Essay on Women as Victims in the Media

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Women as Victims in the Media

One interesting aspect of murder is the way it is portrayed in different forms of media. In particular the way female murder victims have been portrayed over time reflects the social norms of the period. Focusing on the way murdered females were portrayed in various forms of media, beginning in the late eighteenth century in the United States and ending with the present day representations in film it is evident that a traditional style of portraying dead women has continued to pervade society through the twentieth century.

Stories, either fictional or based on actual events, began around 1800 portraying women victims as young, unmarried, beautiful and innocent. Their deaths were portrayed
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The message appeared to be that women who were sexually active before marriage were doomed to horrible fates. At the same time the erotic descriptions of the corpses gave a voyeuristic pleasure to an audience that was taught to regard premarital sex as a taboo.

Comparing a study done by Gloria Cowan and Margaret O'Brien concerning the differences between male/female survivors vs. non-survivors in slasher films during the 1980's to the characterization of women victims in the media in the early 1800's show striking similarities. In the study female non-survivors wore more revealing and/or provocative clothing, were nude, or undressing, and were presented as promiscuous more often than female survivors in slasher films. Further victims were more frequently engaged in sexual behavior right before the killing. They were also more likely to be doing drugs more often than the survivors. The non-survivors were generally more physically attractive and were not the instigators of the violence. More survivors than non-survivors provoked the villain into direct confrontation. The message seems to be that sexual. women get killed. The good woman is asexual and the bad woman who has sex dies because of it. The films reinforce the concept that female sexuality is dangerous for the female.(Cowan, 187-196)

The way women are presented as victims of murder has been intrinsically linked to the social lessons and preconceptions of

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