New York Times’ film critics discuss films with female violence

Not as interesting as I thought it would be, but worth a read:

Gosh, Sweetie, that’s a big gun

MANOHLA DARGIS It’s no longer enough to be a mean girl, to destroy the enemy with sneers and gossip: you now have to be a murderous one. That, at any rate, seems to be what movies like “Hanna,” “Sucker Punch,” “Super,” “Let Me In,” “Kick-Ass” and those flicks with that inked Swedish psycho-chick seem to be saying. I like a few of these in energetic bits and pieces, but I’m leery of how they fetishize hyper-violent women. Part of me thinks the uptick in bloody mama and kinder-killer movies is about as progressive as that old advertising pitch for Virginia Slims cigarettes, meaning not very. You’ve come a long way, baby, only now you’re packing a gun and there’s blood on your hands (or teeth).

This part resonated with me most; it’s by Dargis:

It’s tricky whenever a woman holds a gun on screen, even if the movie is independently produced and the director is female. I’m glad that “Meek’s Cutoff” exists and that Kelly Reichardt is making a new film every few years — long may she direct. I complain about the representations of women, but I’m more offended when in movie after movie there are no real representations to eviscerate, when all or most of the big roles are taken by men, and the only women around are those whose sole function is, essentially, to reassure the audience that the hero isn’t gay. The gun-toting women and girls in this new rash of movies may be performing much the same function for the presumptive male audience: It’s totally “gay” for a guy to watch a chick flick, but if a babe is packing heat — no worries, man!

To my surprise, I’ve become a fan of the TV show ‘Nikita’- I say ‘surprised’ because I don’t like violence – not even as “entertainment” – but somehow I tune in every Thursday night to see Nikita kick ass. I think it’s because I need to see female representation – especially of empowered, strong women. It actually reminds me of when I was a child, growing up watching Charlie’s Angels. I thought those gals were awesome. And, somehow – in all those years in between Charlie’s Angels and Nikita – there have been few – very few – females fighting for justice. That’s pretty sad.

Violence against women: Progress or Propaganda?

I haven’t had time to read this yet, but it looks interesting:

Protection and Justice for Women, Progress or Propaganda?

Media headlines, as well as law enforcement rhetoric, frequently tout claims of the great strides being made in reducing and responding to rape, domestic violence, and other violence against women. But recent research and analysis of governments’ own figures suggest that, in reality, there has been little to no significant progress at all—not in the U.S., nor in other developed countries. And in developing countries the violence against women only seems to be getting worse.

Women human right defenders experience prejudice, exclusion and violence

There’s been a lot of talk lately about women in journalism facing risks their male colleagues don’t. (Even us female bloggers face more threats and intimidating comments than our male counterparts.) And, similar to female journalists, women human rights defenders face risks and attacks that are specific to their gender. I went to Guatemala on a human rights delegation and witnessed this first hand. Most of the women working in domestic violence (for instance Norma Cruz, recipient of the Women of Courage award), violence against women, and women’s issues/rights had received death threats or were attacked (either their person or their office was attacked). Here’s a recent report announced on AWID that provides more details:

AWID

The report affirms that “women defenders are more at risk of suffering certain forms of violence and other violations, prejudice, exclusion, and repudiation than their male counterparts. This is often due to the fact that women defenders are perceived as challenging accepted socio-cultural norms, traditions, perceptions and stereotypes about femininity, sexual orientation, and the role and status of women in society.”

Report’s Findings

The risks and violations reported in the period 2004-2009 include (a) threats, death threats and killings; (b) arrest, detention, and criminalization; (c) stigmatization; and (d) sexual violence and rape. Some of the striking findings include:

  • “An alarming number of women human rights defenders and their relatives have paid the highest price for their work.” There were 39 communications to the Rapporteur regarding killings and 35 communications regarding attempted killings.
  • Defenders in the Americas are most likely to face threats, death threats, killings and attempted killings; more than half the communications relating to death threats concerned defenders working in the Americas, highlighting Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Honduras, and Peru. “Among the groups which appear to be most at risk are women defenders working to fight impunity for alleged human rights violations”. Special mention was made of risks to women trade unionists, women indigenous rights activists, and women environmental and land rights activists.
  • Violations against defenders working on LGBT issues were also noted.These ranged from judicial issues (arrests, judicial harassment, administrative detentions, etc.) to restrictions in freedoms of assembly, but also killings,rape and sexual violence, physical attacks, and stigmatization. Concern for LGBT defenders were specifically highlighted in Africa (Sudan and Uganda).

The report “reveals a worrying trend of criminalization of the activities carried out by women human rights defenders and those working on women’s rights or gender issues throughout the world.” This includes arrests and criminalization of the defenders’ work, as well as criminal investigations and irregularities relating to due process and fair trial procedures. “By contrast to Central and South America where threats and death threats are most commonly reported, arrests and criminalization were most commonly reported in Asia and the Pacific.” China and the Islamic Republic of Iran are mentioned in relation to concern for arrests and prison sentences. Europe and Central Asia are also mentioned regarding arrests, detentions and criminalization.

Press release: Women’s Media Center statement on the Arizona shootings

The Women’s Media Center just released this message:

Women’s Media Center Statement on the Arizona Shootings

The Women’s Media Center (WMC) is stunned and saddened by the attack on Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, and her staff and supporters. As media cover this tragic story, they have a special responsibility NOT to legitimize violent rhetoric that targets and attempts to silence women leaders and progressive voices. The Women’s Media Center will continue to monitor the coverage of this story, and encourages media to make the link between hate speech and violence, and to condemn violent rhetoric. 

Vitriolic, sexist, and racist language is a form of hate speech and bullying. Examining recent political intimidation can shed a light on the toxic political and media landscape in which the Arizona shootings took place. Here are some highlights from the past two elections that paint a broader context and help us analyze this tragedy. See recent examples here.

To speak with WMC Board Member, author, and activist Gloria Feldt about the lessons learned from this horrible episode, contact the press contact above.Read her moving piece here, in which she explains that this incident is less about decrying our declining civility and more about teaching everyone from their earliest years how a democratic government works, because we are our government.

Our hearts go out to the victims of this violence, and hope that through critical examination of the cultural factors that produce such tragedies, that we prevent them in the future, because violence against one woman is violence against all.

Press Contact: Yana Walton – yana@womensmediacenter.com or 212.563.0680

A double standard when it comes to athletes and domestic violence

Great article by Jeff Benedict – A double standard when it comes to athletes and domestic violence. This could also be called: Why do athletes believe heavyweights can fight lightweights? Because that’s what I’d like to know.

It’s pretty sobering to visualize a big muscular athlete knocking down a woman or pummeling a grandfather. Against the sheer violence involved in each of these cases, it’s easy to overlook the fact that each of these incidents played out in front of plenty of witnesses. Typically, domestic violence is the kind of crime that goes on behind closed doors, where bullies carry out threats and violence without fear of being seen or caught.

But athletes are less prone to fear consequences, especially when it comes to their off-the-field behavior. Fields confronted his ex-girlfriend outside a child care facility at 5 o’clock on a Monday afternoon. Rodriguez couldn’t have picked a more public place to berate his girlfriend and strike her father than at a ballpark, never mind the fact that there were security guards on hand.

Most of us would consider this behavior pretty brazen. Yet athletes who run afoul of the law are used to getting out of jams. Look at Stephenson. While starring at Abraham Lincoln High in Coney Island Stephenson and a teammate were arrested in October 2008 for allegedly sexually abusing a 17-year-old girl inside the school. At the time, Stephenson was being recruited by schools like North Carolina, Kansas, Memphis, USC and many others. He was on his way to becoming the all-time leading scorer in New York state history and leading his team to four consecutive New York City championships. He’d become such a big phenomenon that a courtside announcer had nicknamed him “Born Ready” and a reality web series about him was being planned under the same name.

All of that was jeopardized by the felony sexual assault case pending against him. But here’s where it pays for an abuser to be an athlete. After Stephenson pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, the University of Cincinnati offered him a scholarship. He became the Big East’s Rookie of the Year in 2010 and was selected drafted by the Indiana Pacers in the second round of June’s NBA Draft. It was as if the incident at his high school didn’t matter.

Jeff Benedict is a distinguished Professor of English at Southern Virginia University and the author of several books on athletes and violence, including Out of Bounds and Pros and Cons. Check out his website at jeffbenedict.com.

Violence against nurses: Steven Slater’s experience can’t compare

If you believe flight attendants have it bad, read this article about violence against nurses. I hope Slater doesn’t consider nursing as his next career choice.

Nurses fear even more ER assaults as programs cut

Emergency room nurse Erin Riley suffered bruises, scratches and a chipped tooth last year from trying to pull the clamped jaws of a psychotic patient off the hand of a doctor at a suburban Cleveland hospital.

A second assault just months later was even more upsetting: She had just finished cutting the shirt off a drunken patient and was helping him into his hospital gown when he groped her.

“The patients always come first — and I don’t think anybody has a question about that — but I don’t think it has to be an either-or situation,” said Riley, a registered nurse for five years.

Violence against nurses and other medical professionals appears to be increasing around the country as the number of drug addicts, alcoholics and psychiatric patients showing up at emergency rooms climbs.

Enough is enough

“It’s come to the point where nurses are saying, `Enough is enough. The slapping, screaming and groping are not part of the job,'” said Joseph Bellino, president of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety, which represents professionals who manage security at hospitals.

Visits to ERs for drug- and alcohol-related incidents climbed from about 1.6 million in 2005 to nearly 2 million in 2008, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. From 2006 to 2008, the number of those visits resulting in violence jumped from 16,277 to 21,406, the agency said.

Nurses and experts in mental health and addiction say the problem has only been getting worse since then because of the downturn in the economy, as cash-strapped states close state hospitals, cut mental health jobs, eliminate addiction programs and curtail other services.

Acceptance of violence

“There’s a real acceptance of violence. We’re still dealing with that really intensely,” said Donna Graves, a University of Cincinnati professor who is helping the federal government study solutions.

Robert Glover, executive director of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, said economic hard times are the worst time for cuts to mental health programs because anxieties about job loss and lack of insurance increase drug and alcohol use and family fights.

“Most of them, if it’s a crisis, will end up in emergency rooms,” he said.

What’s chance got to do with it?

Chance encounter led to artist’s slaying in Montgomery, MD, authorities say

One of the most frustrating issues to those of  us interested in gender-based violence is to read media accounts that gloss over, or worse, ignore the issue of gender and, in particular, violence directed at women and girls. Today’s article in the Washington Post (following up on this week’s missed opportunity in the HIV gel article) declares a “chance encounter” led to a women being beat and stabbed (with scissors) by a man she knew. In fairness, it says the authorities claimed this (was it their choice of words? is it the media’s responsibility to realize it was gender and not chance – just as it was skin color and not injustice that claimed the lives of African Americans?).

While it states Williams, (I hate to say this but) the “alleged” killer, didn’t know she was coming (how did they know this? did he say it? was it the truth?), he did, in fact, know her and was present in the studio. Had a man walked in would he have done the same thing? This is the key question. If this was a racially-motivated or even a homophobic-motivated crime, society would be asking the SAME QUESTION. Once we start asking ourselves if gender was an issue, we’ll be able to detect gender-based violence. Targeting women solely because of their gender is a hate crime, discrimination, and mysogynist. Only when we become aware of gender-based violence will we be able to work towards preventing it. The next question is, how many murders do we have to witness before we gain this awareness?

Here was another story this week –

Suspect in Maryland could be serial killer

Twice this guy is suspected of killing a mother and daughter. Does anyone question why he’s targeting mothers and daughters and not fathers and sons or fathers and daughters?

Police Chief Roberto L. Hylton said the same suspect may be responsible for the slaying of another Maryland mother and daughter, and also is being investigated for homicides in other states.

The unnamed man, currently held on weapons and sex charges, holds two master’s degrees.

Hylton said he is well read and very familiar with law enforcement.

He predicted the man will be remembered as “one of America’s most infamous killers.”

He will be remembered. But his victims will not. Nor will many be able to understand that their gender was their risk factor, and that, ignored, it will allow more women and girls to be killed by men in senseless, tortuous deaths.

And then there was this one…

Family finds body of missing mother Jenna Lord

“Them cops didn’t find nothing — not a damn thing,” Lord’s grandfather, Vincent Caruso, told The Philadelphia Daily News.

From the beginning, the family had complained that police in Camden, Collingdale, Pa., and Collingswood, N.J., had been reluctant to search for Lord because of her rough past.

The police didn’t even want to look for her – she wasn’t quite “worth” looking for, was she? Jack the Ripper was able to terrorize London because he was, after all, killing the “dregs” of society – prostitutes – and getting away with it. To this day, serial killers often target prostitutes because they know society might even appreciate ridding it of such “evil” women (murder, in fact, is the number one cause of death for prostitutes). Having said this, society has pimps, drug dealers, gang members – and I’ve yet to see serial killers try to wipe out these guys. So again, we see the gender component at work.

Try this exercise. Fill in the blank, replacing Jenna Lord as the victim. In which scenario would society have more outrage?

Two (white men) followed  ___________, killed ____________, and set __________ on fire.

Answer choices:

 (a) the black couple          (b) the gay man          (c)  an Amish person

Any of these choice would indicate the killers were targeting people for their race, sexuality or lifestyle and the media would highlight this. But targeting random females – for no apparent reason – other than they are women – gets virtually ignored. It’s insane.

1.5 to 3 million women are killed by men each year. Often, the men are known to the women. Other times, they are not – they are just women – and that’s all it takes.