Sexual/ domestic assault found in Media

Social Media

Social Media is one of the most popular ways of communicating and sharing views, ideas, experience’s and opinions with other users. Social Media has become one of the biggest outlets in our society today. Unfortunately, when it comes to serious issues like sexual assault social media can depict ideas and behaviors that promote our culture to be rape-prone. Sexual violence is often treated as something that isn’t prevalent or taken serious. In the book, Sociological Spectrum, the article titled Its Not Just a Joke Michelle Bemiller and Rachel Schneider discuss Social Media, and the ramifications in the article it says;

“We explored the sexist content of 153 Internet jokes. Our analysis demonstrates that sexist jokes offer portrayals of misogyny that serve many functions, some of which include the sexual objectification of women, devaluation of their personal and professional abilities, and support of violence against women”

Imagine how detrimental it is for survivors to see traumatic experiences similar to their own used as a joke or something to be laughed about. By approaching sexual violence with a nonchalance attitude social media shows that the issue is not one that that is taken very seriously. Not only are those promoting the idea that domestic/sexual violence is okay, but they are prolonging or even diminishing the healing process of victims. Social Media should be used to in a positive way by empowering and uplifting others, instead of victimizing those who are already victims.

Bemiller ML, Schneider RZ. It’s not just a joke. Sociological Spectrum. 2010; 30: 459-479.


The television is a primary cultural source of media. Weather your watching to catch up on the news, view movies, sitcoms, or guilty pleasure reality TV shows majority of people of all ages can agree that they are exposed to this media. The problem is this source of media is so commonly publically viewed that most don’t realize that domestic violence is cinematically portrayed throughout weather it is in shows or advertisements. Combining violence with humor not only insinuates that violence is a humorous matter but also suggests that this type of behavior is viewed as acceptable to society. Shows like SNL,family guy and south park are just some of the few notorious for turning serious, offensive situations into jokes. In a study conducted in 2009 researchers found that over a 20-year span advertisements on television portraying violence towards males, increased from 13.6% in 1989 to 73.4%. In contrast the researchers also compared this to the humorous ads associated with violence towards females, which grew from 0% in 1989 to 10.8% in 2009. This shows that violence and sexual assault with men and women is becoming downplayed as a serious issue and is now becoming a topic that people view as humorous. This gives growing generations the false idea that these are acceptable actions. When we continue to watch these shows we are promoting these beliefs and encouraging the continued use of these offensive jokes.

Gulas CS, McKeage KK, Weinberger MG. It’s just a joke: Violence against males in humorous advertising. Journal of Advertising. 2010; 39: 109-120.

Mass Media

Domestic violence and sexual assault is shown throughout the media and on the news. Media’s attitude when exposing domestic violence crimes tends to come off in a way that desensitizes its viewers making the crimes seem like a less serious issue. Countless celebrities, professional athletes etc. are constantly all over the news for issues with domestic violence. Just recently in September 2014 NFL Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice was caught on an elevator survallience camera getting in a fight with his fiancé Janay Palmer and knocking her unconscious. Back in 2009 famous singer Chris Brown was arrested and charged with attacking his girlfriend at the time, Rihanna who was thenreportedly hospitalized with bruises on her face. Not only were these violent attacks made light of in the news but were also used as jokes. In October 2012 three males who attended Waverly high school put on a skit re- enacting the domestic abuse incident with Chris Brown and Rihanna at their homecoming rally in front of thousands of students, staff and family members. When the video of the skit went viral viewers became angry not only that this situation was made fun of but that the administration would let students act out something that showed such ignorance Many of the students who attended the High School seemed confused that some viewers were offended by their skit. Many Students told news cast that they didn’t know why they upset anyone and that people were making a big deal out of the whole thing. This goes to show how younger generations perceive issues of domestic violence because it’s constantly portrayed to them as something to be laughed at. The problem this creates is that these are the same kids who will grow up and commit violent acts. In the article Meet the Predators Mchorter conducted research on violence and rape asking the question: are rapist responsible for violence generally? This is what she concluded:

“Yes. The surveys covered other violent acts, such as slapping or choking an intimate partner, physically or sexually abusing a child, and sexual assaults other than attempted or completed rapes. In the realm of being partner- and child- beating monsters, the repeat rapists really stood out. These 76 men, just 4% of the sample, were responsible for 28% of the reported violence. The whole sample of almost 1900 men reported just under 4000 violent acts, but this 4% of recidivist rapists results in over 1000 of those violent acts. If we could eliminate the men who rape again and again and again, a quarter of the violence against women and children would disappear.”

This means those who commit crimes of violence against women most likely also commit other crimes of sexual and physical abuse, but if its consistently portrayed as a joke the cycle will never be terminated.

Thomas Macaulay Millar, “Meet the Predators,” Yes Means Yes Blog 12 November 2009


Domestic Violence can be very skewed when depicted in news articles and other forms of journalism. Reporters and publishers have a big impact on readers views by how they chose to portray the stories and the victims. In the article Trial by Media: Black female Lasciviousness and the Question of Consent Author Samhita Mukhopadhyay discusses visions of female sexual power and a world without rape. She says:

“ Representations of rape in the mainstream media are often jarring and inadequate, and are usually biased. With headlines like “ Girl Who Cried Rape” and “She Was Asking for It,” depictions of rape cases that are not drenched in misogyny or racist stereotypes are hard to come by.” And that “ Mainstream media coverage almost always puts the burden of proof on women to prove that a rape- or a series of rapes, torture, sexual slavery or any of the other forcible sex crimes women face- did in fact occur”

Constant victim blaming in mainstream media can result in criminals going unpunished for their actions and victims receiving no justice for the crimes that have been committed against them. When cases of abuse or violence conclude with no punishment not only does it portray to the community that these crimes are acceptable but that the women was at fault, fueling the unstoppable cycle. In the article Covering crime without re-victimizing the victim Authors William Cote and Bonnie Bucqueroux discuss differences between community newspapers and big-city media when it comes to covering stories on victims of violence. They believe community newspapers tend to be more sensitive to the feelings of victims and their families when portraying crimes because of the close relationship they have with the people they serve. In contrast, reporters from bigger places who go to collect information from small communities might not have the same relationship or concern with victims. In the article a young women from Michigan discusses how her town felt when big city reporters came to gather information about the death of two local girls who had been murdered by a serial killer. She says:

“I don’t know any other way to put it – they made the girls out to be sluts, as if they deserved what happened to them, she was appalled by the reporters’ arrogance and that they had betrayed the community by casually “trashing” the girls’ reputations and then disappearing before anyone could confront them.”

Coverage of stories should educate and promote change, not victimize and prolonging the victims progress toward healing and recovery.

In Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World without Rape (Berkeley: Seal Press,2008), 151-61″

Victims and the Media – Michigan State University School of Journalism.” Victims and the Media – Michigan State University School of Journalism. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.


Movies and adult porn films can be one of the leading factors that lead to domestic violence. In movies and in porn they tend to be guilty of glamorizing physically and sexually abusive relationships. In theaters recently millions of people lined up to watch the film based off one of the best selling novels “Fifty Shades of Grey.” In the movie Christian Grey a handsome, charming billionaire becomes obsessed with a shy girl named Anastasia. He begins stalking and physically harming Anastasia during their BDSM sexually violent relationship. Some people were furious urging that the film be boycotted for its use of violence saying The National Center on Sexual Exploitation and battered women’s shelters pointed out that this is what police would consider to be domestic violence. Porn is also linked to sexual abuse. According to the director of a pornography documentary of the top 250 bestselling porn movies a high percentage depict violence against women. Increasingly violent porn can be detrimental to our youth because it is the biggest sex educator among young men. Men have a tendency to act out what they see on screens so if violence is depicted in porn and in films that they view we are giving young boys the false idea that this is the type of relationship they should strive to have. In the Article “Pornography and Media” Gail Dines and Robert Jenson discuss the implications that porn has on our society by watching and analyzing the most commonly watched videos. They found that the second largest satellite provider, EchoStar Communications Corp., makes more money selling hard-care pornographic movies through its satellite subsidiary than all of the playboy holdings combined. They also found what the call the four strong elements of the pornographic:

  1. Objectification: when “a human being, through social means, is less than human, turned into a thing or commodity, bought and sold.”
  2. Hierarchy: a question of power, with “a group on top (men) and a group on the bottom (women).”
  3. Submission: when acts of obedience and compliance become necessary for survival, members of oppressed groups learn to anticipate the orders and desires of those who have power over them, and their compliance is than used the dominant group to justify its dominance.
  4. Violence: when it becomes “systematic, endemic enough to be unremarkable and normative, usually taken as an implicit right of the one committing the violence.”

In all the videos they analyzed the elements were present throughout, but because most mainstream pornography does not include graphic depictions of violence which leads many to assert that such pornography is not violent yet there is subtle violence throughout.

“Slapping and pulling hair are common. Women’s bodies are jerked around to accommodate male desire. And there is violence in the kind of sexual intercourse that is common in pornongraphy- the hard, repetitious pounding by the man into the woman for several minutes at a time, sometimes vaginally and anally at the time.” and they found “In several videos, it seemed clear the women were in pain and had to focus on carefully positioning their bodies to get through the scene.”

In the United States alone $10 billion a year is spent on pornography and worldwide sales as high as $56 billion. Sales and rentals of pornographic videos in the United States total more than $4 billion a year. The problem is some men are modeling the behavior they see in pornography. If the release of violent porn is continued and continues to grow this could be the way most younger generations educate themselves and this is what they will assume to be normal.

Dines, G., & Jensen, R. (2004).   Pornography and media: Toward a more critical analysis. In M. S. Kimmel and R. F. Plante (Eds.), Sexualities: Identity, behavior, and society. New York: Oxford University Press.

Bergen, R. K., & Bogle, K. A. (2000). Exploring the connection between pornography and sexual violence. Violence and Victims , 15(3), 227-234.


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