The most talked about item on the web today is the buzz feed entry “25 Extremely Upsetting Reactions To Chris Brown At The Grammys” in which a group of women appear, in all seriousness, to be defending Chris Brown by saying that he is so sexy that they would die to have him beat them up.
The top comment responding to this post with a whopping 5k FB likes is:
“Fathers, you have failed your daughters.”
I love how full to fucking brimming these comments are with people making sweeping comments about how “stupid” women are, etc. Because that’s completely where the focus needs to be in conversations about domestic abuse: on women’s stupidity rather than on the abusive behaviour perpetrated and sanctioned by men. You know what the problem with the valorisation of Chris Brown is? The problem is that nobody, including and especially other men, is stopping men from abusing women. Like. Yes. These status updates are a mess and it’s fucked up and not okay when women glamorise or tacitly endorse abuse but let’s be real here: these women are not posting in a vacuum and they didn’t create this idea; they’re posting in the context of a culture where domestic abuse is routinely forgiven and washed away, where music execs and producers and awards shows and etc. will put you on a stage and give you a Grammy three years after you put your girlfriend in the hospital — they’re posting in the context of a culture which tells them implicitly and explicitly to think like this. And somehow they’re the ones being critiqued — not the power structures which keep Chris Brown and Michael Fassbender and a metric fuckton of other abusers in business. These comments are a god damn mess. A mess.
Okay let’s try to get a couple things straight here.
There’s nothing funny or right or sexy about that. It’s something that happens all too often in our country, domestic abuse. It’s not alway men beating up women, so let’s not go there. But we can all say that any person beating up a lover, child, or friend is committing a heinous act of violence and we should all do anything in our power to stop it.
The idea that these women would tweet about how they want to be beaten by some rapper with a history of violence is truly sad, whether they did it as a joke or in all seriousness. It shows a lack of understanding at how deplorable the action Chris Brown committed.
But to lay the whole thing–the fact that Rihanna was beaten in the first place or that these women would think that it’s cool to talk about wanting to be beaten now–at the feet of men and fathers at-large is a mistake. Domestic abuse is a human issue. It’s not a gender issue. We all participate in the pattern of violence, no matter what our gender. And we all have to say enough is enough.
To lock ourselves into a frame of reference where men can only be perpetrators and women can only be victims side tracks us from focussing on the real issue: stopping domestic violence.