Thursday, October 4, 2007

thursday's word: violence

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dylan fergus in hellbent, 2004

vie uh luhns

act of aggression and abuse, meant to cause an injury, a loss of liberty, or death

any form of fighting, conflict, or domination

any ferocious, wild, or turbulent event

a significant development in post-freud twentieth-century popular culture was a conflation of the terms 'sex' + 'violence,' a pairing now as common as 'salt + pepper' or 'moist + hot.'

today, in most americans’ minds, the terms 'assault' + 'harassment' automatically connote 'sexual assault' + 'sexual harassment,’ without the modifier.

the eroticization of violence is evident in hollywood thrillers like dracula, cat people, kiss me deadly, psycho, halloween, cruising, + the silence of the lambs.

by the 1970s there was a thriving, vocal s+m counterculture, promoting consensual use of domination + pain in sexual fantasies + ritualized or fetishized sex acts.

at the other end of the spectrum, some feminists label sexual penetration of any kind as violent. aids + a revival of traditional masculine ideology, favoring frottage over 'violation' of the anus, solidified a sense of danger in penetrative sex among homosexual men.

somewhat less radical were the redefinition of 'rape' in terms of violence, not sex, + a new variety of rape, 'date rape,' which, according to some critics, emphasizes the importance of consent in sexual relations, but, according to others, ignores the importance of role-playing in flirtation + seduction.

also, public consciousness of partner abuse has led to greater legal protection of victims + greater media vilification (most notably in films like fatal attraction) of violent + obsessive behavior within relationships--i.e. stalking, jealousy, threats, corporal punishment, crimes of passion. in the past, such violent + potentially violent behavior had been viewed through lenses of privacy or ethnicity, if not always with benign indifference.

through the latter half of the century, there was a growing critique of representations of violence, as americans began to cite violence in fairy tales, comic books, action + horror movies, rap music, + video games as potentially harmful to children.

sports like boxing, wrestling, + football came to be associated as 'blood sports,' typifying (for some) masculine aggressiveness in general.

any form of fighting competition, including children’s roughhousing + the game of tag, was labeled by some people as ‘violent,’ even in the absence of an intent to harm, coerce, or subjugate others.

latin 'violentia' = 'vehemence, impetuosity,' probably from 'violare' = 'to violate'

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