TV Violence Against Women Increases
Special Report - November 9, 2009
The fictionalized depiction of graphic violence against women and teenage girls has increased dramatically on prime time television over the past several years, according to a new study by the Parents Television Council (PTC). The special PTC report, “Women in Peril: A Look at TV’s Disturbing New Story-line Trend,” was released October 28 and details the findings from an analysis of “fatal and nonfatal female victimization” during a total of 205.9 hours of prime-time programming (except for sports and news programs) on the major broadcast networks (ABC, Fox, CBS, and NBC). Overall, the study found “a significant increase in all forms of female victimization storylines; an increase in the depiction of teen girls as victims; an increase in the use of female victimization as a punch line in comedy series; and an increase in the depiction of intimate partner violence.”
“Our new research points to a disturbing trend: by depicting violence against women with increasing frequency, or as a trivial, even humorous matter,” said PTC President, Tim Winter, in a press release, “the broadcast networks may ultimately be contributing to a desensitized atmosphere in which people view aggression and violence directed at women as normative, even acceptable.”
While televised depictions of all forms of violence (against men and women) increased by only two percent between 2004 and 2009, the PTC report found that violence against women, including teenage girls, increased by 120 percent. The most frequent types of violence against women depicted on prime time television during the study period were: beatings (29 percent), credible threats of violence (18 percent), shootings (11 percent), rape (8 percent), stabbings (6 percent), and tortures (2 percent). According to the PTC, violence against women on prime time TV resulted in death 19 percent of the time. While the study notes that most of the depictions of violence against women involved adult women, there was a 400 percent increase in the depiction of teenage girls as victims between 2004 and 2009.
Other key findings from the study include:
- The increase in violence against women during primetime occurred on all of the major networks, except for ABC, between 2004 and 2009;
- There was an 81 percent increase in depictions of intimate partner violence against women during the time period studied;
- “Fox stood out for using violence against women as a punch line in its comedies” (mainly on programs such as “Family Guy” and “American Dad”).
- The overwhelming majority of violence against women on primetime TV was depicted (92 percent), rather than simply implied (5 percent) or described (3 percent).
“We are calling on television producers and network executives, members of the advertising community, elected representatives and appointed government officials, and most importantly, the viewing public, to stand up against this disturbing trend,” Winter added. “In a country where more than 60 percent of children have been exposed to violence in their daily lives, according to recent research by Justice Department, we must take the utmost care not to normalize violent behavior especially violence against women through our television programming.”
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.