Donna Ferrato is a photographer who is well known for her determination to end domestic violence. Her photographs have been published in The New York Times Magazine, Life, Time, USA Today and many other magazines and articles. She tells stories through pictures focused on women who get out of abusive relationships and free of their abuser. She takes photographs that express abusive violence from all perspectives: the victim, the abuser, the audience.
On September 12th, she displayed her first exhibition of her series, “I Am Un-Beatable”, in Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery in Cohen Memorial Hall. “I Am Un-beatable” is a documented photo collection about a girl name Sarah who made it out of an abusive relationship. She met her boyfriend at a very young age. He was 18 and she was 13 when they started dating. He saw how vulnerable she was and used many tactics to make her think he was the one for her. He got her pregnant and made her move in with him and his family. Leaving behind her life, he persuaded her into thinking they will be a happy family. Her fairytale story didn’t turn out to be much of a fairytale. He started mentally, physically, and emotionally abusing her. This isn’t the life she had expected. The moment he broke her jaw was the moment she feared staying with him more than leaving him. She eventually broke free him and moved out on her own with her two kids.
The argument of “I Am Un-Beatable” is that the US needs to stop making domestic violence part of culture. About 25% of women in the US are in an abusive relationships. If kids are involved, 75% of the boys will begin to participate in domestic violence at age 12. These statistics from the exhibition help to show why domestic violence is such a big issue in the US. Females are the easiest target in our society, especially when it comes to sex and getting raped. Donna is trying to empower women to take back their power and stop allowing men get away with hitting them. Male dominance is shown through most her pictures and the males seem to always break all their limits. Males use different tactics into making the female think he loves her. After he has her fooled, it when he changes. The males are violent towards their girlfriends or wives because they feel the need to be a man. The definition of being a man is being in control of what he needs or wants. In most cases, he wants to make sure he has access to sex whenever he wants. Our culture seems to value the male orgasm.
I connected Donna’s photo documentary exhibition to Kristen Barber “Sex and Power” article on heterosexuality and power. Males use sex as a way of having power over many females. Majority of domestic violence is sexually related. The expression of masculine traits such as aggression, power, and violence during sex shapes the meaning of sexuality both for men and women. (45) The female role in sex is to be the submissive and say “yes” to sex. It is all based off what the men desires. When the male doesn’t get what he want, he gets aggressive and very demanding. Sex is viewed as a social power. The male and female get so used to the social constructs society has formed that it becomes part of culture. Females are used to being powerless and males are used to being the aggressor. As a result, many domestic violent situations aren’t reported until it is death threatening because both genders are used to being in these type situation. Females don’t leave their abuser either due to fear, family history or dependency. Women may have less freedom to explore, discover, and play with their own desires and pleasures, but they are not completely powerless. (45) Females need to get back their dignity and demand more control or power.
The Ray Rice situation is a great example of a heterosexual abusive relationship.
As you can see in the video, a heated argument escalated, caused Ray Rice to hit his fiancé. A male hitting a woman is looked down upon in our society. He was knocked his wife unconscious in an elevator as if that is normal. He didn’t call for help or try to see if she was okay. The most ironic part about this situations is that his wife didn’t leave him after being beaten. She asked the public to stop being cruel toward Ray Rice. She isn’t thinking about how embarrassing the video looked, but rather the NFL not cut Ray Rice’s income.
Domestic violence is so common in the US. Sex, power, and relationships may or may not have some correlation between each other. Which sex should control the relationship? Does it matter which sex control the relationship? If the person who is has more control over sex have more power in the relationship? When involved in an abusive relationship, is sex a reason the victim (female) stays in the relationship? After answering these questions, if a male was being sexually abused by a female, would he be considered less of a man, or a “punk”?