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SAVE Deplores Portrayal of Domestic Violence as Glamorous
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), along with many other advocacy groups and media outlets, has condemned fashion photographs recently taken of television star Heather Morris (Brittany from “Glee”) engaged in mock domestic violence with a male model. But advocates other than SAVE have ignored the male victim in the pictures, and by focusing only on the depicted violence against Ms. Morris, they perpetuate damaging stereotypes and hide the facts about domestic violence from Americans.
A black-eyed Morris, dressed as Barbie, stares seductively into the camera, and later merrily presses a hot iron to her partner’s crotch. The photo depicts a getting-what-he-deserves storyline that reinforces serious misconceptions about domestic violence. Men are stereotyped as abusers, and Barbie supposedly strikes a blow for victims everywhere.
The truth is that men are just as likely to be the victims of domestic violence as women (although they are much less likely to report the crime) and most of the time, domestic disputes result in mutual violence. But while Barbie’s bruising is facial, “Ken” is sexually assaulted through his trousers. In this case, as in thousands of others, shame will probably cause Ken not to report the crime.
Predictably, reactions to the photos have focused only on the abuse to Barbie: her assault of Ken has been ignored, even though it is the more serious crime. Rita Smith, director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), spoke to E! news about the photos, but it was as if she had seen a different set of photos.
Still worse, nothing has been said about the photographer’s donation to an advocacy group that disregards male victims of domestic violence and portrays men as serial abusers: after the negative public reaction to the shoot, Tyler Shields told the Daily Mail that he would auction off his photos and donate the proceeds to Glamour magazine’s Tell Somebody campaign. The Tell Somebody campaign, like almost all programs, focuses exclusively on violence perpetrated against women—that is, on only half the picture.
SAVE is calling on Shields to select a different beneficiary—one that serves all victims, whether they are female or male, gay or straight—so that proceeds from the sale of a photo making light of domestic violence victims will not go to a project that stereotypes men as the only abusers.