The language is crucial when reporting on gender violence

Sonia Sanchez Herrera is a researcher in audiovisual communication and gender, along with human rights activist and, in particular, for the rights of women. Just published the study ‘Film fiction and femicide: the case of Ciudad Juarez, “a topic that has been working for more than five years. “In 2009 participated in research commissioned by the Generalitat de Catalunya around documentaries and news reports that had been made so far on femicide in Ciudad Juarez. Since then I have not left the topic,” says Herrera, author of the blog The violent lens.

Feminismo.- What are the biggest mistakes we make in the press to talk about the murders against women?

Sonia Herrera There is a huge simplification of the problem of male violence trend. In addition, more codes and recommendations that have been written, many journalists continue to invest the burden of guilt of the perpetrator to the victim who, somehow, is responsible for their own abuse for failing to report, to live with the aggressor … and they are still used euphemisms to depersonalize it as “sexist violence a new victim charged in X” or “Die a woman do not know where gender violence”.

On the other hand is still appealing to pity and sensationalism, is still canvassing the opinion of the neighborhood and shift bar patrons and except honorable exceptions is not usually included testimony from specialists or data from studies on violence against women . Sexist violence is the case in most media as an event more and incidence is not a true reflection and awareness of society.

F. The video of aggression football player Ray Rice Janay his wife was one of the most watched on YouTube when he left the news. What do you think of that became public?

Recording puts the willies, but its display is a double-edged sword. Let me explain. The publication of the video, no more, cause empathy part of the population despite the-representation of violence in the media anesthesia us and waterproofs us. Moreover, as often it happens in the media when the issue of violence against women is addressed and as noted earlier, eventually reversed the burden of blame on the victim. Thus, on the website of Marca, which is where I saw the video of the attack, wrote the following

“Rice’s wife, however, defends her husband:” I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, “Janay Palmer wrote in his private profile Instagram, according to local media. “We are going to continue growing and showing the world what true love is,” he added. ”

Thus the press blamed indirectly woman Rice violence it suffers, playing again the speech tavern “it endures because it wants” and that full of stereotypes speech plays continuously as many / as the / as professionals covering such information no gender training.

When the aggressors are celebrities, to unequal relations of power between men and women, must be added the factor “fame” and socioeconomic power, because people often unwilling to drop an idol easily. Here we have also the case of Pistorius and sown doubts about the murder of his partner, sentences the former player of the NBA Alvin Robertson or the case of O. J. Simpson in the mid-90 repeated.

But it does not seem that athletes have a special predisposition. The maltratato is not associated with a particular profession, of course. We can also remember the rapper Chris Brown who served time for assaulting his then girlfriend, singer Rihanna, Mel Gibson admitted on tape assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Russian pianist Oksana Grigorieva, the exgalán telenovela Osvaldo Rios; or above, 60, beatings suffered by Tina Turner by her husband, also a singer, Ike Turner.

Luckily there are also men who not only do not abuse their partners if not condemning male violence publicly and placed next to feminism as Mark Ruffalo, Ryan Gosling, Gerard Butler, Ezra Miller, Jon Hamm, Daniel Craig, Benicio Del Toro Pedro Guerra, Eduardo Galeano …

F.-And in film and fiction series?

If SH- moved to movies and other content of audiovisual fiction we find a continuous-representation of violence and sadism against women, with no limits on what should be shown or not, continuously playing a stereotyped image and victimized the women, using reification and fragmentation of the bodies. In a quick review current series of mind for success as Criminal Minds, Castle, CSI or Bones and mythical suspense movies -for not to mention the horror where we are the victim predilecta- as The Silence of the Lambs, Copycat, perfume my beloved thesis we find that which my beloved teacher Pilar Aguilar called “alibi psychopath” which she defines more than eloquently

“The films of psychopaths and serial murderers are a handy alternative to stories delight in the sadistic voyeurism against women. Indeed, the introduction of a diabolical figure sum perturbed allows show with complacency-but forms- safeguarding the suffering of women. (…) “It is not I who is hurting this woman is an evil. I just limit myself to show and you limit yourself to look at it. ”

F.-What movies recommends us to properly approach the reality of femicide?

Some documentaries as Miss SH- lost, Bajo Juárez, letter, nor a more or On the edge, done a great job in this area and achieve a high identification of the spectator or viewer with the protagonists of the story in this case are mothers and sisters of the murdered women, as well as experts and activists against femicide.

These documentaries along with others like Unanswered Questions and Silence in Juarez, are undoubtedly those that address in a more comprehensive way issues femicide as structural and institutional violence, corruption and lack of political will, struggle of families and activists, poverty, relations with the United States or the relevance of the Free Trade Agreement and the maquiladora industry.

Since the socializing power of film, these works, as well as some fiction productions like Ash Wednesday or even Backyard: the backyard (despite the many raids this sensationalism) contribute to denounce the impunity that prevents clarify crimes gender committed against thousands of women in Ciudad Juarez and misogyny entrenched in society that promotes the killings.

I say more … Even though all the sensationalism, trivialization of the issue and distortion found in Bordertown (Bordertown) – directed in 2006 by Gregory Nava and starring Jennifer Lopez and Antonio Banderas, I agree with the critic Rodriguez Marchante, who at the time he wrote “everyone should know this true story, even through this film that just makes him some justice.” And he’s right. If people could make a critical reading of the film, leaving out all the chaff (the story of the intrepid journalist, sexual tension with Antonio Banderas, explosions and mix in shaker all theories that have been handled in the past 20 years for murder …), the film has interesting aspects as allusions to the responsibility of the maquiladoras and the involvement of men in power, corruption … If something that reaches and viewers and makes them reflect on this scourge , so be it.

F.-In general, how has addressed this social problem film?

SH- Unfortunately, too often when a documentary or fictional film that tries to approach the bloody reality of feminicide and impunity in Ciudad Juarez not part of a feminist or gender perspective certain look, it is easy to get carried away by inertia , perpetuating the relations of domination through symbolic violence as it is clearly in the case of films like the other American dream of Enrique Arroyo or the virgin of Juarez Kevin James Dobson.

To fiction will usually go hand in hand with gory sensationalism … Today hard to find movies where truly a correspondence between (more typical of narrative cinema) aesthetic excellence and thoroughness is given in the treatment of the problems found in documentary film.

F. How many film directors studied for a degree in Audiovisual Communication at the university?

S. H. No risk of contradiction, sharply say no. I grandísimos film professors (and one teacher, Rosa Maria Palencia, currently my thesis director) of those who learned a lot, but not a single word about Pilar Miró, Ida Lupino, Helena Cortesina (considered as the first director cinema in Spain), Dorothy Arzner, Rosario Pi, Lois Weber, Josefina Molina, Maria Novaro, Iciar Bollaín, Margarethe von Trotta, Anna Hofman-Uddgren, Dipa Mehta, Chantal Akerman, Lisa Wertmüller, Jane Campion, Gracia Querejeta, Chus Gutiérrez, Alice Guy Blache Sofia Coppola and many others.

I remember we saw a fragment of The Gleaners and I (The Gleaners and I) Agnès Varda and some criticism unfounded and empty content -of a teacher whose name I prefer not acordarme- on film by Isabel Coixet which he said “All his films look like a compresses announcement”. The problem, of course, is not that he personally would not he liked the movie Isabel Coixet -to tastes, dyed, but that was moving as “doctrine” a deeply sexist prejudice (as well as subjective) to a class of 70 alumni / ae.

F. When did finally contact the cinema and feminism?

When I studied the Master of Gender Equality in the Social Sciences at the Complutense University of Madrid, in 2010, and came into contact with Pilar Aguilar I discovered that it is essential to shed a feminist perspective on the movies we see as a way to alphabetize the media, yes but also as a form of political commitment, as a mechanism of transformation. Until then, in 8 years of college, I had not heard a word about feminist film theory or Teresa de Lauretis or Laura Mulvey, and a dissonant note on the “great filmmakers” (all male, of course) and its hegemonic discourse saints or whores, vase women and women in refrigerators, female characters whose sole initiative, as Pilar told me once while interviewing for my tesina- is crawl under the table and give a blowjob to the protagonist.

“You have to throw courage really to question in a Faculty of Communication misogyny of directors like Hitchcock, Bertolucci, Lars von Trier, Vicente Aranda or even Pedro Almodóvar and also to plant yourself in a classroom full of teenagers and tell them that the Twilight saga promotes emotional dependence and male domination. it is difficult, but it must be done. it is very necessary. ”

F. After the doctorate, you will continue working on this line of research?

S. H. I think I always keep linked to the representation of violence against women in film and use it as a tool of denunciation against gender violence in all its manifestations. Surely follow closely linked to cases of femicide in Ciudad Juarez, but also have other projects in mind on some television series fashion, on the interpretation of Meryl Streep throughout his career, educommunication … I have my desk full notes and post-its with ideas that I hope someday they materialize.

(Sonia Herrera explains the concept of femicide and other issues such as the need to decolonize Western feminism in the first part of this interview).