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Donna Ferrato's Photos is a New Step for Woman Rights

By: Hannah Yang

Donna Ferrato is a photojournalist known for being a female rights activist and showing domestic violence in her photos. Her photos are bold and defiant, giving people a feeling of rebellion.

Ferrato was born in Waltham, Massachusetts, and grew up in Lorain, Ohio. Her father was a vascular chest surgeon. In 1979, she moved to New York City, where she began taking photos of nightclubs. She also began visiting some famous swingers club after New York Times gave her the assignment.

“For the next decade, Ferrato traveled across the country, photographing domestic violence, riding in police cars, sleeping in shelters, and staying in battered women’s homes. Her work led to the publication of Living With the Enemy (Aperture Foundation, 1991), an exposé of the hidden world of domestic violence. The New York Times previously wrote, “Living with the Enemy is both harrowing and moving. With their shocking immediacy, these photographs offer the kind of urgent call to action provided by all great documentary photographs.”

Ferrato explores the amusements of physical love with a few costs. The pictures she takes about this topic are usually playful. For example, a dance leader in one of Ferrato’s photos wears a fishnet dress that covered her butt protectively, giving the hidden meaning of protecting yourself and your body. One of the most powerful of Ferrato’s photos in Diamond, Minneapolis, MN, is of police officers coming into a house where an 8-year-old boy had reported that his father was beating his mother, so he dialed 911.

At the end of Diamond, Minneapolis, MN, the boy shouted at his father, “I hate you for hitting my mother, don’t come back to this house!” Even though Ferrato included a caption in the photo, it was clear that her photo captured the boy screaming at his father, and the father was taken away from the house. Ferrato’s photos are steps forward for female activists, and her photos share a different perspective from which we can all learn.


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