Over the years do how many movies and TV shows have you watched in your lifetime? How many songs have you listened? Have you ever paid attention to what you were hearing or watching? How are your favorite artists and actors impacting you? Your children? Your teens?
The portrayal of violence as passion and dominance is love is a reoccurring theme in many of the media outlets we view or hear. These story lines imply that women want to be sexually assaulted and they will fall head over heels in love. What about emotional or verbal abuse? The movie/book TWILIGHT shows Edward stalking Bella, he manipulates her emotionally, he becomes extremely jealous and possessive because she is friends with Jacob. What about the lyrics to a song released in 1963 by The Crystals “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss). The lyrics say “ He hit me/And it felt like a kiss/He hit me/And I knew he loved me”. It was covered by Hole in 1994 and again in 2007 by Grizzly Bear. The song talks about how women should be grateful for the abuse. Lana Del Rey in 2014 wrote a song called “Ultraviolence”. He hit me and it felt like a kiss/I can hear violins, violins/Give me all of that ultraviolence.
These protagonists always seem to be portrayed in the story lines as the heart throb love interest, even though he has stalked her or has refused to take no for an answer. Many of you may have watched or read 50 Shades of Gray. Anastasia is viewed as a commodity of sorts because she has had little sexual experience. Abstaining form sex is a valid and personal choice, she is depicted as “naive”, incompetent and in need of a man to depend on. A man looking for a naive woman is probably not looking for an equal.
There is a book out called He’s Just Not That Into You. The book claims that if a woman becomes passive and fakes interest in having a relationship, then he gets “the thrill of the chase”. The less you speak up, the more he wants you. Not to mention, the book says to withhold sex as well. All of this is supposedly to give you power. In reality, following these rules could potentially push you into an abusive relationship. A healthy relationship doesn’t involve any of this. A healthy relationship involves respect, fairness, trust, support honesty, shared responsibility and communication.
Normalization of this behavior happens because of stereotypes and social expectations. Abuse never seems to be discussed, only sidelined. Social norms create normalcy out of the distorted and abnormalities of the world. Movies, songs and books may be viewed as a good movie, a catchy song or a great read, but the underlying themes have a penetrating effect on their audiences perceptions. Teens watching are lead to believe that domestic violence is romantic. Adults are lead to believe that domestic violence is romantic. Morality, ethics and realistic consequences seem to be ignored or glazed over.