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January 08, 2009

Never, Ever, Trivialize Rape, Unless You're a Feminist With a Deadline and a Need for a "Grabby" Column

Solid points:

Entitled “Burn It Down,” the video features images of magazine advertisements, mostly for high-end fashion brands, in which women are depicted in sexualized ways—for instance, there’s a Levis ad in which the outline of a jeans pocket is shown on a woman’s bare buttocks—or, in some instances, shown on the receiving end of stylized sado-masochism. Interposed with these images are notes for a sort of mini-lecture about violence against women.

“Violence and objectification are a normal part of women’s lives,” the viewer is told. “In the US, the media bombards us on a daily basis with images that regulate how we think: about our bodies, our sexuality, our ethnicity, our relationships, and our very existence.”

Wait a minute. Notice how glibly this script puts violence and “objectification” on the same moral plane, as if the models in the fashion ads, in being hired for display as sex symbols, were victimized in the same way as if they had been assaulted. To equate violence with “objectification” serves the propaganda purpose of expanding the universe of victimhood so as to include every pretty girl who’s ever been made uncomfortable by a stranger’s lingering glance.

It's simply not avoidable: If you want to increase the terror of, say, "objectification" by speaking of it as it were rape, you simply cannot avoid trivializing rape by reducing it to the level of "objectification."

I don't find feminists very persuasive when they natter on about decidedly secondary concerns like "objectification" in the first place. But hey, even if I buy this "objectification" is a Bad Thing, can we stop trivializing rape as Just Another Bad Thing, Akin to Objectification?

Superinflating your rhetoric like this grabs attention nicely and cheaply, but it also deflates the solemn horror of rape itself.

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posted by Ace at 03:42 PM

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