In a local newspaper I read an article about a new TV series airing this month: Dietland. It is produced by Marti Noxon and based on the novel of the same name by Sarai Walker. I watched the first 15 minutes of the first episode on YouTube, which was all that was available, as well as the teaser trailers. I rarely get intrigued about TV shows but this one has piqued my interest and I will definitely watch the first episodes as soon as I can get my hands on them.
As a woman who grew up thin and loving food I have never dieted or had an eating disorder so the novel did not catch my eye when it came out. This show, however, has a few things going for it that make it hard to ignore. For starters it is full of women. Whereas women's presence and voice is pathetic in the lion's share of what media produces they appear to be significant here. Also unusual is the minimal sexualization of women and the apparent absence of violence against women. These are the main things I have been tracking in movies for my upcoming book, so they are always at the forefront of my mind. Then there is the story itself. This is where it really gets interesting. The lead character is a writer named Plum Kettle (played by Joy Nash) who is overweight and struggles with self-image. She works for a narcissist (played by Julianna Margulies) who is oblivious of her struggles and gets the credit for her work. She also appears to get recruited by an underground group of women who are murdering sexual predators (men). This has got to be a first for a TV show. Moreover, whereas the vast majority of TV shows embrace the impossible beauty ideal that tyrannizes women's lives it looks like this show will be very critical of it.
Women's fury and resentment are at the heart of this show, which appears to be revenge fantasy. Having spent over two years writing 700 pages about the sexualization of women in media and violence against women—and analysing over 400 movies in the process—I can vouch for there being just cause for an ocean of both. Chances are that women especially are going to be very intrigued by this show and its messages.
© 2018 Alline Cormier
In 2015 20-year-old Brock Turner raped a 22-year-old woman behind a dumpster at a university in California while she was unconscious. Two men riding bicycles (Peter Jonsson and Carl-Fredrik Arndt) saw him, confronted him and held him until the police arrived. When Turner was arrested the judge released him on a US$150,000 bail. Turner was eventually found guilty of three felony charges of sexual assault, however, the judge, Aaron Persky, decided to sentence Turner to just six months imprisonment and three years’ probation. A Stanford University law professor, Michele Dauber, launched a campaign to have the sentencing judge removed from the bench, and her petition had gathered over 1 million signatures by mid-June, 2016. The maximum sentence Turner could have received was 14 years’ imprisonment. The Washington Post reported, “He faced up to 14 years in prison. Prosecutors asked for six. Instead, Turner received only six months in jail and three years of probation after a judge worried that a stiffer sentence would have a ‘severe impact’ on the 20-year-old.”
Yesterday, two years after sentencing Brock Turner, judge Aaron Persky was removed from office. The Santa Clara judge is the first American judge to be recalled in decades. Community leaders running the campaign to have Persky removed needed to get 20% of the voting electorate to sign a petition, which they did. Next countywide elections were held, yesterday. Voters decided Persky was no longer needed to serve justice in their county. It is safe to say that many women are thrilled about Persky’s removal from the bench. Women everywhere are sick of our rape cultures and are fighting hard to change the status quo.
 The Washington Post, ‘A steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action’: Dad defends Stanford sex offender, June 6, 2016, Michael E. Miller
© 2018 Alline Cormier
For over two years I have been documenting dozens of things from mainstream movies relating to the sexualization of women and violence against women. I have analysed over 400 movies--most of them from Hollywood--and written nearly 700 pages about what I have discovered. One of the numerous things I keep track of is occurrences of men hunting women in film. It is common enough and does not only happen in movies about serial killers--far from it. Consider the following sample of examples: a young woman is hunted by a man in Don't Breathe (2016, US$159 million at the worldwide box office); Brad Pitt is shown hunting Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005, US$486 million WBO); Julia Roberts is hunted by men who want to kill her in The Pelican Brief (1993, US$187 million WBO); Whitney Houston is hunted by a man in The Bodyguard (1992, US$410 million WBO); and a teenage boy hunts two teenage girls in Prom Night (1980, US$15 million at the U.S. box office). In the 2008 remake of Prom Night (US$57 million WBO) it is a man who hunts a teenage girl. This small sample represents the tip of the iceberg. My complete list is much longer. To make manageable paragraphs I had to divide the examples into two groups: examples from movies of the 20th century and examples from movies of the 21st century. I deal with serial killers movies--and serial killers hunting women--in a separate chapter because there are enough to warrant a chapter. Given how often filmmakers show audiences women (and girls) hunted by men a person has to ask herself why men hunting women interests men so much. I say men because the vast majority of filmmakers are and have been men.
© 2018 Alline Cormier