(Venice, Italy) March 8th is International Women's Day, and Venice is going all out with a long weekend -- March 7 to March 10 - jammed with activities centered around the theme, with some of the city's most distinguished cultural institutions participating. One Billion Rising, that powerful, deeply moving short film you just watched, was screened yesterday at the round table entitled Immagini amiche - Il ruolo svolto dai mass-media nella costruzione dell'estetica femminile or "Friendly Images - The role played by the media in the construction of female aesthetics" over at the Ateneo Veneto.
Advertising and music videos have always sexed up the image of the female, but it has become increasingly more violent and dark in recent years. The image you see on the left, a dead woman on the top of a car, strangled by a tie held by a well-dressed man -- who is not wearing a tie -- is an ad for a Duncan Quinn suit. Quinn is a former leveraged-buyout lawyer who quit to go into fashion. His suits sell for $4,000 - $30,000.
Below is a clip of Rihanna and Britney Spears singing "S&M" at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Dressed in bondage bodysuits and wearing handcuffs, the crowd roars its approval as the singers crawl around and pole dance. Some of the lyrics:
I may be bad, but I'm perfectly good at it.
Sex in the air; I don't care; I love the smell of it.
Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but chains and whips excite me.
It's violence glamorized to the max, and it is a rare female -- and often male -- performer that does not have to jump through those hoops to succeed -- everyone from Beyoncé to Christina Aguilera to Lady Gaga has promoted those type of images. It is a far cry from Aretha Franklin belting out "Respect" in 1967. Compared to the reality of the strong video from One Billion Rising, it is a sad joke -- they have actually commercialized the idea that it's GREAT for a Black woman and a White woman -- wearing opposite colors, of course -- to be in chains. It is an advertising campaign to sell slavery, and nothing more:
The round table was inspired by a European Parliament report of September 3, 2008 on how marketing and advertising affect equality between women and men. The EP argued that to combat gender stereotypes in the media, it would be a good idea to educate children so they would develop a critical attitude about the ads they are bombarded with. And you know what -- it's working! The young people in the audience from schools in Venice and the Veneto were intelligent, witty and talented, and had been educated to create their own positive media in response to the dark images -- another reason why I love Europe.
UPDATE - March 20, 2013:
|"Cage" by Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada|
|"Heart" by Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada|
|"Umbrella" by Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada|
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog