We live in a society that tolerates and accepts gender violence as inevitable. In part, this is because degrading and sexualized images of women are presented to us every day through the media that we consume. From violent video games to sexist ads and television shows that routinely feature women as victims of violent crime, our minds are saturated with sexualized violence. It is little wonder that in a society where we are bombarded with media that celebrates violence against women, we have been unable to significantly reduce incidents of domestic and sexual violence. What has to change so we can begin to see a reduction in violence against women?
At Blackburn Center, we believe that to end gender violence, we must get at its root causes. In our view, certain types of media can be as dangerous as any weapon. Violence against women in the media propagates violence against women in real life. Degrading, sexist images of women in the media encourages the idea that a woman’s value is limited to her sexuality. This all contributes to what is known as rape culture — an environment in which sexual violence is prevalent, normalized and excused in popular media and culture. This has to end!!
How can you get involved in the fight? The first step is to simply decide that you will no longer consume or purchase media that degrades women or promotes violence against women. Change the channel when an offensive show comes on, or refuse to purchase items that rely on sexualized images women to advertise. As the consumer, YOU hold the power to make media outlets and businesses accountable for their practices.
The next step is to become “media literate” by learning how to access, analyze evaluate, and create media. Don’t be a passive consumer of media!! Question what you watch, see, listen to and read. Ask yourself why certain images are being presented — what message is being sent? By becoming “media literate,” we can recognize and examine harmful messages that perpetuate violence against women. We can also create new media to challenge these norms. In the age of social media, anyone can have an image, video or message go “viral” — which is an amazing opportunity to push back against this culture of gender violence.
Next, keep on top of issues involving gender violence and the portrayal of women in the media by following us on Twitter and Facebook, and by following our blog. You can also sign up for our e-mail subscription service to get monthly updates and learn how you can join the fight to end domestic and sexual violence.
Finally, share this message about the media with others. Speak out against sexualized and degrading portrayals of women by talking to friends and family about the issue, or by contacting companies directly. By taking a stand against the depiction of women in popular culture, you can be part of the solution!
NOTE: While our Media Advocacy outreach is directed towards portrayals of women in the media and pop culture, Blackburn Center provides services to anyone who has been impacted by domestic or sexual violence, other types of violence or crime — not just women. Our services are available to all men, women and children, and are always free and confidential.
More Ways to Get Involved: