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Violence and depictions of abuse in the doll world?

Apr 22, 2007

    1. As BJD have become more popular, there has been an increasingly popular trend of depicting violence and sexual abuse using dolls. Where does this come from? Does viewing depictions of violence/sexual abuse against a non-human object have an effect on real people? Is this quantifiable or supported by any sort of existing research, or is this view based purely on opinion?

      (Please remember rule #4 and do not reveal over-personal information about yourself. Mentions of personal histories of sexual abuse or domestic violence will be removed.)
    2. it's like writing a story about a rape, or drawing gorey pictures. the world is violent and scary, but by making them every day, or putting ourselves thru the event by proxy, we prove to ourselves that we can survive whatever life puts us thru. it's like therapy, sorta, for alot of us.

      honestly, we see so much gore and violence in media now, that in comparison the stuff I see on the doll forum is reletivly mild. watch the news, there's always something awful happening. shoot, CSI miami has some very graphic representations of crimescenes.
      and while some people on here may be sensitive... honestly, I don't have much sympathy for them. they will have to get used to the fact that good, nice people get hurt for no reason. they will have to think about it and accept it, but realize life can go on and it can be a good life. that is why people have these scarred and wounded dolls, to show themselves that they can survive and they are strong.

      when we can look death in the face, we no longer fear it. that is then when we are truly alive.
    3. I personally think that it's simply a love for that which is taboo. Some people simply enjoy exploring dangerous ideas in a safe enviroment, because it allows you to see other parts of life and society without harming yourself or another person.

      Though sometimes I think it's also a matter of receiving a shock reaction, like a lot of gore movies and such. They're designed to give you a shock, and the internet is a great example of lots of shock causing desensitisation. I think that it can be healthy in some ways, because unfortunately it is part of the world that we live in, and it can't always be ignored.
    4. I think it's not the violence that bothers people, it's the glorification of it by other members, at least this is how I feel. I can separate fantasy from reality, but when I see people laughing at a doll getting abused, it's disturbing. They are probably just joking about it with their friends, but it bothers me that they can do something so obnoxious on a forum like this, especially without explaining why they think it's so amusing.

      I also think most people preoccupied with violence probably had a traumatic past, and instead of taking photos of dolls they should be talking about it in therapy :sweat
    5. Where does this come from?
      I think it's just another way a person expresses themselves especially if they have a character in mind that they want to embody in their dolls.
      Does viewing depictions of violence/sexual abuse against a non-human object have an effect on real people?
      I'm not sure if this has any effects on real people since violence and sexual abuse is apart of the world (so long as you haven't had such things effect you personally). That's just my opinion, a person can watch a violent movie and not have anything triggered aside from inital shock. I guess it really depends on a persons moral sense and what the purpose of the Mod is.
      Is this quantifiable or supported by any sort of existing research, or is this view based purely on opinion?
      My opinion.
    6. Hmm, please rephrase this. I don't think you ment for it be as harsh as it sounds. Expand on what you mean if you would.
    7. Usagi, let's try to avoid making judgment about others.

      What irks me is that rape, somehow, has become this edgy new way to try and one up the next person on personal trauma. It's almost gone to the point of glorifying the act as some sort of rite of passage. And I find that appalling.

      With violence, I liken it more to a coping mechanism. We're constantly exposed to it in media and life, so we're not completely surprised by such pictures. But there still is a line between what is normally viewed, and what is better left to discerning audiences.
    8. Partly, I think it reflects the society we live in. People see violence in real life, movies, on tv, etc and that influences what people think about. There is so much violence and abuse in the real world, it would be naive to think that it wouldn't be reflected in the doll world as well.

      Sometimes though it seems like people use a sordid past history of abuse just so others will take the character's pain seriously. It's as if it's not enough to be miserable due to a failed math test or a lost girlfriend, there has to be rape involved or the pain isn't enough. Human emotions are complex, most of us have at some point felt anger that seems to come out of nowhere or started crying over something comparatively trivial. Doll stories are usually less dimensional. Abuse stories bring instant pity, or are meant to, and perhaps some people might relate to a character that suffers, because everyone suffers. It's an instant explanation for a character's behaviour, it's been done many times before so people are comfortable with the plotlines and there's a familiar expectation, one doesn't have to be a brilliant writer to get the details across.

      I think viewing depictions of abuse against a non-human object can definitely have an emotional impact on someone, especially if the characterization is particularly well done. But since most of the people who create these stories are amateurs lacking in photography/ story-telling skills, the effect is usually not quite as emotionally compelling as originally intended. The effect overall isn't, 'and here we have reflected the myriad facets of human pain', it often comes across as a sort of made-for-tv one-dimensional trashiness. Which is unfortunate, because I imagine with many people the desire to portray abusive situations does come from their own experiences of suffering.

      This is just all personal opinion and written without anyone in particular in mind.
    9. It's no "increasing trend". It's just taking place in a newer hobby. I've been in media/SF fandom since the 70's, and fanfiction has ALWAYS doted on violence and terrible things, abuses and injuries happening to characters, to a degree that would horrify the "mundanes" as we called them. And all for the declarations of affection/friendship/connection that come after the character survives. Lilmissmaya made an excellent reply, and also fairly accurate. It's not about glorifying the violence (that's for TV) but for the struggling aftwards with one's demons/baggage.

      As to studies - well, some studies have claimed that showing people violent scenes makes the subjects more prone to exhibiting violence afterwards. However, there's never any documentation about the subjects' propensities before taking part in the studies. It is pretty well established that a lot of youngsters are not learning anger management or deferred gratification skills. Nor were the other life influences, whether cultural or preconceived notions nutured in the family, taken into consideration.

      There will always be people who cannot make that distinction between reality and fantasy. Can we, should we constrict everyone's fantasy universes to make it totally safe for their existence (so they don't hurt us)? Violence and terrible things have always been a staple of fantasy. Ask Red Riding Hood's grandma.

      Personally, I've seen promos for horror flicks that are far worse than anything I've seen depicted with dolls. Heck, Chucky was far more terrifying and had far worse done to his little body than anyone has done here, and for far less redeeming emotional reasons! And his movies are rentable by anyone...

      There's always talk, too, about "desensitizing" people when they're exposed to too much violence. I think that only matters if they then go out and DO violence to others. Perhaps it makes you stronger if you CAN contemplate horrors; you've already dealt with them, in a manner of speaking. That's said to be the benefit of horror films (which have never, to my knowledge, been connected in any provable way to any real-life similar act).

      Anyway, enough talk. I sense another endless thread starting up, and there's already one of those going on already!
    10. Hmm, I also think that depictions of violence/abuse with dolls are kind of a way to make scary things less scary, like lilmissmaya said. And, I must admit, some of it probably does have to do with getting attention (viewers for your photos) and for the shock value.

      As much as we love them and personify them, resin dolls just aren't the same as human beings. They are depictions of humans though, so I think the effects of BJD in violent or abuse situations are similar to such situations depicted in comic books/graphic novels.

      Just my 2 cents! :)
    11. Let's practice what we preach.

      I mean this as sincere advice, kind of confused about why you think it's some sort of attack. People who were abused need to be in therapy to sort out their feelings and cope with what they went through. If someone was abused as a child and is now showing a preoccupation with violence against someone the same gender and age they were when they were abused then it's clear they aren't dealing well with their trauma.

      Also on the question "Does viewing depictions of violence/sexual abuse against a non-human object have an effect on real people?" I did a little research. In an article published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology titled "Desensitization and Resensitization to Violence Against Women; Effects of Exposure to Sexually Violent Films on Judgments of Domestic Violence Victims" it showed that the male test subjects showed that they were less sensitive to the domestic violence victims, but three days after viewing them, the effects went away.

      The researchers cited that there needs to be study on long term effects of constant film watching, however. Although I think this study would be hard to find good results for since the subjects would have to be men who frequently watch violent movies and this would make the sample non-random and would be hard to apply the results to any men who previously had no interest in the films but began watching them for reasons beyond their control.
    12. Dear Usagi, that is not what sounded harsh. What sounded harsh was the fact that you made a very big, blunt assumption that people who portray such things in doll photography, as the main exmaple, do so because they are not dealing with important issues.

      However, you did not back that up with any proof, so it came across as very harsh and quite insulting in the way you worded it. Remember the difference between fact and opinion.
    13. That's in the best of fanfic. Sadly, the vast majority of fanfic follows the formula of:
      1. Hero has horrible trauma happen
      2.Hero acts like a heel
      3.Love interest makes everything better with the healing sex and a hug.
      4. Profit

      With the Chucky movies, however, it's a horror movie, so you sort of know going in what to expect. As for the rental part - places aren't supposed to allow anyone under the age of the rating get a hold of it (there's a huge fine that'll get slapped to the employee/store/company). The same for games. People lose jobs if they're caught doing that.

      The desensitizing part, has a bit of merit. Think about the first time you ever went to a convention. You were maybe a bit overwhelmed at everything going on, but a few cons later, you're part of the "usual" crowd. Maybe you've even gone jaded. The whole experience is no longer an unknown.
    14. I think that part of the prevalence of violence and rape in backstories (or in real-time scenes even) is an attempt to validly characterize the dolls. "I want this character to have angst, so something legitimately horrid must have happened to him/her to make him/her angsty." This works fine as a character development device for fiction, as people who undergo terrible things like that DO have angst.

      However, as the point was made earlier, it's becoming almost a "rite of passage" and the resulting "angst" isn't as valid because we see it all the time. So, we need to find new ways to validate our characters' angst, and the cycle keeps getting worse . . . I'm more interested, actually, in what makes people want characters who suffer through such things. I completely understand necessity for a storyline, and I also understand wanting to watch your character grow and overcome trauma. I do think it may sometimes (and of course, this is just a general statement and certainly isn't meant to apply to everyone) reflect a desire to respond to personal demons of whatever type and/or explore how people (through the characters involved) deal with it. In my opinion, that's a much healthier way to explore types of responses than some other things.

      I'm not sure what I think about the effect fictional violence has on real-world occurrances. On one hand, I believe we DO get desensitized to things we are consistently exposed to, but on the other, that does not necessarily lead to acting out those fictional events at all. An individual could read all the violent photostories s/he wanted and still never think it is okay to do the same thing to a real person. I guess the line here is the same as elsewhere: can we separate fiction from reality? Things that we explore in fiction are sometimes better left there.
    15. It doesn't have to be a real person to have an emotional effect on someone. If someone's the victim of assault, they may not be affected by a picture, but it could hurt them when someone comments something like "He's hot, I want to rape him, lol."

      It's seen frequently, and I have a very hard time believing that the majority of the people who are posting these kinds of things are actually suffering from a traumatic past themselves. That's not to say that all of them aren't, as there may be some people who are suffering and are trying to cope, but given the frequency with which these kinds of traumatic events are happening in backstories and photostories, I doubt that every single person who's posting knows what it's like to be physically or sexually assaulted.

      Maybe I'd have a more optimistic outlook on the whole concept of it being used to make something scary less traumatizing, but considering the number of "that's hot" comments I see on this board (and on other boards) when it's dealing with violence or rape, I just can't see it that way.

      No, I don't believe that people who see violence are then going to turn around and become violent themselves. However, desensitizing goes both ways. You may be desensitized to the violent act itself, and it does not bother you in fictional situations, but at the same time, you may also be desensitized to the point where you lose sympathy for people who may have experienced that sort of violence for real.
    16. I think that viewing violence does have an impact on the viewer, especially during the developmental stages. This, of course, has been backed up by numerous studies, one of the most famous being the Bobo Doll Experiment where it was concluded that a child emmulates the violence it views. I find this particular study ironic, due to the doll facet, where the children took their aggression out on dolls.

      Of course, I don't think that the media, or viewing violence, is purely responsible for violent acts, despite it seeming that there is an increase in at least the 'acceptance' of violence in society as a form of entertainment.

      I think there does run a risk of desensitisation to violence, and I think this is refelcted when there is an abudance of dolls that are abused, hurt, or violated as part of their character. I think, however, that there is a very fine line between using these things in a well-thought out character arc, and glorifying them as something desirable. It's almost as if living a life without being violated in some respect means the life is boring.

      I do wonder what's to blame for this. If shows like Oprah and Jerry Springer highlight the 'celebrity' potential of an abusive past. There is certainly a huge niche market for 'quasi-fiction' that depicts a past (particularly childhood) filled with abuse. It's almost as if there is some sort of glory in getting over it.

      I wonder if popular fiction like 'Harry Potter' contributes to the notion too, with the main character escaping a horribly abusive childhood to become a 'hero' while one of the character's enemies (Draco Malfoy) supposedly does not have a similar past (he's portrayed, at least through Harry's eyes, as having a very deisrable childhood) and is shown to be a bit of a bully because of it.

      Now I'm not saying these stories are responsible for the glorification of violence, of which the doll community is a reflection, along with other fandoms, and I certainly don't think they were written in this light. But at the same time there is definitely money to be made from a tragic past, and as such, these events are heralded as something worthwhile.

      I think when it comes to dolls, a lot of characters are simply reflections of what people are currently interested in, whether it be popular fiction and the trend of fantasy novels, celebrities who make money from talking about their pasts and 'rise to fame', and that in itself is definitely not isolated to this hobby.

      Also, like other people have mentioned, it is a mimic of what we see every day of our lives - tragedy. It's a facet of humanity that has always existed, if not perhaps more available now because of instant communication due to advances in technology.
    17. To quote one of my favorite philosophers, “Formally, the body was dominantly conceptualized as a fixed, unitary, primarily physiological reality. Today, more and more scholars have come to regard the body as a historical, plural, culturally mediated form” (Bordo, Unbearable Weight, pg 288 ).

      Thus, I see this as a reason why we seesuch depictions on this forum. Instead of using the human body (as Bordo is discussing) people are using the bodies of their dolls as a why to express (whether consciously or not) cultural struggles and realities that exists within their lives.

      These issues are extremely sensitive to certain members that may be be struggling with the political and cultural elements being played out on their own bodies (Bordo does discuss violence towards women and eating disorders as sometimes being the center of such struggles).

      I do not feel that these forums are a place that people should be bombarded with these cultural issues. This is a place where many of us have come to relax and enjoy ourselves in our free time. If those who run this forum want to purge it of certain cultural and social messages it is their right to do so. There are plenty of other places to receive such intense messages.
    18. Thank you Darky, my thoughts to the T.
    19. ...Are you a trained psychologist...? XDD If not, than this is sort of out of place. And by 'sort of' I mean 'really'.

      In any case, I'll say my piece here, coming from the personal experience of having made one of these dolls.

      I did not make Henry for the attention, nor for the 'shock value', nor to try and push the rules. I made Henry because honestly, taking a dremel to a doll's head is one of the most entertaining things I've ever done in this hobby XD
      The character comes from a 'species' I've been refining for years. Yes, they're undead. Yes, they come from Hell. But if you've followed Henry's photostories, you'll see he's not a mindless brain-eating monster. That sort of character just doesn't appeal to me, personally. The gore on him is not a function of his personality - if anything, I enjoy the contrast between his personality and appearance.
      Why else would I have done it to a Chiwoo head? XD

      So I didn't make a gory doll to act out fantasies of violence, or because I have a twisted desire to mutilate humans or something. I did it becaue I love the character, and because the act of modding is enjoyable to me. Henry is, to me, a work of art XD
      If I had known in the first place that his new mods would so offend people... it wouldn't have stopped me from making them. But I would have probably covered them up more from the start.
    20. At least now the debate can move from the announcement thread to over here instead.

      Where does this come from?

      With the hobby growing and the number of photostories being produced, I think it was inevitable that violence and abuse have become a main part of a lot of stories. In reference to fanfiction for almost every fandom I've been in, it's really part of the trend. A lot of people believe that the feelings of their characters can only come across clearly if it comes across really loudly. This means that rape, abuse, violence have become common plot devices as a way to encourage sympathy and empathy for the characters. Sure, these darker themes can be fitted into a story/background in a well-constructed way. But a lot of the times, I personally feel it doesn't work. Usually, my brain's asking 'Why so much drama happening to one person?'

      However, I do believe that some people do glorify violence. Don't smack me yet but somehow, that's a vibe I pick up from what I read. They're not posting because it's just a plot device, but because violence and abuse seems like a 'cool' thing to them. Edit: Again, I'm not saying everyone who have violence or abuse in their stories are glorifying it.

      Does viewing depictions of violence/sexual abuse against a non-human object have an effect on real people? Is this quantifiable or supported by any sort of existing research, or is this view based purely on opinion?

      I have no supporting research of any kind so I don't feel terribly qualified to answer this one. But I was just thinking the other day... I'm an avid reader and I think I can honestly say that a lot of things I've read have indeed have an effect on me. I'm also a fan of darker themed manga (comics) and I have to say that personally, I won't be running out on a psychotic spree, BUT, I have certainly built up an immunity to many of the darker themes. While initially, I was more easily squicked out by things, I now find myself going back and looking for things that used to make me wince because I don't find them as frightening anymore. So, that's just my personal experience. There's a lovely nugget of info on desensitization that was mentioned before but since I can't provide proof, I'll let someone else bring it up.