While analyzing the theme of violence against women (VaW) in The Sopranos, the most significant aspect is to investigate the purpose of depicting violence in the TV show. Thus, the major research question will be “Does The Sopranos endorse or criticize VaW through the frequent depiction of the scenes of cruelty?” The hypothesis of the research paper will be “The portrayal of VaW in The Sopranos promotes the vicious treatment of women by men.” To check the hypothesis, the primary and secondary sources will be addressed.
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Among the primary sources, there will be TV series episodes and scholarly articles focused on the gender (sexual) inequality theory. Secondary sources will include academic papers on VaW and the concept of patriarchy.
To find an answer to the research question and prove or reject the hypothesis, it is necessary to analyze all sources carefully. The theme is closely related to the sexual inequality theory, and Brewer and Smith’s article helps to understand this issue better.
In their research, these scholars investigate the impact of sex-based inequality on female victimization. Brewer and Smith conclude that social aspects, such as the level of education and the degree of poverty, have a more significant effect on women’s victimization than gender aspects (187). However, researchers remark that their findings do not necessarily reject the possibility of victimization to be influenced by gender inequality (Brewer and Smith 187). They suggest analyzing the question from different perspectives and with a larger sample.
In her article, Yodanis investigates the relationship between VaW, gender inequality, and fear. The scholar argues that females’ occupational and educational status is closely associated with the prevalence of VaW (Yodanis 655). Moreover, Yodanis notes that such prevalence differs between countries and, thus, those with the lower status of women tend to have higher levels of violence (655). As well as Brewer and Smith, Yodanis concludes that women’s social status is the decisive factor in men’s predisposition to demonstrate cruelty against them. The author argues that gender inequality has a twofold nature: on the one hand, it is structural and on the other hand, it is ideological (Yodanis 656).
The ideological character of patriarchy is manifested through values and norms associated with females’ roles and status in society. Meanwhile, the structural aspect involves females’ access to various social institutions and their position within them (Yodanis 656). Yodanis argues that VaW is not less related to gender inequality than it is to fear (661).
In the article analyzing the interview with The Sopranos’ creator, David Chase, Johnson discusses the perceptions of violence in the TV show by the audience and offers Chase’s justification of such depiction. Johnson remarks that the creator and writers of the show are familiar with “ongoing debates in feminism over sexuality and power” (Johnson). However, despite such awareness, The Sopranos’ makers do not seem to acknowledge the extent to which they advertise VaW, considering the viewers’ reaction as “misinterpretation” (Johnson).
In one of Chase’s interviews, he tries to redirect attention from the theme of cruelty to the “larger fields of cultural violence,” such as family values and capitalism (Johnson). Still, as the author remarks, The Sopranos seems to “make a knowing reference” to the history of the “feminist sex wars” (Johnson). Therefore, it is viable to assume that the makers of the TV series intentionally portray VaW as a promotion of such behavior among men.
Brewer, Victoria E., and M. Dwayne Smith. “Gender Inequality and Rates of Female Homicide Victimization Across U.S. Cities.” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, vol. 32, no. 2, 1995, pp. 175-190.
Johnson, Lisa. “The Stripper as Resisting Reader: Stripper Iconography and Sex Worker Feminism on The Sopranos.” Feminist Television Studies: The Case of HBO, 2004. Web.
Yodanis, Carrie L. “Gender Inequality, Violence Against Women, and Fear: A Cross-National Test of the Feminist Theory of Violence Against Women.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, vol. 19, no. 6, 2004, pp. 655-675.