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Women and Violence

April 06, 1991

In Elaine Dutka's March 20 article on the angry reaction to the movie "The Silence of the Lambs," Tammy Bruce of the National Organization for Women says "the bottom line is that violence does happen primarily to women and you need to portray that reality." In fact, with the exception of children, women are the segment of the population least frequently victimized by violence. (Young males corner the market here.)

Similarly, Sheila Kuehl of the Southern California Women's Law Center asserts that violence against women in films is "taken for granted like the air we breathe." Once again, cinematic portrayals of violence against men proportionally outnumber those against women by a margin so hefty that it would take Arnold Schwarzenegger to lift and drop it on Kuehl's plate. This is true even correcting for the greater number of male characters in films.

The issue here is that violence against women makes a much deeper impression upon us and so we recall these images more vividly and tend to exaggerate the frequency of their occurrence. Far from being inured to violence against women, as a society we are far more inured to violence against men. (The beasts probably deserve it anyway.)

PAUL OKAMI

Graduate Student, UCLA

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