I glimpsed a copy of the Saint Mary's University student newspaper, The Journal, this morning. The "cover story" was a comic-book styled Halloween skit starring a cat, Batman, and Britney Spears. It begins innocuously enough, with "Britney" starting up an impromptu concert until "Batman" "senses danger," at which time he punches Britney out, inviting her to "suck knuckles" in the process.
Brilliant and original, the paper thinks that knocking out Britney Spears is comic gold. This is yet another example of a university newspaper making light of violence against women. See a separate example, which also contains links to still more recent examples, about a Central CT State story entitled "Rape Only Hurts If You Fight It" here. No doubt the SMU editorial staff will throw up their hands and say that it was "all in good fun" and not "something to be taken seriously." Of course, in the context of a patriarchy in which violence against women is all-pervasive, it is never acceptable to portray violence against women.
I'd like to encourage everyone to send a letter to the SMU Journal to let them know that their "comic story" was decidedly not funny and contributes to the problem. You can reach the Journal's editor, Amanda Wenek, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I sent the following:
To the Editor:
This morning I happened to pick up a discarded copy of a recent issue of The Journal. Imagine my disappointment and outrage when I saw that the Halloween story on the front page climaxed with Batman knocking out Britney Spears and winning the applause of everyone around him for doing so. With that, the SMU paper has joined a long list of university newspapers that portray and make light of violence against women. In this past year, university newspapers have treated rape, sexual assault, and men's violence against women as a joke, something used to generate comedy and sell extra copies while making legitimate and acceptable a major problem in our society.
Let me be clear: there is no acceptable situation that portrays violence against women. I don't care if you think you were being cute, or flip, or tongue-in-cheek; when the problem of violence against women is at such a high rate that Status of Women Canada estimates that between 1-in-3 and 2-in-5 women will experience male violence in their lives, the context of that violence is always prevalent. In any format or media, real or stylized, actual or acted, violence against women is something that we should never condone, promote, encourage, or portray in a quasi-positive light. I hope that, in a future issues, the SMU Journal will print an apology for promoting violence against women, and exercise better judgment at the editorial level in the future so that this outrageous incident will not be repeated.