood Par I, which came out in 1982, with Rambo:First Blood Part II, which came out in 1985, which is what Katz is quoting in the movie. I just googled the movie to find the year it came out and didn’t notice it was for Part I, not Part II. I have corrected that below.

As for the Terminator image, that is entirely my fault. I could not find the exact image Katz used in the documentary, though I searched for quite a while. I just put up an image I meant to be representative of both Terminator movies, and the one I used, as the commenters point ou, was not a good example of what I was saying. Since I can’t find the image Katz used, I have taken the Terminator image out of the post.

I just wanted to a) correct those two things and b) make it clear that they were my mistakes, not Katz’s.


In the documentary Tough Guise: Violence, Media & the Crisis in Masculinity, Jackson Katz discusses how images of masculinity in pop culture have changed over time, and particularly how in the 1980s and 1990s images of male heroes got larger and more menacing, as well as hyper-violent. He uses Humphrey Bogart, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as examples. I’m basing my discussion of the images from movies on Katz’s analysis.

In this image of Humphrey Bogart (found here) in The Maltese Falcon (1941), his gun is very small compared to his body. His body language is not particularly imposing or threatening. Keep in mind this was during World War II (though the U.S. had not joined yet) and that machine guns had been invented during the Civil War. So Humphrey Bogart conceivably could have been shown holding some sort of automatic weapon instead of a small handgun.

Then we have Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry, from 1971 (found here). The gun has gotten much bigger and the body posture a bit more threatening.

And in 1985 we get Rambo:First Blood Part II (found here), a military revenge fantasy in which a Vietnam vet gets to finish the war the U.S. military wasn’t “allowed” to win, presumably because of weak, feminized elements that controlled the government. Stallone’s body is huge and muscular, and the gun has gotten larger and more deadly.

Katz attributes these changes in images of masculinity to a growing concern in U.S. culture that we are somehow being “feminized” and becoming weak. He argues that the loss in Vietnam (or lack of an outright win, if you prefer) as well as political and economic gains by women and non-whites caused a cultural panic about the status of white men. As these men were supposedly losing power and status in everyday life, cultural images of them emphasized strength, power, and aggression as a version of ideal masculinity.

Here is a clip from Tough Guise:

And here’s a clip that takes the Tough Guise intro but adds some other images:

I was thinking about this because when I was in Oklahoma, I was around a lot of trucks, and specifically, a lot of old farm trucks. And one day when I was standing next to an old Dodge Ram, it hit me how much less…I don’t know…imposing it was than newer trucks. It seemed like a cute little toy truck. Here’s a picture of a 1985 Dodge Ram (found here):

The 2005 version of the Dodge Ram (found here):

Looking at my family’s old farm trucks (and we’ve got a collection of rotting, rusting trucks dating from the 1950s on; I did not post pictures of our trucks because my grandma would kill me for exposing our farm junkiness to the world), I kept thinking, “We used to haul cattle with that?” or “That was considered sufficiently masculine at one point?” And the answer is, yes. Yes, they were.

Now, I’m certain that a lot of the redesigns had to do with advances in safety and efforts to improve fuel efficiency (by making the truck body more rounded, for instance). But there also seems to be a pattern in trucks today to design their headlights and grills to look sort of “mean,” if you will–like they’re snarling or growling.

I’m not necessarily saying there’s a connection between Katz’s work and the way trucks have been redesigned to look meaner and more aggressive…but it just got me thinking.

Of course, as a farm kid, what strikes me about trucks is the way the newer designs make them less functional for the types of things you see people doing in truck ads. While the cabs have gotten larger, making room for more passengers (that is, more like a car), the beds have gotten smaller, so you can’t carry as much (or as long of) stuff in them–and carrying stuff in the back is what you supposedly need a truck for. Yes, you can still stick more stuff in the back of, say, a new Dodge Ram than in a lot of cars, but I’m just sayin’. (Also, you’d be shocked at how much stuff I can get in the back of a Honda Civic if I lay the seat down and am really motivated. And my mom once brought a 130-pound calf home in the backseat of a car–I had the fun job of trying to keep him from attempting to crawl into the front. And we had a woman in my hometown who used to haul pigs around in the backseat of her Caddy.) A lot of things we used to haul around in the back of our trucks wouldn’t fit in the beds of new trucks, or you couldn’t fit nearly as much of them. And of course the majority of people who buy trucks for their big motors aren’t doing the types of things (driving through extremely rocky or muddy country, hauling trailers full of cattle, etc.) that require such a huge motor in the first place. So why not just buy a car?

Just some thoughts that struck me while hanging out on the farm.

The things here trivialized… not trivial. This ad made me shudder more than once. If you’ve ever been stalked, peeped, or sexually assaulted, you may want to skip this one.

It’s an ad for a cell phone kind of like the iphone (sorry iphone people, I’m sure it’s nothing like the iphone).

The phone doesn’t appear to be sold in the U.S. Via AdFreak.

In a 1987 article titled “Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals,” Carol Cohn discussed the way in which “defense intellectuals” (the scientists and strategists behind war) used language that was rife with sexual metaphors, sexual imagery, and the promise of sexual domination. Here are some of the words and phrases she heard these men (mostly) use to refer to military weapons:

“penetration aids”

“vertical erector launchers”

“thrust-to-weight ratios”

“soft lay downs”

“deep penetration”

“protracted versus spasm attacks”

“releasing… megatonnage in one orgasmic whump”

India’s first explosion of a nuclear bomb described as “losing her virginity” and then the United States asked whether they should “throw her away.”

An explanation of why the MX missile is to be placed in new silos: “because they’re in the nicest hole—you’re not going to take the nicest missile you have and put it in a crummy hole”

One journalist described a nuclear blast like this:

“Then, just when it appeared as though the thing had settled down into a state of permanence, there came shooting out of the top a giant mushroom that increased the size of the pillar to a total of 45,000 feet. The mushroom top was even more alive than the pillar, seething and boiling in a white fury of creamy foam, sizzling upward and then descending earthward, a thousand geysers rolled into one. It kept struggling in an elemental fury, like a creature in the act of breaking the bonds that held it down.”

With this in mind, consider the costume worn by Miss Atomic Bomb (1957). Yes that is a mushroom cloud or, dare I say, an “orgasmic whump” spreading out all over her. A full-size cardboard cut-out Miss Atomic Bomb, that is Lee Merlin, welcomed Gwen and I to the Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas. Here she is in all her glory:

I want to give a shout-out to Vivek who mentioned Merlin in response to our previous post on the Atomic Testing Museum.

Reference: Cohn, Carol. 1987. Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals. Signs 12, 4: 687-718.

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 don’t have an image for this post. What I have is a quote from Bill Napoli, a South Dakota state senator. He doesn’t believe that bills banning abortion should have an exception in cases of rape, because if the woman “really” deserved to get one, she could get it under the health-of-the-mother exception. Here is a direct quote:

A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

I came upon part of this quote in issue #40 of Bitch magazine (p. 17), but I found the full quote here (scroll down a little past halfway).

What’s interesting to me here isn’t about abortion per se, but the implication of who would and wouldn’t “really” suffer if they were impregnated from a rape. Apparently if you aren’t a virgin or religious, or ARE a virgin but weren’t necessarily planning on staying that way until marriage, then being raped and getting pregnant just wouldn’t be as traumatic as it would to “nice” girls.

It’s also creepy how we often like to think in rather fine detail about the ways good little virgins can be violated. I mean, he could have just said “she was raped,” but no, he decides to make it a bit more graphic. And how bad is “as bad as you can possibly make it”? Is there some measuring stick for how traumatizing different violations are, so you can be sure the girl has suffered enough to qualify as a deserving victim?

It reminds me of an article I read about the myth of the black rapist and the virginal white victim in the post-Reconstruction South (sorry, I don’t remember the article); the author said that detailed stories about how animalistic, savage black men had ravaged delicate white women served as a form of folk porn–people repeated the stories over and over, embellishing as they went. Telling rape stories provided a socially sanctioned outlet for people to talk about sex even in “nice” society, since you were only doing it to warn others of the danger, of course.

So even though there’s no image, I thought the quote might spark some interesting classroom discussion, either about abortion or about sexuality, victimization, and the enduring idea of the deserving and undeserving rape survivor. Or, hell, even a discussion of the social construction of porn–I mean, if you took Napoli’s exact words and put them in a different context and didn’t tell people he was a senator discussing a proposed bill, I bet a lot of people would think it was obscene but interpret it very differently since he was just talking about a hypothetical situation while discussing serious matters such as the law.