On this international day of mobilization, here are ten works to (re) discover that address violence against women.
Officially proclaimed by the UN on November 25, 1999, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women aims to raise public awareness on all forms of gender-based and sexual violence. This day of mobilization also urges States to make themselves capable of fighting and condemning this violence.
While feminist associations tirelessly alert and challenge, as mobilizations multiply and women’s voices seem to be increasingly taken into account, protective measures against this violence are still often deemed insufficient.
The figures speak for themselves: 137 women are killed every day by a member of their family (UN); during her lifetime, one in three women is a victim of physical or sexual violence (WHO); in France, 81% of women have already been victims of sexual harassment in public places; 87% of victims of domestic violence are women; only 13% of rape victims file a complaint … And, since the start of 2021, 103 French women have been killed by their spouse or ex-spouse.
On this day of mobilization, the drafting of L’Éclaireur Fnac invites you to discover or rediscover a handful of films, series, and books which have contributed, each in their own way, to denouncing the violence suffered by women.
Until the hilt, by Xavier Legrand
Four times awarded at the César in 2019, including the prize for best film, and awarded the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2017, Up to custody (2017) is a chilling film about domestic and intra-family violence, carried by the masterful interpretations of Léa Drucker and Denis Ménochet. A film where violence is deaf and returned, making its outbursts all the more striking. Miriam (Léa Drucker) and Antoine (Denis Ménochet) are in the midst of a divorce: Miriam seeks to protect her 11-year-old son from a father whom she accuses of repeated violence. Despite his efforts, the latter obtains joint custody of young Julien. By importing the codes of thriller, even horror cinema, into the domestic space, Xavier Legrand signs a film of great magnitude which manages to masterfully reproduce the tetany felt by the characters at the mere sight of their executioner.
The Color Purple, by Steven Spielberg
Adapted from the eponymous novel by Alice Walker, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1983, The Color Purple (1985) marks a turning point in Steven Spielberg’s filmography. Here he addresses the painful questions of violence against women and its reification. A leading role for Whoopi Goldberg, who plays Celie, a teenager victim of her father’s incestuous relationships, who gives her – then tears off – two children, then forcibly married to a violent husband played by Danny Glover. Undergoing the abuse of a tyrannical husband which reduces her to the rank of a sexual object, Celie is traumatized, but clings to the hope of finding her sister, Nettie. What will finally hold her will be her decisive encounters with inspiring female figures, such as singer Shug Avery (Margaret Avery) and Sophia (Oprah Winfrey), symbols of freedom and emancipation.
Hell, by Claude Chabrol
Based on the screenplay of the famous unfinished film by Henri-Georges Clouzot with Romy Schneider and Serge Reggiani, French filmmaker Claude Chabrol made a dizzying film in 1994 where a man’s jealousy will turn into a nightmare. Paul, played by François Cluzet, becomes boss of the inn where he worked and marries Nelly (Emmanuelle Béart). In debt and alcoholic, Paul becomes more and more suspicious of the actions of his wife, whose infidelities he believes he sees. Over the course of the film, the noose tightens around Nelly, victim of her husband’s paranoia and violence. A descent into Hell where the destructive male gaze weighs with all its weight on the character of Emmanuelle Béart.
The series became a phenomenon as soon as it arrived on Netflix. Adapted from autobiographical bestseller by Stephanie Land, Maid rThis tells the story of Alex, who just left her abusive boyfriend. The 25-year-old mother accepts an underpaid job as a housekeeper to support her daughter. We follow her in her financial galleys, in administrative puzzles to obtain aid, and to rebuild herself after having fled this abusive relationship. The series shows how difficult it is for some women to see themselves as victims when they have not been beaten. She rightly addresses the difficulty of detaching oneself from the hold of the other and the social and financial consequences of violence.
I May Destroy You (MyCanal)
The show drew a standing ovation at the last Emmy Awards and received the award for best screenplay in a miniseries. In this autofiction, actress and director Michaela Coel delivers a personal trauma: the rape she suffered in 2016. The series describes the journey of Arabella, a young Londoner who was drugged and raped in a bar. The spectator follows her psychological reconstruction, the defense mechanisms that she puts in place, her relationship with her friends and their reaction when she tells them about her traumatic experience. I May Destrou You questions sexuality, consent, rape and sexual assault.
Big Little Lies (OCS)
At first glance, this series looks like Desperate Housewives 2.0: beauty, wealth and friends who meet to discuss their Californian life and their perfect families. But the reality is darker. Worn by an XXL cast (Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Nicole Kidman, among others), Big Little Lies highlights violence against women. The series deals with rape, physical, psychological and marital violence. The viewer witnesses this brutality and the complexity of toxic and abusive relationships. The characters do not fall into caricature and the story is captivating, sublimated by a brilliant realization and a particularly successful soundtrack.
Human things, by Karine Tuil
In Human things (Gallimard, 2021), Karine Tuil immerses herself in the heart of the #MeToo and #BalanceTonPorc movements to grasp their scope. Inspired by a real case, that of a young woman raped on the Stanford University campus in 2015, this novel questions society and its relationship to feminism, the culture of rape and communitarianism. Without fearing problematic questions or ambiguities, the author reports on a particularly romantic mediatico-legal machinery, in which characters as embodied as they are socially determined struggle – all of them convinced of being in their rightfulness. 1er next December will be released in theaters an adaptation of this text, produced by Yvan Attal.
The time of fire will come, by Wendy Delorme
Between feminist utopia and patriarchal dystopia, The time of fire will come (Cambourakis, 2021) highlights the injustices done to women and the resulting violence. In a language of rare poetry, the author indeed pushes to the absurd the logics which still govern our patriarchal societies, to reveal the aberrations: it is the dystopian society that she describes. This society responds to the organization made up of those who fled it, and who, together, reinvent possibilities for inhabiting the world.
The Scarlet Handmaid, by Margaret Atwood
Released in a new translation at the beginning of the year, The Scarlet Handmaid is an Anglo-Saxon classic of feminist dystopian literature. This anticipatory novel published by Canadian writer Margaret Atwood in 1985 takes place in the near future, where religion dominates politics within a totalitarian regime. Women are devalued and exploited to the point of enslavement: they have lost the right to work and read, and are reduced to their sexual and / or reproductive functions. The political and narrative effectiveness of this text has been put to good use in its serial adaptation, The Handmaid’s Tale (OCS), which critical and popular success has turned into a real phenomenon.
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These works that have helped to make violence against women visible