TV Violence against Women More Graphic, Frequent than Ever Before, PTC Says

By Melanie Hunter-Omar | October 28, 2009 | 5:04 PM EDT

( – Violence against women on television is being shown with increasing frequency, more graphically and in ways never before seen in TV history, according to a report by a television watchdog group.
The Parents Television Council’s report found found that violence against women increased 120 percent between 2004 and 2009, with the most frequent type of violence being beating (29 percent), followed by credible threats of violence (18 percent), shooting (11 percent), rape (8 percent), stabbing (6 percent) and torture (2 percent). Also, such violence resulted in death 19 percent of the time.
The PTC released its findings in a report titled, “Women in Peril: A Look at TV’s Disturbing New Storyline Trend.” The Parents Television Council advocates for responsible television and was founded by L. Brent Bozell, president and founder of the Media Research Center and the Cybercast News Service.
An increase in violence against women depicted on TV can desensitize people into viewing violence against women in real life as “acceptable,” PTC President Tim Winter suggested.
“Our new research points to a disturbing trend: by depicting violence against women with increasing frequency, or as a trivial, even humorous matter, 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,” Winter said.
The report also found that every television network with the exception of ABC had a significant increase in the number of storylines that included violence against women between 2004 and 2009. There was also a 400 percent increase in the depiction of teenage girls as victims on all networks during the same time period.
“Just last week, actresses like Nicole Kidman testified before the Congress that Hollywood probably has contributed to violence against women by portraying them as weak sex objects. We all must pay attention to the fact that this is a problem in our society,” said PTC Director of Communications and Public Education Melissa Henson. 
“The fact is that children are influenced by what they see on TV and that certainly includes media violence,” Henson added.
The report found that Fox used violence against women as punch lines in its comedies, particularly “Family Guy” and “American Dad,” thus “trivializing the gravity of the issue.”
There was also an 81 percent increase in incidences of “intimate partner violence on television,” the report found.
“Our study today serves as a clarion call to all Americans about a critical issue with dire consequences. 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 said.
“In a country where more than 60% 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,” he added.