This article is focused on sexual violence and the visual images used within advertising, film, TV, music and pop-culture; which use the female body and the idea of gender as a social construct – to oppress women and their bodies, contributing to the idea that sexual violence is desirable, wanted, or something which can be done in return for money or goods, this is institutionalised within our consumer mindsets, contributing to rape culture.
The human body has become a commodity in the developed, capitalist world that we live in today – serving to further gender and socially discriminate us. When the world we live in is set to only be concerned by capital, the imperialistic ideology which has caused war and oppression lines the pockets of the ruling class; sexism, racism, ableism and homophobia are directly the consequences to the ruling of the privileged elites, over the most marginalised minorities.
Capitalism has long served the oppression of women, by profiting from the unpaid labour of Mothers with regards to child care, cleaning, cooking, (domestic work) – whilst the Fathers earn the wages outside of the home. This predates capitalism, however once industrialisation begun taking over our way of life, this became a way to control the genders and further separate them, by asserting each possessed a set of predetermined skills which neither could change or act outside of. These ideas were of course created by the privileged (the white upper class men) – the ones who had taken over from the dogmatic patriarchal systems of religion in society and re-invented the “modern” version that we still witness today, the same patriarchy which oppresses women, children and men themselves.
You Know You Want It – By Charlotte Farhan
This piece of art which I created depicts a woman with a gun in her mouth, my intention was to make it stylised as it pertains to the beauty myth which women are subjected to. As well as this the image has been created to blur the lines between violence and pornography which is often an accepted way in which to portray women in fashion advertising, film, TV, gaming and music videos. You are not meant to know if indeed “she wants it” whilst making the audience think about why any human would “want” violence? Why is violence against women sexy? Why are guns – weapons which kill millions, thought of as pleasurable phallic objects? Perpetuating the myth that women consent to sexual violence, that women “ask for it”, that the male genitalia is as dangerous as a gun and women like this?
The goal with this piece of art is for the audience to be more aware after seeing this image, opening their eyes to the sexual violence which is used in everyday life – to sell products, to create “escapism” through entertainment, to objectify women in music videos and to render women complicit in their own objectification as simply a vessel – a commodity.
For Further Reading…
Sex and Violence in Advertising: How Commodifying and Sexualizing Women Leads to Gender Violence Shana Meganck
“Sexualized violence – It is the link with violence that makes the objectification of women a much more serious issue than the objectification of men. There is no doubt that men are portrayed as sex objects in advertising too; however, the most important difference between the objectification of a man and a woman is that there is no danger for most men. Whether in advertising’s portrayal of men (versus women) or in real life, the man is almost always in control. He is powerful, not passive. He is not likely to be raped, harassed, or abused. In conclusion, treating sex as a commodity, in conjunction with the system of gendered behaviours and expectations that constitute our ideals of masculinity and femininity, has produced a culture that eroticizes dominance and depersonalises sexuality, leading to the devaluing of partners in relationships and the increase in viewing women as objects, making it easier to violate them.”
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