The Television Hit Parade – A Different Perspective
What would you do if, in a two day period, you saw 5 prime-time television programs, primarily, but not solely comedies, where men shoved, slapped or hit women a total of 41 times? Would you get upset, picket, write or call the local television station or network, your person in Congress, or even President Clinton?
Well, September 30 and October 2, 1996, when I first started this story, something very similar happened. Monday: Melrose Place promo – woman slaps man once, man slaps woman 0 times. Married with Children – 3 women slap 3 men 6 times, men slap women 0 times. Wednesday – News Radio – woman slaps man 4 times, 2nd woman slaps man once, man slaps women 0 times; Men Behaving Badly promo – woman slaps man once, man slaps woman 0 times; Actual show – no slapping during this episode but the show’s lead-in has cuts from old movies where 18 different women slap 18 different men. The final scene shows a woman giving a roundhouse punch to a man knocking him through and flattening a door. Men slapped women 0 times. Seinfeld promo – woman shoves Seinfeld and he falls backward and hits the floor. All of this in just two days of our new prime time television season. In all cases, the women knew the men they shoved, slapped, or hit. In many of these situations, they were in relationship with each other. And, on America’s Funniest Videos, men are constantly shown getting hit, kicked, or bitten in the crotch and everyone laughs. And things haven’t changed much. Just last week another Melrose Place promotion shows a woman slapping a man, and even Suddenly Susan has stooped that low to get ratings. In their promo, three women gave slaps that turned the head to three coworkers in their office. All were stupid reasons. The last one depicts one of the men merely asking a woman “What time is it?” She slaps him. He says, “What was that for?” She says, “You know I don’t wear a watch.”
Do you think it’s funny? Or, do you think, “But, that’s different.” Or, “He probably deserved it for what he said.” No one would dare ask that question of a woman who has just been slapped by a man. We know that if a man slaps, hits or even restrains a violent women, the man is the criminal. Think about the confusion this message presents to our children.
Take the recent case of the six-year old boy who was charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate. It’s said that children don’t even have a concept of morality until around seven or eight. When they are old enough to understand what is “appropriate”, by this societies standards, sitcoms like the above and dramatic shows like LAPD and Chicago Hope continue to subtly teach our children this double standard whereby a woman is allowed, supported and even outwardly encouraged to resort to violence towards a man for something he said (witness the daily dredge on talk shows), yet a man is severely punished, if not imprisoned for doing the same thing. Yet, girls hit and slap boys everyday on school playgrounds and campuses, and worse than being tolerated, it’s not even noticed. (The movie “Jennifer’s in Jail” is one of the few exceptions.)
Have you noticed? Have you gotten upset? Have you written or called anyone to complain? Does it matter? Know that, regardless of how the law is seen differently depending on the sex of the aggressor, there is no valid reason to initiate physical violence against another human being for something that is said. Only excuses. In making the world safe for children, we must say no to all violence, whether comedic or serious. If you’re not part of the solution to stop violence in all forms, then YOU are the problem. And, one way to start being part of the solution is to see what messages are being given at your local schools, and write or email your friends, representatives in congress, national television networks and local stations and let them know you don’t think it’s funny. Think about it!
Footnote: The Reverend Al Sharpton, when asked about the media coverage of Gansta Rapper, the late Notorious B.I.G., said “Why are they always blaming everything on the rappers? Don’t blame the youth. Blame the wicked culture. Every Sunday night on TV, Angela Lansbury taught these kids violence on Murder, She Wrote…blame the re-runs of Have Gun, Will Travel and Gunsmoke.”
And the Beat Goes On
We’re not big television viewers. However, here is an ongoing list of 1999 shows that promote women as the perpetrators of violence and men as receivers (dare we say victim). There is at least one incidence per evening in the normal sitcoms and promos for sitcoms. (I’m taking a year-off watching TV during 2000 but I’m sure not much has changed, at least for the better.)
11/12/00 – Promo on Fox for Titians: Woman hits man sitting at dinner from behind with a frying pan, knocking him to the floor.
9/17/00 – Promo for new “Titians”. Son says “Yes father.” Dad slugs son in face.
9/17/00 – Norelco commercial – guy doesn’t like what mascot says. Guy knocks mascot to the ground with a round house with his briefcase and walks away smiling.
11/1/99 – Fox: Promo for next week’s Ally McBeal (11/8). Georgia slaps Billy then hits him so that he does a 180 degree spin and crashes into a wall.
9/29/99 – Entertainment Tonight promotes Sandra Bullock and Jay Moore. He says “How are you doing.” She slugs him so hard in the stomach that he doubles over on the floor.
9/29/99 – Law & Order – case of I believe an 11 year old girl who killed a cat for the fun of it, then killed a boy by hitting him in the head with a rock. “He deserved it” she told the psychiatrist. “More and more girls are commiting violent crimes” he told the court. Of course, since she didn’t deserve being held resonsible for the killings, she was released in her mother’s custody with the suggestion that she get her daughter some help.
9/23/99 – Nash Bridges promo – Nash Bridges’ girl friend halls off and slugs him.
9/23/99 – Promo for some TV show where man says something like “Come on, lets go inside”, turns to walk to house and the woman hits him in the back of the head with what looked to be a snow shovel.
8/8/99 – CBS Evening News – did a whole story on empowering girls based on gender based violence, with model mugging, etc. No discussion of slapping and hitting by girls/women nor the fact that there are model mugging programs for men also, big men, on how to stop violence directed a them.
7/3099 – Married With Children. Marcia slaps 3 different men and another gets hit with a beam.
7/6/99 – Spin City
Thursday, 7/1/99 – Jesse (NBC). Jesse slugs former husband in mouth because he said “we have a kid together” and the audience applauds.
Tuesday, 3/9/99 – Friends. Actual show Rachel hits Ross over the head with a newspaper numerous times for what he said – being truthful. He ends up with the newspaper. He reveals more, and at one point gives her the paper so she can hit him some more.
Tuesday, 3/9/99 – Funny Videos – Not violence by women but showed several different ways men get hit, bitten and kicked in the balls – for laughs. I have a sense if you watch much TV, you’ll probably see violence against men as an accepted way but if done from men to women would NOT be accepted. Think about it.
Monday, 3/8/99 – Ally McBeal, In lead-in, Ally slugs and play punches a man.
Monday, 3/8/99 – Suddenly Susan – Three different women haul off and hit three different men, the final one for saying “What time is it?” The man says, “Why did you hit me?” She said, “You know that I don’t wear a watch.” to promote next weeks show.
Sunday, 3/7/99 – Fox’s 90210 – Woman hits man to promote show.
Saturday, 3/6/99 – Just Shoot Me -Woman hits man in stomach to promote show.
Of everything that happens in a 30+ minute show, why do the networks use the hitting scenes in their 10 second show promos? And why doesn’t anyone else notice? And why isn’t anyone else upset about it? If it were women getting slapped, hit and kicked, would anyone notice? Much less do something about it? I think so. What’s the difference? Could it be a general numbness that says men deserve whatever they get? Or is the current culture based on misandry – the hatred of men – and not just woman hating men. Men hating ourselves for being men. Think about your reaction to all this. Then think about why you reacted the way you did. And, what you plan to do about it. Just in case it might be action, you’ll find all the networks, many of the shows, and other major media web sites, and some e-mail and snail mail addresses the Where to Write .
ebit: We did what we suggest you do back in 1996 without one single response. It’s not necessarily guns or video games that has become the problem. It’s television making fun of violence linked with a culture that enjoys shame and ridicule until some young boy can’t take it any more and blows somebody away, often the perpetrator of the ridicule. Ridicule runs rampant in our schools, replacing self-esteem at a rapid rate. Now, we have to live with the consequences.
Fox TV Continues to Promote Domestic Violence
An hour and 28 minutes into the Super Bowl game on Sunday, Fox TV ran a commercial to promote domestic violence on Melrose Place. This demonstrates how much violence from women hitting men is being promoted to viewers and children. This time, Heather Locklier hauls off and slaps her male to promote the next show. Kids and teenagers are confused. Is it any wonder domestic and relational violence continues to rise. And, if you think it’s okay for a woman to hit a man, there’s the problem. Domestic and relational violence is still violence regardless of who does it but why is it okay, accepted and being promoted, without any comments from the Alternatives to Violence community, the women’s movement, newscasters, etc. It starts and stops with you. (See Where to write if you want to do something about it.)
“Roseann” Supports Women’s Violence against Men and Children
Here’s the story line. I think it’s Roseann’s sister who is in an abusive relationship. Roseann uses no humor to confront the husband and get the reluctant wife out of the house. She succeeds. The scene moves to the sons bedroom where Roseann’s husband is talking to his teenage son. He is making it clear that it isn’t okay to hit. It’s serious. He goes on to say, it’s not okay for men to hit women. The son asks, what if it’s someone very close to you. It’s really not okay. Then, the son asks, what if it’s a woman who is doing the hitting. The father doesn’t answer the question and instead brings in humor to ignore the question “Don’t you want to talk about how babies are born?” And, the scene is over. The show had a very strong opinion about men’s violence and had a perfect opportunity to say that women’s violence against men or children is not okay either – and didn’t, and, to me, gave that boy and the audience a position that it’s okay for women to be violent, even with their children.
“Friends” Supports Adult Female Teachers Seducing Their High School Students
The scene. One of the Friends brothers is in high school. You can tell that he has a hard time with being loved. His 44 year old female home ec teachers gets romantically involved with him. They make a point to insure that you know he is 18 (no longer a minor), and we have to assume that the romantic attachment started after he turned 18. The Friends talk to both of them about the age difference. They both agree that it should end. When this decision is made individually, they end up coming over to the Friends apartment to break it off. They agree to break it off and almost immediately fall into this intense embrace, start kissing passionately, fall on the couch and continue to make out. The cast of Friends basically shrug it off and that’s it. No comment of the teachers authority and power over the boy. No discussion on the sexual trauma. No comment that the relationship is totally inappropriate. Is it? My challenge to the writers of the show is do the same scenario but make the teacher a male shop teacher and the 18 year old student a female. My sense is that, if that story was played out their would be public outrage, there would be talk shows about sexual harassment. There would be an investigation. And, it wouldn’t be funny. If it’s a male teacher, it can’t be love. If it’s a female teacher, it’s okay. It brings to mind the case on Mary Laturno, the 35 year old teacher and mother of 4 in Washington State, who has been charged with 2 counts of rape for developing a sexual relationship with a 13 year old friend of one of her sons. The American Journal spent most of the story time talking with people in community that couldn’t believe she would do something like that, some questioning if it’s really true. There was noone talking about the young boy, what it took to come forward in a culture that supports this kind of behavior, that says, he probably enjoyed it so it should be okay and they don’t say that about a 17 year old girl in the same situation. No discussion with psychologists on the trauma this can create in his life. Rather, if a 17 year old girl is involved, let’s keep her as a girl, telling her she isn’t a woman yet and creating another victim. If it’s a 13 year old boy, it’ll help him become a man. It’s all so ironic. Many cultures, especially in Catholic countries like Peru and Equador, find it quite normal for 13 year old women to marry 22 year old men – it’s the custom. There’s nothing unusual about it. That’s the way its been for centuries. Yet, in our culture, we still want to keep our girls as little girls, even at 17. Don’t grow up. Don’t become a woman when your body and mind have developed to that level. You’re still just my little girl. I’m not saying we should lower the age of consent, what we do need to do is see the boys and girls are impacted by information and messages that say that we have to protect our girl children, the boys can take care of themselves. Think about it!
Children of Violence
The other side of the picture – if you have children, teach them not to shame and ridicule others because of the way the look (four-eyes, fat, geek, stupid) etc. Teach them to treat everyone with honor and caring and have them (the parents) learn that same lesson. Guns, while dangerous and it would be nice to think can be control, are not the answer. If we didn’t have ridicule and shame as a national focus and actively participate in it ourselves, and treated everyone with kindness, these violent retributions wouldn’t enter a child’s mind in the first place.
I believe that if half as much time was spent challenging the media for their part in the shame game, shows like Jerry Springer for perpetuating violence, Melrose Place and many other shows constantly promoting women hitting and slapping men, nuns for whipping children (school systems, too), parents from slapping and hitting children, the cosmetic industry for making women feel that they aren’t good enough as god/dess had created, that would do more to prevent these kinds of situations than eliminating all the guns in the world.
In Memory of……..
Natalie Brooks, student age 12
Paige Ann Herring, student age 12
Stephanie Johnson, student age 12
Brittany R. Varner, student age 11
Shannon Wright, Teacher age 32
This is in memory of the children, teacher and the unborn child killed in the shooting on Tuesday, March 24, 1998 in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Please send this to everyone you know. If this gets to the town of Jonesboro, I’m sure they will be grateful to know that we all care. By sending this letter you are also signing a petition to stop kids from handling guns and putting their selves and others in this situation. 11 and 13 year olds shouldn’t have to be behind bars……they should be playing on them. If you have children and guns please lock up the guns in a safe.
Movie Ratings for Kids
www.kids-in-mind.com movie reviews are objective, non-critical assessments of the potentially objectionable material contained in movies and are primarily addressed to parents. We don’t tell parents whether a movie is good or bad, we don’t tell them whether it has any social or political significance — we don’t even bother with whether it has artistic merit. We simply list material that parents may not want their kids to watch or hear. Then parents can decide whether a movie is OK for their own kids, according to their own criteria. The writing style is straightforward and quite neutral, and we take great pains to describe a film’s content without actually revealing any plot elements. Letters@kids-in-mind.com
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77% of women and 51% of men will stop watching a show if it’s too sexy or violent.
I must say that I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a book. Groucho Marx
We should shoot all the jerks who think that violence on TV is harming us.