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The Magdalene Sisters

Updated on February 2, 2013

Gender Violence

The Magdalene Sisters

The Magdalene sisters, was an excellent movie in gender violence. Not only did I find many aspects of gender violence, but I was also able to find ways in which the movie managed to display acts of gender violence even though it did not stick to the textbook definition. The first main girl was Margret. She was sent to the Magdalene asylum because her accusation about her cousin touching her was distrusted. The opening scene was Margret’s cousin forcing to kiss her, then she told him how wrong it was and he stormed out, only to return even more angered and more dedicated to force himself on her. He forced her to the ground and covered her mouth while he fondled her. It is not clear whether or not he raped her; however she came out the room very shaken up. When Margret told another woman at the wedding about the incident word began to spread among the men of what had happened. The next scene opens with Margret being shipped off to the asylum. I use the term asylum loosely because that would imply a safe haven or shelter which it clearly was not. The second girl was Bernadette. Her story was especially disheartening because she was not a true sinner, criminal, or a whore who lived a life of ill repute. Her experience there led her to commit desperate acts like exposing her self to the laundry driver. Bernadette’s experience was possibly the reason she ended up living alone after 3 divorces. The third and final girl is Rose, whose parents send her away because she had a child out of wed-lock. Luckily, after she got out the asylum she was able to meet her son that she gave away thirty years ago, and then had two other children before she died.

Gender violence in The Magdalene Sisters movie was not only individually done but there were acts committed against then entire group. The most blatant form of gender violence was when the Nuns made the girls exercise naked. The Nuns then went on to judge them based on their physical assets. This was gender violence because it was humiliating. By breaking their pride, spirit and self confidence then Nuns were able to gain more power over the girls. The Nuns even showed signs of enjoying this torment by laughing, smiling and mocking their bodies. One girl, Carispina even started to cry. I wanted to discuss her because she showed us the true horrors of the asylum. She slowly tried to kill her self by sleeping in wet pajamas, as well as trying to hanging her self. Eventually she managed to succeed by making her self anorexic. Even with a son on the outside she lost all hope and complete zest for life. The acts committed against her broke her spirits entirely to the point where she could not stand to live. The more individual aspects of gender violence against the girls could be displayed when the one girl who tried to run away was brought back and her head was shaved. A reminder that I can do this to you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. There were other signs of their broken spirits and almost zombie like personalities. When the girls found out that Bernadette stole Carispina’s necklace, none of them even cared, not even Bernadette.

The Magdalene Sisters was not male dominated. I also thought it would be important to mention that this movie showed gender violence carried out by women. I thought this was interesting because it was not traditionally fitting the initial definition of gender violence, which is violent acts against females by males, with the intent of male superiority. The treatment of the women in the asylum by the Nuns was also not Male dominance for female subordination. As stated by the head Nun, men are inborn with sin and temptation. Which to me almost excused them, saying men cannot control their actions and women should know better, so those who do not act accordingly must be punished, thus the need for the asylums. The forced humiliation, beatings with belts and sticks, and wearing down of the girls sprits has truly exemplified gender violence. It was only done to women, and only women were sent to those asylums.


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