I wondered about starting this off with me entering with a face covered in made-up bruises. I wondered what your reaction might be. Would this be a more entertaining way of opening my talk. Would it grab your attention right from the beginning? Would you be intrigued? Or repulsed? Or would you be indifferent?
Amnesty International has described violence against women as “the greatest human rights scandal of our time”. I would like to look particularly at mainstream TV and film as guilty of feeding a culture that sees this violence as “entertainment”.
Kat Banyard in her inspirational book The Equality Illusion says:
Violence against women is a phenomenon that knows no boundaries: race, wealth, culture, nationality – it cuts across them all. And it comes in many forms, domestic violence and rape being the most prevalent. One in three women have been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused at some point in her life.”Rape is a human rights violation and has been defined as a form of TORTURE by international criminal courts. I would argue that TV and film are exacerbating this issue with increasingly hardcore elements. Once seen, you can’t unsee it, and like abuse, it’s insidious, attacking women’s confidence and self-esteem.
Rashida Manjoo, a UN special rapporteur wrote a 4,000 word diagnosis of gender inequality in Britain, looked among other things, at sexual violence in the media. She says: “Have I seen this level of culture in other countries? It certainly hasn’t been so ‘in your face’. I am sure it exists in other countries but it wasn’t so much and so pervasive.”
Perhaps she saw a large billboard on her way to work saying “PUSSY: The drink is pure, it's your mind that has a problem”. Maybe in the newsagents she was greeted by the image of a woman bending over in a thong next to the Financial Times, or, one shelf up, a porn magazine entitled “BARELY LEGAL” with what looks to be a 14-year-old girl on the front cover. Perhaps she was listening to the radio hearing Rihanna singing “I like it when it hurts” or “Blurred Lines” (“you know you want it”), or perhaps she had a peek at some TV drama and watched a girl being tortured and raped while Gillian Anderson has sex with her “boyfriend” and the two scenes intercut – edgy?! Challenging?! You bet!
It’s just the daily assault of sexism that leaves me, for one, profoundly disturbed. The so-called trickle-down effect of porn into our culture is now nothing less than a tsunami and I would argue that we’re in a state of emergency, or a human rights scandal as Amnesty International says – and boundaries of acceptability no longer exist... read more: