Man murders women (Canadian Editorial)

153/483 27 Dec 89 20:34:43
From:   Kirsten Emmott
To:     All
Subj:   editorial (part 1)
------------------------------------------------

from the Vancouver Sun, December 18 1989
by Stephen Hume
 
I took a stroll the other day through the dark zone of the
Canadian conscience.

Men in general were not responsible for the slaughter of 14
young women in Montreal. But women in general were the victims.
Whose victims were they?

Marc Lepine may have been an isolated madman, the random product
of a ravaged childhood-- ravaged by decaying social values. Or perhaps he
epitomized a set of values.

I went looking for those values, not in churches or law courts,
libraries or universities, but in the popular arena. Common denominators of
mass culture today are found in the video rental parlors. They are home to the
medium busily forging archetypes for our society's new mythologies.

I don't meen the seedy boredom of Red Hot Video and its XXX-rated
facts of life for dreary people with barren imaginations.

I mean a squeaky clean kids-and-family place, a McDonald's
of the take-out movie world. The powers of the archetypes found here are
revealed in the fact that the most popular names for newborns in our culture 
now derive from soap operas. 

This place is spotless. The decor is tasteful and contemporary.
It gleams with chrome, glass and the trendy hue of the moment. The
service is excellent and the young woman behind the counter is friendly, 
well-spoken, neatly dressed and probably exists near the poverty line-- unless
she lives with a man who holds a typically higher-paying job.
In short, this particular video parlor resembles most such outlets.

It has its own special gallery devoted to the status of women.
They are ranked in a social heirarchy that contains the massacre in
Montreal. Unlike the banal adult movies, hidden behind batwing doors, this
area is unrestricted.

Welcome to the Horror and Fantasy display. Marketing blurbs
on the video cassettes make it clear this whole genre is pitched to teenagers 
and young adults.

The first movie that catches my eye is Woman Hunt. It promises
men who kidnap women and make them prey for high-velocity bullets.
Stone Cold Dead features a sexually twisted sniper. he captures the
women he kills, on film, at the precise moment they die-- an eerie metaphor for 
the wettest dream of prime time television news producers. 
They deny this, of course, but obtain footage that bares the human
face of death, or terror, or grief, and they loop it endlessly through our 
living rooms.

Cover art for Color Me Blood Red depicts a crucified woman.
Her abdomen has been opened and an anonymous male figure scoops her
intestines and reproductive organs into a bowl. This might serve as a metaphor 
for the worst excesses for the abortion debate, which seeks to reduce women from
complex human beings to crude reproductive capacity.
 
Blood Feast shows a woman prostrate in the poool of gore left
when her tongue was ripped out. Another metaphor-- this time for the desire to
render women speechless. It's a desire that feminists encounter whenever they
become too forthright in speaking to women's rights.

These videotapes are fictions, of course. But they do not
exist in a vacuum. They speak to baseline fantasies in the imaginations of
men-- and women. And if they do not create events, they validate a matrix of
attitudes in which the Montreal massacre coalesced.

In these movies, hundred and hundreds of them, women are terriried,
tortured and murderd with power drills, chainsaws, fire axes. They are ripped
apart, dismembered, disembowelled. They are sexually mutilated-- an assault
upon the physical characteristics of their fundamental roles as mothers.

The point of this brief survey-- believe me, there is a lot more of this stuff
out there pandering to the teenage crownd-- is not to preach censorship. There
are a lot of us, women included, who belive that to accept the censor is to 
capitulate to the very evil we purport to suppress.

The point is to discuss thematic subtexts. Surely this kind
of imagery depicts a hatred towards, and objectification of, women, that far 
exceeds what we tend to equate with hard-core porno films. 

Indeed, the X-rated movies seem a celebration of life by comparison,
however devoid of tenderness.

What are the subliterate sub-themes of these movies?

Women are victims. Women are sexual prey. Women deserve what
they get-- that is, women who exercise autonomy as sexual beings are most at
risk. Unrepentatnt female beauty deserves to be defaced and mutilated. Women
require men to ensure their safety-- but only orthodox men. Unorthodox men
have a murderous sex fiend lurking inside.

So the films endorse a perceived status quo in which conventional
males are dominant and conventional women are submissive and powerless. 
Unconventional men are a threat and unconventional women are beyond protection.

If we dismiss the idea that men are genetically programmed
to hate women-- and this seems an intolerable possibility for everyone 
concerned-- then we must look for structural origins in society itself.

----- Stephen Hume
 
Comment: angry men, this is what your anger means to us. When some
man posts that what he wants from women is less cynicism, maybe he doesn't
know about these videos, but I'll bet he does. Is it enough for him to say "I
don't hurt women?"
 
Meanwhile, law students at the University of Calgary advertised a dance with 
posters showing women with bloody, slashed breasts and thighs. 
The caption; "Be there or be mutilated." Students at Queens defaced
posters on date rape by adding to the "no means no" slogan comments like "no 
means tie me up" and "no means harder."
 
If you don't think slashing and beating women is funny, why aren't you 
protesting what you see around you before you make comments about 
"radical feminists who hate men"?


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