Women in Peril: A Look at TV’s Disturbing New Storyline Trend

By Sadie Bass

Oct 30, 2009 10:09am

ABC's Tom Shine reports from Washington: "A woman is shown getting beaten before a perpetrator unzips his pants and says he's going to show her 'just how functional he really is,'" – a scene from the FOX TV series Prison Break which aired on May 15, 2009
 
"A young, half-dressed girl covered in blood is lying face down in the street.  An investigator remarks that somebody hit her when she was already down and it flashes back to the crime which includes the victim (who appears unconscious) being undressed and kicked by  a male and female perpetrator while blood flies in the air," — an April 30, 2009 scene from the CBS hit, CSI.
 
Just two of many examples to go along with a new report, released by the Parents Television Council that concludes, "storylines depicting violence against females are increasing and being shown more graphically and in ways that have not been seen in the history of television."  PTC analysts looked at 209 hours of television programming during the February and May 2004 and 2009 sweeps and found the following:
 
"Violence, irrespective of gender, on television increased during the study period only 2% from 2004 to 2009, while the incidence of violence against women increased 120% during that same period."
 
"Cumulatively, across all study periods and all networks, the most frequent type of violence was beating (29%), followed by credible threats of violence, (18%), shootings (11%), rape (8%), stabbing (6%), and torture (2%).  Violence against women resulted in death 19% of the time."
 
"Violence against women or the graphic consequences of violence tends overwhelmingly to be depicted 92% of the time, rather than implied (5%) or described (3%)."
 
According to the report there was an 81% increase in the incidence of intimate partner violence on television from 2004 to 2009 and FOX was on top of the heap when it came to using "violence against women as a punch line in its comedies."
 
PTC says every network with the exception of ABC demonstrated a dramatic increase in the number of storylines that included violence against women between 2004 and 2009.  

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