real life

These photos are not "raising awareness". They're glamourising violence against women.



Trigger warning: This post deals with domestic violence and may be distressing for some readers.

Tasteless fashion shoots are nothing new, especially not for Italian Vogue, which published a controversial blackface editorial earlier this year.

But this month’s cover shoot – which pictures beautiful, vulnerable-looking women wearing the likes of Balenciaga, Miu Miu, Fendi and Marc Jacobs and screaming as they’re threatened with guns and knives – really turned our stomachs.

And worst of all? Is the magazine’s claim that the shoot of horror movie victims is somehow intended to “raise awareness” of violence against women.

Mamamia has always been a strong advocate for domestic violence discourse, and of course we’re all for starting a discussion about this pervasive issue, even through non-conventional means.

But there are other ways to achieve that aim than perpetuating the stereotype that says there’s something cool, edgy and arty about showing women mutilated, frightened, covered in blood, or threatened with weapons. And that’s just what the images appear to do: reinforce the status quo, not challenge it.

Or, as indeed, as Jezebel notes, simply replicate the many other editorials containing similar images, which “have glamorized the female body as a site of violence without having any kind of political message attached”.

The controversial magazine appears to have expected this criticism, writing on its website:

It doesn’t matter if we run the risk of causing a general uproar with the media or arousing criticism; or if we are accused of exploiting pressing issues just to push our way in newsstands.

What is important for us is that at least one of the dozens of women suffering violence every day can feel our nearness. And that those who follow us may feel stimulated to take action, condemn, and support women in trouble. And that they all see that all of us at “Vogue Italia” are on their side: by utterly and radically condemning all types of violence. This awareness urges us to make some noise. In our own way.

Hm. Aside from the statement’s insinuation that the victims of domestic violence comprise “dozens of women” (when in reality, one in three women in Australia alone experience violence), we’re not sure how the use of sexed-up images of men harming women to actively sell luxury products could be seen to condemn violence.

Have a browse through the images and tell us whether you agree.

The shoot is also accompanied by this video, which features similarly graphic images intercut with whispered phrases like “pain is ephemeral” and “only when confronted with death can you understand yourself”.

Watch it here:

What do you think of this spread and the video? Effective in raising awareness or completely tasteless and disturbing?

If you believe you may be an abusive partner, you can receive help via Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277. If you have experienced, or are at risk of domestic violence or sexual assault, you can receive help by calling 1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732. If you are in immediate danger, please call the police on 000.

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