Monday, June 29, 2009

Farrah Fawcett, Death of an Advocate

Probably best know for an iconic pin-up and her time on Charlie's Angels, Farah Fawcett was well know in the women's community as well as an advocate against domestic violence.

Fawcett starred in "The Burning Bed," a 1984 made-for-TV movie focused on the true story of Francine Hughes and her struggle for survival against an abusive husband. The abuse culminated on March 9, 1977 when Hughes set fire to her husband’s bed while he was sleeping. She took her children, drove to the police station and gave a full confession. At trial, Hughes was found not guilty by reason of insanity. It was the first successful use of "battered woman's syndrome" in a court case.
Farrah’s portrayal in The Burning Bed, brought light to the hidden factors that battered women aren’t only physically abused but emotionally abused as well. It was easy to understand that a woman might kill her husband during an argument, or as self defense during an argument, but the Burning Bed showcased the loss of self-esteem and emotional abuse that victims of domestic violence suffer. For the first time, on screen, it was clearly and accurately portrayed that victims of domestic violence possess scars much deeper than those that are easily hid by cosmetics. The inner scars aren’t easy to hide; they rob a woman of her self-worth and will destroy her if she never escapes.

The Burning Bed also drew light to another topic that wasn’t openly discussed in society: spousal rape. The movie depicts Farrah Fawcett setting her husband on fire after he raped her, a topic that many felt was taboo, or even impossible. Many at the time felt that if you were married, even separated, you could not be raped by your spouse. This misperception was tackled head on in the film.

The role earned her an Emmy nomination. Via
She later became a board member of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Even in her death, Farrah showed her commitment to the cause by donating a portion of her estate to domestic violence work. Rest in peace, Farrah.

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