Violence against women normalized in mainstream media

The release of

Photo Courtesy of the Public Domain

The release of "Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes" has elicited conversations over popular media normalizing abuse against women.

By Kaitlyn McCann, Columnist

Recently, five women were shot and killed by a gunman in a Florida bank. After entering the bank, 21-year-old Zephen Xaver forced the women down onto the lobby floor and shot them in the back of the head. He then called the police on himself, but would not allow anyone in the building to medically treat the women until he knew they were officially dead. Afterward, the police determined he had no plans on robbing the bank and no connection to any of the women. His motive is unclear, but there is no coincidence that his victims were five innocent women.

In a Washington post article, One of Xaver’s ex-girlfriends said, “Since the time we met, he had this fascination with death. It got worse as we broke up.”

Are our current gun laws enabling these predators further? There is a “boyfriend loophole” which congress is addressing that allows some domestic abusers and stalkers to obtain guns regardless of their crimes. Multiple states have already passed laws to close the loophole. Compared to other high income countries, women in the United States are 16 times more likely to be killed with a firearm. This is an extremely alarming and significant statistic that cannot be ignored.

Even after being reported for domestic violence, in many states abusers are still able to have possession of firearms. I can’t even imagine how scary this could be for their partners. This is something that needs immediate attention. There seems to be a consistent flow new stories of women who have reported their partners to the police, in some cases multiple times, but they end up dead or beaten because their complaints were not taken seriously.

Another man was arrested recently in Colorado on a terrorism charge. This 27-year old-went on a social media rant about his virginity. Authorities said he made several posts explaining his plan to shoot up a public place, “killing as many girls as I see.” This was the result of his frustration from being turned down by women. He posted these statements while on probation for threatening and stalking other women. These comments were posted around the same time that some women’s marches were scheduled to take place in the area, however, so he was quickly tracked and arrested.

There were also major concerns last week leading up to the Super Bowl. The game was held in Atlanta, one of the biggest sex trafficking hubs in the country, and was expected to be a major target for traffickers. The police were on high alert in the days leading up to the Super Bowl and many people spoke out on social media warning about the high risk. The Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force led an operation called “Operation Interception,” in which 21 men were arrested for arranging to have sex with underage girls around the time of the Super Bowl. Many of them traveled to Atlanta because they knew there would be an abundance of victims in the area. Some of these men were also discovered to be pimps who were scouting girls at the event.

Lately, it seems like the conversation of violence against women has been a major topic. Some of this discussion is surrounding the recently popular Netflix documentary “Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.” Following this documentary, there is also a movie about Ted Bundy coming to Netflix soon called “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” starring Zac Efron. This does seem like a lot of time for Netflix to be focusing on Ted Bundy.

The friends of one of Bundy’s 12-year old-victims spoke to ABC News and said “If we’re going to talk about Bundy, I want to focus on the victims, they’re the ones that need to be remembered. He has gotten all of the attention he deserves.”

Many people were angered after the trailer was released because of the way the directors portrayed the serial killer. Unlike the documentary, which gives respect and attention to the victims, the movie seems to focus on Bundy’s love life and his crushable charisma. By casting Zac Efron as Ted Bundy, many people have argued they are romanticizing his character instead of painting him out to be the true criminal that he is. It is true, the trailer for the movie is upbeat, light-hearted and charming. This has stirred up debate because such a dark issue should be taken seriously, and the brutal deaths of more the 30 women shouldn’t be glamorized.

The media provides a beneficial outlet to start the conversation of violence against women, but it can also be one of the contributing factors. Many of the men involved in such crimes, including Ted Bundy, have blamed their violent urges on pornography. In many ways, sexual violence is normalized in the media. Whether we are aware of it or not, from a very young age we are exposed to inherently misogynist and submissive views of women. Pornography is one area that makes sexual violence toward women a natural phenomena. In a patriarchal society where men feel entitled to everything, when they are rejected the sexual relationship they are are looking for, they resort to violence toward women. This is why rape is as common as it is, and is what the sex trafficking industry is based upon. Misogyny, patriarchy and sexual violence all go hand in hand.

The horrible reality of misogynist beliefs in our society results in fatal consequences for women. However, these stories of sexual violence in the media, although disappointing in frequency, only mean they are receiving more attention. With the growing number of women lawmakers in our country, surely something will change. These women see, understand and will continue to acknowledge the toxic masculinity embedded in society.

If not, it is at the expense and safety of innocent women everywhere.  

Kaitlyn is a freshman in Media.

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