Gender and Force in the Media


1Addressing the diverse field of gender and violence, the current issue of Gender Gorum brings together aspects of gender-based violence and its traumatic repercussions as part of our everyday society. The contributors examine various themes such as sexism, rape and murder thus leading to questions of victimhood and the representation of victims in news and mass media. While men also fall victim to rape and other forms of violence, this issue is dedicated to the investigation of violence towards women and the forms of feminist narrative that empower abused women to fight not just their abuser, but the patriarchal system at large.

2This issue features an interview with feminist activist Anne Wizorek. Frustrated by the lack of dialogue about everyday occurances of sexism and sexual harassment in Germany, Wizorek initiated the twitter campaign #aufschrei and has since become one of the leading figures in the fight against sexual harassment. Despite her tight schedule Anne Wizorek was kind enough to speak with us.

3Johanna Schorn’s contribution “Empowerment Through Violence: Feminism and the Rape-Revenge Narrative in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” provides a view on the constructions of rape victims in popular as well as news media and the ways in which they are consistently denied agency. In most cases, passivity is perceived as the hallmark of a ‘true victim’, one of the only alternatives being the presentation of a rape-revenge narrative, in which the victim reclaims agency and resorts to violence to avenge her own rape, insinuating that brute physical force may be a victim’s only recourse in a rape culture dominated by systemic misogyny. By using Stieg Larsson’s novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as an example, Johanna Schorn examines the feminist potential of the rape-revenge narrative and its application in the novel.

4In the following contribution, Laura von Czarnowsky discusses in her article “The postmortal rape survivor and the paradox of female agency across different media: Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones and its 2009 film adaptation” the ways in which Peter Jackson’s film adaptation diverges from Sebold’s 2002 bestseller and especially its feminist agenda. Sebold’s novel challenges the silencing process surrounding the crime of rape by paradoxically establishing a postmortal rape survivor as its narrator. In contrast, the film rewrites the story as one wherein entrapment of innocence is the dominant theme and the myth of the helpless ‘perfect victim’ finds perpetuation.

5In her article “Murderous Honor Past and Present: Webster’s Duchess of Malfi and Contemporary Crimes of Honor”, Sarah Youssef looks at cases of ‘honor killings’ worldwide, discussing not only current cases of Banaz Mahmod (UK) and Arzu Ö. (Germany) which received wide media coverage, but also cases in performing arts. Here John Webster’s Jacobean play, The Duchess of Malfi, proves to be exceptionally relevant when looking at the relationship of ‘honor’, family, justice, and women’s rights then and now. Youssef argues that ‘honor killings’ are not limited to class, geography or gender (although the majority of the victims are women) but are a socio-political issue that needs to be addressed globally.

6Finally, a review by Gibson Ncube of Lawrence R. Schehr’s French Post-Modern Masculinities: From Neuromatrices to Seropositivity, rounds up this issue. Ncube values the diversity of Schehr’s last monograph which examines contemporary French cultural productions including novels, essays, films and graphic novels in relation to representations and depictions of masculinity and masculine sexualities.