Saturday, February 25, 2012

Violent Women, An Unusual Sight

The creation of superheroines brought to light discomfort around the notion that women can enact violence. Seeing women bloody, strong and violent seemed unusual to many, and created controversy as a result. While I believe women reserve the right to portray themselves and other women in any manner they feel appropriate, the confusion around women and violence is somewhat justified. 71% of physical acts of violence are executed by men on men, and men are 4 times more likely than women to be murdered, two times as likely to be beaten or punched, and ten times more likely to commit murder than women. These statistics show that an overwhelming portion of violence in the United States is created and maintained by men.
To a certain extent, a violent portrayal of women is unusual because of the gendered nature of violence- women are much less likely to be violent, so why should they be portrayed violently?  On the other hand, violence is strongly correlated with strength and agency, something that women have been fighting to maintain in the United States for centuries. While men may be more violent, it is necessary to portray women performing acts of violence in order to give them the power to protect and persevere. To often women are damsels in distress, the Achilles Heel for the team, and the weakest link. If we portray women through the socialized characteristics of masculinity, regardless of the controversy that surrounds violence, it will equalize women in mainstream society. Even if women do not embody violence, it is important that women are seen with masculine characteristics in order to blur the line between men and women. Having distinct categories for gender runs the risk of creating prejudice against men and women, and alienates everyone who falls between the line as well. That being said, it is important than we blur the line for men as well. It is important that we show men with feminine characteristics in order to familiarize ourselves with diverse gender expressions and to humanize those that fail to fit in between the two genders. We need to see women being violent, and we need to see men who refuse violence. We must become comfortable with a variety of gender expressions so as to create  equal and just gender relationships.

Statistics from:


  1. With determination and perseverance, views in society can be changed. However, this process usually takes so long and an enormous amount of effort. The reason I am pointing this out is for the fact that it would be great if the association between violence and capability could be blurred as well. You pointed out blurring the line between men and women by mix-matching gender traits but if the line I mentioned was blurred, then all the other traits wouldn’t be necessary to trade. Thus, the long and strenuous process of muddling would only apply to this simple aspect, hopefully ridding the idea of “only aggressive people can lead others” and other associations. Nonetheless, getting enough people on board for this cause would be nearly impossible, thus possibly never accomplishing this feat. This idea of meshing is just a hard concept to achieve.

  2. The fascinating thing about gender is that the two ARE inherently different. You mention "blurring the line" between the two genders, but what happens then? We respect manly women, simply because they are more like men? Women should not need to be portrayed masculinely in order to gain equality. When women have reach true equality, they will be accepted for the way they are, without having to be violent or manly just to prove themselves. However, this brings up the idea that if men and women are in fact inherently different, can they ever be truly equal? Should they be treated exactly the same, or should each gender be recognized for its specific strengths and weaknesses?


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