Violence, Control, Homophobia, and a Loss of Power Over My Body

Alia Roth

This was a really heavy load of movies.  I decided to watch Tough Guise (the first one) then Tough Guise 2 and then Dream Worlds 3 so I had more context, background and a deeper understanding of the second movie.  As a result, I found myself cringing at the insanely violent and overly sexual images piled on top of each other.  It is one thing when you are watching a film or music video and there are shots of someone shooting a gun, or punching someone or women half-clothed dancing behind or on top of who ever the artist is – but when they are compiled the way they were in Tough Guise and Dream Worlds it resulted in one of the most disturbing afternoons of my life.  Dream Worlds – especially resulted in particularly horrific feelings of rage, frustration, sadness and many rants to my housemates.. as well as a follow up Facebook message to all my best friends that read:

Something all of us should watch as a cold reminder that no one is ever entitled to our bodies and we can be as sexual or non-sexual as we want to be.  Constantly be aware of how socialized men are to believe they are ALWAYS wanted, how women are socialized to believe that we are always there to be seen, not heard, how women are constructed to be at the physical disposal of men, and that the predominant heteronormative images that monopolize our music videos (media, press, magazines and movies) constructs a very false portrayal of the realities of sexuality, femininity and women.  Let’s not ever forget how valuable our hearts and minds are.  Push yourselves to heighten your awareness of comments from friends or romantic partners that may not feel right – and ask yourself why.  Examine industries like the music video industry so we can work to combat these constructions.  Never be afraid to be critical, loud, and always question when we feel silenced.  I love you all.”

**Sidenote: Did you know that Facebook, Microsoft Word or Pages do not recognize the word heteronormative as a word???

Without the music to distract me from actually examining what is going on in the music video – the images and realities of what was happening in so many of these videos was outrageously disturbing.  It is incredible frustrating because what has happened as a result of these industries exploiting women’s bodies, it feels as though we have lost control of our sexuality – Dream Worlds quite literally made me feel completely stripped of control over my body, my femininity and my sexuality.  I felt totally exploited and uncomfortable and am infuriated at the fact that we live culture that permits the kind of vile behavior like throwing meat at a woman’s naked body.  That is so horrifically degrading I could barely stand to look at the screen.

The other aspect of gender that this movie introduced me to was the concept that women are essentially nymphomaniacs and constantly in want or need of sex.  I have known that women are hyper-sexualized in the entertainment industry – but this movie took hyper-sexualization to a knew level.  These music videos that children watch at such a young age, really demonstrate a layer of why men feel entitled to women’s bodies – and a very deeply rooted aspect of sexual violence towards women.  They demonstrate that women never say no to anything (money or meat being thrown at them, being slapped, choked, stalked, branded, etc…) and that yet again, whoever the woman’s partner is (in these cases, all men) has total autonomy to do what ever they want to her body. When paralleling this with Tough Guise, and the ongoing insults that men use against each other “fag, pussy, bitch, queer, sissy” and that they are all gendered insults – especially towards women and gay men, wouldn’t it make sense that we would be the most comfortable not only being verbally violent towards these groups, but physically as well.

When I was at the hockey game last night, I could not help but start to count all of the outrageously gendered and offensive slurs that were coming from the stands to the opposing team.  At one point, the person next to me screamed “Hey goalie, your dad is embarrassed that you suck such huge dick!!!” I could not help but turn to him and say “Do you have any idea what you just said? You actually just made one of the most offensive and homophobic comments one could make.  Check yourself next time you think to insult someone with those kinds of remarks or I’m reporting you for a bias incident.” He no longer spoke for the rest of the game, and his friends around him murmured some comments and also watched what they said (more or less). The people around me also seemed shocked at what came out of my mouth.  It was so sad to me that people were more shocked by my statement than his.

This 10 minute video made me outrageously uncomfortable.  I watched it before and after Tough Guise 1 & 2 and realized that what is happening in this video is really no different than what happens to women in all of the videos and on a daily basis.  It was incredibly frustrating how much more uncomfortable I was watching a man be in this position than a woman – how normalized and desensitized I have become to visually seeing violence on woman is unbearably disturbing.

***TRIGGER WARNING*** There is very explicit and difficult to watch content in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4UWxlVvT1A

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