Last Sunday’s Oscars ceremony came after three weeks of headlines dominated by rape and murder which left no-one in doubt that women in South Africa aren’t safe – even with their partners. We saw protests outside two courtrooms – one in Pretoria, and one in Bredasdorp – and productivity was next to zero as the live feeds kept us spellbound. The rapes of toddlers and elderly women that took place during this period even seemed to get a little more airtime in the local media than the offhand treatment we’d come to expect.
Gender-based violence was finally on the agenda.
Gender bias, meanwhile, was on another agenda, that of Seth MacFarlane who hosted what was supposed to be a celebration of excellence and a big night out for fashion and glamour.
As a prelude to many crass and unfunny jokes, MacFarlane opened with a song called ‘We saw your boobs’, a roundup of movie scenes depicting naked breasts. Infantile as this was, the real issue, as Katie McDonough pointed out on salon.com, was that ‘four of the films MacFarlane crooned about featured nudity during or immediately following violent depictions of rape and sexual assault, stripped of their context and played for laughs.’
These included Hilary Swank (whose ‘boobs’ are seen in Boys Don’t Cry after her character had been brutally raped), Halle Berry (naked in Monster’s Ball, a movie about abuse), Charlize Theron (whose ‘boobs’ are seen immediately after her character’s brutal rape in Monster) and Jodie Foster (‘boobs’ seen during her character’s brutal rape in a bar in The Accused.
An Oscar host celebrating rape in film.
Funny, isn’t it?