This blog was originally published on Melinda Tankard Reist's blog on May 3rd 2010.
Lindsay Lohan goes with the (blood) flow
[Trigger warning. Images of violence, self-harm]
It seems nothing is off limits to be sexified for the purposes of grabbing attention and flogging stuff, whether it be a company’s products, a music video, or reviving a celebrity’s flagging career.
Glamourising violence against women as sexy is the latest trend. Blood has become the new black.
Violence. Fear. Threat. Torture. Scenes depicting rape. Women murdering each other. Women who want to die. Suicide porn. It seems the world just can’t get enough of women made submissive by fear, battered women, women seeking self-annihilation, dead women. Nothing like a hot female corpse (and so much less trouble than the real thing, don’t you think?).
And now it’s actress Lindsay Lohan’s turn. In a photo shoot and video clip, just released, Lohan is dressed in dominatrix style lingerie, black stocking and boots. Lohan is smeared in fake blood. In one scene she holds a gun to her mouth. In another a man standing over her points a gun at her as she lies on the floor.
Deeply disturbing are what could be read as indications of self-harm on her arms, especially around her wrists. There is a trickle of blood at the side of her mouth. The photo and video shoot take place in front of a blood spattered wall: a mural of sliding red. Though about to be killed, or about to kill herself, Lohan is also shown as sexy, prone, arching her body, breasts pushed out, legs spread. Lindsay, do you not care about the message this sends?
Even murder and suicide are sexy.
This is just the latest in a towering monument to the celebration of violence against women.
I’ve written here before about how violence is being made sexy. I’ve highlighted t.shirts celebrating brutality against women with slogans like “It’s not rape if you yell surprise” and “It’s not rape, it’s surprise sex”. Another t.shirt says “I like my women battered”.
In March 2008 I wrote about a shoe company, Loula, which ran a full page colour ad campaign in Harper’s Bazaar, featuring a murdered woman trussed up in the boot of a car. Just in time for International Women’s Day. For a store opening just blocks from where exactly that happened to a real woman, Maria Korp.
Fortunately, thanks to a campaign against the ad by a number of anti-violence women’s groups, it was pulled.
But of course, this wasn’t a one off.
We’ve seen Vogue Italia’s ‘terror porn’ fashion shoot which showed women being terrorised by security guards and German Shepherds.
And Dolce and Gabbana’s ads depicting a woman pinned to the ground by a bare-chested man while other men who look like they are waiting their turn, look on (the ad was banned in Italy).
Then there was America’s Next Top Model’s ‘Crime Scenes’ episode in which the aim was to look at sexy as possible – dead. To add to the appeal, the models were depicted as having murdered each other. Electrocuted, poisoned, stabbed, drowned, organs harvested, decapitated. Ooohh, cat fight – to the death!
All this at 6.30pm on a Sunday night, just before Australian Idol.
And then there’s these taken from Jean Kilbourne’s Killing Me Softly 3. The caption on the second says ‘Great hair never dies’.
And now Lindsay Lohan, soaked in blood, showing us you can still sell yourself as a sex object while threatening to kill yourself. Self harm is the highest cause of hospital admission for girls aged 13 to 19 in Australia. Should it be treated so lightly? Should it be seen as something you do if you want to be seen as hot and sexy? Branding yourself with blood as some kind of artistic statement?
All these images and messages make a mockery of global campaigns to stop the abuse of women. They feed violence, fuel violence and contribute to an environment which every day becomes more dangerous for women and girls.