Sunday 5 May 2019

Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz-Starus: In Mourning and In Rage (1977)

Published on Nov 24, 2010 by OtisCollege
YouTube: In Mourning and Rage (8:05)
Suzanne Lacy, Leslie Labowitz, Bia Lowe (Los Angeles, 1977)

In December 1977, Los Angeles waited in suspense as each new victim of the "Hillside Strangler" was broadcast on the evening's news. Soon there were ten women, strangled and dumped on the sides of roads. Media sensationalized these victims' lives, contributing to a climate of fear and superstition. In spite of a growing body of literature on the politics of crimes against women, stories focused instead on the randomness of the violence.

Photo credit, Susan Mogul

Wikipedia: In Mourning and in Rage
In Mourning and in Rage was a work of performance art and activism by Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz. The performance took place in Los Angeles, California in 1977 as a response to the rapes and murders covered by the media in the "Hillside Strangler" case. "As if the horror of these crimes wasn't enough, the press coverage of the events sensationalized the sexual nature of the crimes. For feminist activists in Los Angeles involved in the movement to end violence against women, this analysis was unacceptable."

A continuation of Three Weeks in May, Lacy and Labowitz designed In Mourning and in Rage as a personal response to the sensationalized media coverage of violence against women as well as an expression of grief and rage towards the loss of life. The performance was a collaboration between Lacy, Labowitz, Bia Lowe, Holly Near, City Councilwoman Pat Russel, the Woman's Building, Women Against Violence Against Women, and Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women. The event was staged for mass media coverage at the Los Angeles City Hall.

The performance consisted of a large funeral motorcade of black-clad women lead by a hearse from the Woman's Building to the Los Angeles City Hall. Once there, nine seven-feet-tall women draped in black emerged from the hearse along with a women dressed in red. The mourners then climbed the steps of city hall where each of the nine women gave a statement into a microphone expressing their solidarity with the murdered women, emphasized by a chorus of "In memory of our sisters, we fight back!" from the rest of the motorcade. By making this performance public as well as highly crafted for media coverage, Lacy and Labowitz looked to highlight not only the deaths of the ten women killed by the Hillside Strangler, but the significantly larger population of women victims whose stories went uncovered by mainstream media.

The piece concluded with direct statements to the press explaining the rationale for the piece as well as a speech demanding resources for women's self defense. Singer-songwriter Holly Near performed her song "Fight Back" which was written specifically for this event.

In Mourning and in Rage was highly covered by the press and resulted in increased support from Los Angeles City Council members and a pledge from the Rape Hotline Alliance to provide self defense classes.

To further the conversation about social action and art, Lacy and Labowitz produced a video documenting In Mourning and in Rage as well as a pamphlet entitled What is Social Art?.

My question: Why do men perpetrate violence against women?
The WHO has studied the statistics. One may argue that the above crime is not comparable, however my question is about why the above men targeted only women. Is this in some way related to the Incel movement? (my blog: Incel, Insane, Incensed - May 31/2014)

World Health Organization - Nov 29/2017
Wikipedia: Violence against women
  • Violence against women – particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence – is a major public health problem and a violation of women's human rights.
  • Global estimates published by WHO indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
  • Most of this violence is intimate partner violence. Worldwide, almost one third (30%) of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by a male intimate partner.
  • Violence can negatively affect women’s physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health, and may increase the risk of acquiring HIV in some settings.
  • Men are more likely to perpetrate violence if they have low education, a history of child maltreatment, exposure to domestic violence against their mothers, harmful use of alcohol, unequal gender norms including attitudes accepting of violence, and a sense of entitlement over women.
  • Women are more likely to experience intimate partner violence if they have low education, exposure to mothers being abused by a partner, abuse during childhood, and attitudes accepting violence, male privilege, and women’s subordinate status.
  • There is evidence that advocacy and empowerment counselling interventions, as well as home visitation are promising in preventing or reducing intimate partner violence against women.
  • Situations of conflict, post conflict and displacement may exacerbate existing violence, such as by intimate partners, as well as and non-partner sexual violence, and may also lead to new forms of violence against women.

"So this male friend of mine, who does by the way exist, conveniently entered into the following dialogue. I said, "men are bigger, most of the time, they can run faster, strangle better, and they have on the average a lot more money and power." "They're afraid women will laugh at them," he said. "Undercut their world view." Then I asked some women students in a quickie poetry seminar I was giving, "Why do women feel threatened by men?" "They're afraid of being killed," they said."
-Margaret Atwood, Wikiquote


Suzanne Lacy: In Mourning and In Rage (1977)

Wikipedia: Suzanne Lacy
Suzanne Lacy (b 1945) is an American artist, educator, and writer, professor at the USC Roski School of Art and Design. She has worked in a variety of media, including installation, video, performance, public art, photography, and art books, in which she focuses on "social themes and urban issues."

Wikipedia: Leslie Labowitz-Starus
Leslie Labowitz-Starus (b 1946) is an American performance artist and urban farmer based in Los Angeles.

Wikipedia: Hillside Strangler
The Hillside Strangler, later the Hillside Stranglers, is the media epithet for one, later two American serial killers who terrorized Los Angeles between October 1977 and February 1978, with the nicknames originating from the fact that many of the victims' bodies were discovered in the hills surrounding greater Los Angeles. The police, however, knew because of the positions of the bodies that two individuals were killing together, but withheld this information from the press. These two individuals were discovered to be cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono Jr., who were later convicted of kidnapping, raping, torturing and murdering 10 women and girls ranging in age from 12 to 28 years old.


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