I Won’t Look: Refusing to Engage with Gender-Based Violence in Women-Led Screen Media

Harrison, Rebecca (2024). I Won’t Look: Refusing to Engage with Gender-Based Violence in Women-Led Screen Media. In: Berridge, Susan and Boyle, Karen eds. Routledge Companion to Gender, Media and Violence. London: Routledge.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003200871

Abstract

In this chapter, I grapple with the challenges that I have faced when choosing not to watch women-led screen media that depicts gender-based violence. Referring back to an article I wrote in 2018 that called for more people in the screen industries and education to engage with the work of women media-makers, I consider the implications of refusing to do so when the work focuses on violence against women. For, as a survivor, I have since found myself not watching critically acclaimed films and television shows, including Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein (Ursula Macfarlane, 2019), I May Destroy You (Michaela Coel, 2020) and Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020).

The chapter asks three main questions. How does the act of refusal make me feel, and why? How has scholarship informed my identity as both a feminist and audience member? And why does the academy continue to privilege certain kinds of critical engagement over others?

Drawing on a range of approaches, including intersectional feminist theory, disability and survivor justice, classroom pedagogy, and film history methodologies, the chapter argues against the centring of the gaze and instead advocates a reframing of what it means to engage with screen media.

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