Friday, June 18, 2010

Piñatas For Adults Are Really About Violence Against Women

A piñata store in Texas is doing brisk business selling piñatas of women dressed suggestively on stripper poles.  Some of the piñatas are topless.

Tanscript :27
Erica Garcia: I have an eight year old boy and when he saw that he was like Mommy, so that really freaked me out.

00:42: Esmeralda  Ruiz: I always tell them to turn their head away. because I don't want them to see that.

When I watched the above video, I was shocked that the KRGV, a CNN affiliate, chose to focus the story on the harm done to children as they drive past the location.The offensive piñatas are hanging in the store window, thus making them fully visible to the public.  These piñatas hang next to Batman and Elmo, as if there is not something  extremely perverse about them.

According to the report, the Elmo and Batman piñatas sell for fifteen dollars, whereas; the women sell for forty dollars. Even in this instance, sex and violence sell.  A reporter spoke to an employee who claimed that the offensive piñatas are big sellers for bachelor parties, and that wives buy them for their husbands. 

I can certainly agree that as a parent, I would not want my child to see piñatas of half naked women on stripper poles.  My anger would be because of what these piñatas symbolize - violence against women; however, I think that it is reductive to frame a story in a way that privileges the harm done to children, over the very specific damage that this does to women and girls.

These piñatas are meant to be sold as a form of celebration, however; in this instance, celebration means encouraging men to take pleasure in using a stick to hit an item designed specifically to look like a marginalized woman.  It is highly problematic that they constructed these piñatas to look like sex-workers, because of the high level of violence aimed at these women.  It is assumed by many, that because these women sell their bodies for subsistence, that this somehow denies them the right to be free of male violence.  What this store is selling, is a celebration of violence against an already targeted group of women.

It seems to me that the reporter was more interested in pointing out that  because the piñatas are designed to look like sex workers that they are damaging.  I don't think for one moment it is because she even recognized the danger that sex workers live with. I think that this position came from the assumption that sex workers are by default disgusting and dirty, rather than women who are at times struggling with various issues.  Many of these women are placed in this position specifically by patriarchy for the purposes of exploitation. And when we turn our back on them, we are saying that the lives of a subset of women do not matter -- and conversely that only a certain caliber and or type of woman deserves respect based in the roles that she fulfills.  This creates a sliding scale that allows justification of violence based in circumstance.  This is a defalcation of the concept of equality between people and more specifically a betrayal of women.

Are children damaged by seeing these piñatas? Certainly, but I daresay that the real live women and girls that these men will go on to beat will be far more impacted.  We live in a culture that celebrates violence against women and therefore so-called celebratory items such as these cannot be ignored because the next step is the broken and battered body of a woman because some man that this is his right.

h/t georgia mae