Will We Ever Move Beyond It?: Misogyny and Women's Oppression in Popular Culture

A few weeks ago, I watched a film that I ordered from Netflix called “The Killer Inside Me,” which (like most things in our world) left me highly disturbed and ultimately pissed off!

From the synopsis of the film, it seemed as though it would be a psychological, edgy film with mystery about a local sheriff of a small town set in the 1950s who maintains a secret life as a serial killer. Being a lifelong film aficionada and hearing all of the hype surrounding this movie, I decided to check it out.

While watching this film, I discovered that it was anything but impressive as the “critics” initially asserted and I was once again reminded of the stark unquestionable oppression of women, specifically through contemporary modalities.

The ENTIRE film was solely dedicated to the severe torture, sexual objectification, and humiliation of women from the hands of the town sheriff, played by Casey Affleck, as this was the only manner in which he could “express” his true nature!

Every single interaction he had with the two female characters in the film, played by Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba, consisted of chauvinist and depraved acts of violence where Casey Affleck was the perpetrator. Because he was the individual subjugating others, this film is yet another mechanism of the reinforcement and perpetuation of the tyranny of women and the uplifting of men.

Moreover, the stereotypes regarding gender roles of men and women only heightened the oppressive and depraved nature of this film; Kate’s character exemplified the overly “feminine” qualities of a woman: as his girlfriend, she was completely devoted to Casey’s character, waiting on him hand and foot lingering in his shadow until he decided it was time to “walk down the proverbial isle!”

His mistress, the local prostitute played by Jessica Alba (of course she received raved reviews for her “edgy” portrayal of this character with several nude scenes), allowed herself to be subjected to constant brutal sexual encounters including strangulation, forceful pushing, slapping on the face and bottom, etc.

I suppose this is an accurate portrayal of women, given that the universal ideology regarding women places them in two demeaning categories: virginal and pure young maiden or a scandalous temptress and harlot who exists solely for the pleasure of men!

Many people are under the impression that given the “modernity” of our global society and the undeniable accomplishments in the sphere of civil rights for women, that oppression and sexism among women simply does not exist. However, when films such as this and other vessels of bigotry and sexism exist, like the recent rise and disturbing popularity of in-home stripper poles and pole dancing/stripping “exercise classes” offered at nationally recognized fitness centers, while offered to anyone, are primarily marketed towards women, they serve their ultimate purpose in advancing the patriarchal ideologies of our world.

Women are incessantly on the receiving end of sexist brutality and oppression; people have to understand that this inhumane subjugation comes in many forms…most often in very subtle and obscure ways as to tread the delicate line between artistic expression and overt sexism motivated by capitalist hedonism.

Contemporary cinema is an irrefutable instrument of the dehumanization of woman, furthering the antediluvian ideologies of gender roles to suppress women. But what happens when the perceptions of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status are added to the equation?

Last Thursday, I attended an event at the Smithsonian for African Art where a film from Morocco, entitled "Raja," was being presented with thoughtful discussion afterwards. The premise of the film explored the strenuous “relationship” between a local Moroccan girl and her wealthy French employer. Raja, a 19 year old former prostitute from very socioeconomically deprived means, works as a domestic assistant/maid among several other women at the lavish estate of Frederique, a 40 year old wealthy Frenchman.

From the moment he sees Raja, he makes overt sexual advances towards her despite being married. What’s more insulting is how he uses money and material objects to gain her “affection;” this may have something to do with the fact that Raja’s character is undeniably portrayed as a money-hungry seductive temptress who uses sex as a commodity to acquire the things that she wants. Moreover, with the way Europeans have historically exoticized and sexually objectified people of color, it comes as no surprise that the remains of that xenophobic and oppressive ideology still highly influences diverse spaces of expression, as in the case of this film.

These intersections of race, class, and gender underscore the universal consensus that people of color, women, and those of very low socioeconomic means are merely objects to be utilized for servitude in all forms, in addition to being oversexed, materialistic, duplicitous beings.

In our society, the only way that we recognize injustice is when we are hit in the face with unquestionably conspicuous images signifying oppression, like the KKK or people in bondage. However, the collective mission among our global society should be to unveil the hidden and surreptitious manner in which oppression and dehumanization flies under the radar, as it allows for more poisonous Eurocentric patriarchy to infiltrate the minds of people everywhere and disseminate into the smallest fabrics and dimensions of our world. Once this clandestine mission is exposed, the insidious oppression of women [and other groups] can be exterminated and the restoration of humanity will arise!

My name is Jamekaa Flowers and while originally from Atlanta, Ga., I currently reside in Washington, DC where I work in education reform and community development for DC Public Schools. My lifelong passions include deconstructing the numerous "isms" (i.e. sexism, racism, classism, etc.) that plague our society and challenge people to think critically about how they are both affected by and affect others with these "isms." My mission to ignite the global mobilization of people of African descent through mental emancipatory "re-education" models reflecting core/authentic Pan-Africanist elements will be my legacy....I Am We! Visit Her Blog at http://imtyedsooverit.blogspot.com/.

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