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Making Black Men Look Scary

“I can’t breathe.” Eric Garner’s last words

“I can’t breathe.” Eric Garner’s last words

Black men who are killed by police officers often end up with a media makeover — and it’s not flattering.

For Black History Month I am reposting a Sociological Images look at how the images are selected and sometimes altered. The piece was published last August. Here it is (with permission): Read the rest of this entry

Laughing at Violence Against Women

image001“There’s a huge amount of online activity devoted to cultivating horrific impulses toward women,” says former sex-crimes prosecutor, Jane Manning.

For instance, while Facebook prohibits content that is hateful, threatening or incites violence, rape didn’t count until recently. It took a massive campaign to stop pages with titles like “You know she’s playing hard to get when you’re chasing her down an alleyway.”

Or, an upskirt picture of a woman lying face down on the floor was recently posted on Facebook. It got comments like these:

  • Id wake her up the HARD WAY and later say it wasn’t me
  • She also would have woke up feeling sticky and used!
  • Whuts da ho’ doin on da flo’ ?
  • An found a used codom in side of her
  • any man worth his salt would fuk it now

On Facebook it was easy to see who had viciously mocked the victim. Among them:

  • Men who like science, yoga, Buddhism, classical music and the local church
  • A supporter of a charity that campaigns against violence
  • A husband who works with a Christian Ministry
  • Fathers who seek support for special needs kids, campaign against animal cruelty, are proud of their daughters, and who want to be there for their children

Or, there’s Gilberto Valle, a New York cop who favored sites filled with men chatting about raping and torturing women, and even roasting and eating them. His wife, who knows him best, called the cops and flew to Nevada to escape him. She was one of his prospective victims.

Defenders say, “lighten up!”

What happens when we do?

It may well train women to accept both their diminishment and their submission. And it seems to make men more callous to women’s abuse. Others like Officer Valle, who had a plan to kidnap, torture and eat young women, are incited to violence. Around one in five American women have been victims of rape or battering.

Should we lighten up?

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