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May 28, 2014

Visual Media, Misogyny and the UCSB Shooting: The Alpha Phi “Upskirt” Shot

<em>(<strong>photo</strong>: Chris Carlson/AP. <strong>caption</strong>: Patty Ritter, from left, 21, Rachel Keever, 22, and Craig Schaffer, 20, put flowers on a makeshift memorial at the Alpha Phi sorority house, Sunday, May 25, 2014, where two women were killed in Friday night's mass shooting in the Isla Vista area near Goleta, Calif. Sheriff's officials said Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood.)</em>
(photo: Chris Carlson/AP. caption: Patty Ritter, from left, 21, Rachel Keever, 22, and Craig Schaffer, 20, put flowers on a makeshift memorial at the Alpha Phi sorority house, Sunday, May 25, 2014, where two women were killed in Friday night's mass shooting in the Isla Vista area near Goleta, Calif. Sheriff's officials said Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood.)
photo: Chris Carlson/AP
photo: Chris Carlson/AP
photo: Chris Carlson/AP
photo: Chris Carlson/AP
photo: David McNew/Getty Images
photo: David McNew/Getty Images
photo: David McNew/Getty Images
photo: David McNew/Getty Images
photo: David McNew/Getty Images
photo: David McNew/Getty Images
photo: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
photo: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Given how Elliot Roger, the shooter in the Santa Barbara rampage, objectified and had so much hatred for women, I’ve been looking at how the media is depicting women in visualizing the story. One of the scenes that has gotten its share of attention is the makeshift memorial on the front lawn of the Alpha Phi sorority, where several women students were murdered.  As you can see in the slideshow above, the major newswires have been offering publishers a variety of images to illustrate the scene.

What I’m wondering is, what went into AP’s choice to use the photo below in their slideshow of the shooting? (Notice that the first three photos above are also from AP.)

(click for larger size)

Is the view of this young woman bending over simply representative of the style of dress of coeds in Isla Vista? or, the women who belong to the sorority? Or is what we’re looking at here an example of how the objectification of women is so entrenched in our culture and media that it is inescapable, even in the visual reporting of this extraordinarily troubling story?

(9am PST: revised title)

(lead photo: Chris Carlson/AP. caption: A woman puts down a flower on a makeshift memorial at the Alpha Phi sorority house where two women were killed as part of Friday night’s mass shooting Sunday, May 25, 2014 in the Isla Vista area near Goleta, Calif. Sheriff’s officials said Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood.)

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