it's been earned" (emphasis added) (Klawans, 2003, p. 32). In their synopsis of the movie, the producers report that, "Having been gunned down by her former boss (David Carradine) and his deadly squad of international assassins, it's a kill-or-be-killed fight she didn't start but is determined to finish! Loaded with explosive action and outrageous humor, it's a must-see motion picture event that had critics everywhere raving!" (Kill Bill Volume 1 Synopsis, 2005, p. 1). As noted above, critics in fact from just about everywhere have been raving about "Kill Bill, Volume 1" (and 2), but not necessarily in a positive fashion; the possible reasons for these negative assertions about Tarantino's work are discussed further below.
Gender-Based Differences in the Perception of Violence
According to Adler and Denmark (1995), there have been a number of theories advanced over the years concerning violent behavior based on various psychodynamic, social learning, cognitive, and family system perspectives. These authors note that past studies espousing such positions, however, have given relatively meager consideration to a motivational analysis of violent behavior. At the same time, the disturbing increase in the report of all manner of violent behaviors makes the issue of psychological causality and the determinants of violence all the more urgent. In this setting, behavioral and social scientists are in an excellent position to help bring some insights into the processes underlying violence in the media and how it plays out in the real world, and a motivational analysis of violent conduct will serve an important role in predicting the dangerousness of a potentially violent individuals in the future, a requirement that is being faced with increasing regularity by most mental health professionals today (Adler & Denmark, 1995).
Furthermore, while the incidence and extent of violence against women is increasing, the pervasiveness and impact of such violence has been better described in the literature than understood to date. "For example," Adler and Denmark report, "in the United States, women are more likely to be assaulted, killed, or raped by a current or former male partner than by all other categories of assailants combined. Women are most likely to be sexually assaulted by people they know and often love and trust" (p. 126). In addition, almost 50% of the aggravated assault and completed rapes that were identified in a recent criminal victimization survey were found to have been perpetrated by men with whom the victims had been romantically involved (Adler & Denmark, 1995). These figures represent an enormous number of real women in real-world settings: in 1990, for instance, 102,555 rapes of women were reported to law enforcement authorities, and a woman reports a rape to the police every five to six minutes. These authors point out that a recent national study in the United States estimated that 14% of women have been forcibly raped (Adler & Denmark, 1995). Unfortunately, violence against women does not stop after marriage, and in many cases is further exacerbated. According to Adler and Denmark, an estimated one in four wives is physically battered; it has also been estimated that some form of violence will occur at least once in more than 50% of all marriages, with 3 to 4 million American women being battered each year by their partners in the process. Furthermore, Adler and Denmark note that the incidence of physical abuse among dating college students on some university campuses in the United States has been determined to match the rate for married couples. Finally, the levels of severe intimate violence in cohabiting or dating partners in the United States also appear to be on the rise (Adler & Denmark, 1995). While the incidence of male-to-female violence continues to increase across the board, some observers suggest that women in the United States are placed at a distinct social disadvantage and experience higher risks for becoming victims of such violent acts in the first place.
According to Caplan, Crawford, Hyde and Richardson (1997), feminist theories of personality development emphasize that so-called "feminine" characteristics such as passivity, excessive concern with pleasing others, lack of initiative, and dependency are psychological consequences of that subordination. These authors note that, "Those members of subordinate social groups who adopt such characteristics are considered to be well-adjusted, even though the same characteristics would not be considered healthy in the case of adult men. Those who do not adopt such characteristics are controlled by psychiatric diagnosis, violence (or the threat of violence), and social ostracism" (p. 94). To date, much of the research on women and gender has concerned documenting the effects of internalized subordination; as the result of such laboratory and field research, as well as empirical observations and clinical experience, Caplan et al. report that, compared with boys and men, girls and women:
Lack a sense of personal entitlement;
Pay themselves less for comparable work;
Are equally satisfied with their employment even though they are paid significantly less than men;
Lose self-esteem and confidence in their academic ability as they progress through the educational system; and Are more likely to suffer from disturbances of body image, eating disorders, and depression (Caplan et al., 1997, p. 94).
In sum, these authors suggest that gender differences are the result of a "self-fulfilling prophecy": "Women are different from men," they point out, "yet paradoxically this is not because they are women. Each person behaves in gendered ways because they are placed in gendered social contexts" (Caplan et al., 1997, p. 94). While scientists point out that there are clear physiological differences between men and women that contribute to their biologic roles in rearing children, for example, these biological functions do not necessarily relate to how genders are created in a social context. For example, Caplan et al. note that, "Women encounter different social contexts from those that men encounter. Women and men face different expectations and norms, even in what appear to be identical social situations. Therefore, if they try not to 'do gender,' they will encounter the social consequences of violating these norms and expectations" (Caplan et al., 1997, p. 94). These gender-related components of social life and expectations can therefore be reasonably expected to play an important role in how an individual perceives the portrayal of violence in the mainstream media, and how these components affect the incidence of male-on-female violence in the real world.
As noted above, the aims of this study are three-fold:
1. To determine the extent to which male and female observers differ in their perceptions of violence content in this movie;
2. To identify those factors that contribute to any difference in the perception of violence by males and females; and, 3. To develop a better understanding of how these factors may contribute to the incidence of violence against women in the general population.
To achieve these three aims, the following objectives will guide the study process:
1. To conduct an online survey of at least 100 male and female respondents (50 each) according to the methodology described further below;
2. To analyze the statistical data provided by the survey to develop insights into how males and females differ in their perception of violence; and 3. To present the findings of the survey and a critical review of the scholarly and peer-reviewed literature to achieve the aims of the study.
Beyond the demographic information collected as described below, the online survey will be comprised of the following five-part Likert-scaled questions, ranged from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree:
1. There is too much violence in "Kill Bill."
2. Overall, I enjoyed "Kill Bill" a lot.
3. "Kill Bill" would have been better without all of the violence.
4. "Kill Bill" would have been better with more violence.
5. Generally speaking, there is too much violence in the mainstream media today.
6. I enjoy seeing females beat males at the martial arts.
7. I don't blame "The Bride" (Uma Thurman) for wanting revenge.
8. "The Bride" was justified in her every act in trying to "Kill Bill."
9. I will watch "Kill Bill Volume 2."
10. Watching "Kill Bill Volume 1" did not affect my general perception of violence between men and women.
11. Generally, I did not enjoy "Kill Bill" at all.
12. I would rather see males portraying violent characters than females.
Based on a critical review of the scholarly and peer-reviewed literature, this study will employ an online survey to gather additional information to achieve the above-stated objectives. In his guide, "Questionnaire Design and Surveys Sampling," Hossein Arsham advises that when the sampling units in a study are human beings, the main methods of collecting information are:
face-to-face interviewing mail surveys telephone surveys direct observation
Internet natural way to obtain answers to questions is to assure that surveys are anonymous, and to find a way to make the respondent at least minimally comfortable in the process. According to U.S. General Accounting Office book, "Developing and Using Questionnaires" (October 1993),…