We've been upset recently by the callous attitude we've seen people adopt toward violence against women. Domestic violence is a serious issue that shouldn't be taken lightly. It's scary to see the dismissive way it's often addressed.
"Chris Brown Can Beat Me"
At the Grammy Awards last Sunday night, Chris Brown, who physically assaulted his girlfriend Rihanna just before the 2009 Grammy Awards, performed twice and won an award for best R&B album. Some people criticized the Grammys for hosting Brown on stage and many celebrities and musicians voiced their dissatisfaction.
However you feel about the preferential legal treatment that celebrities often receive, however you feel about giving public figures second chances, domestic violence is incredibly serious. The mixed reaction to the Grammys' seeming embrace of Brown is understandable given that it's only been three years and there is still a restraining order against him to keep him from coming within 10 yards of Rihanna. How can you perform at the same event as the person you have a restraining order against, and have it feel like a safe space?
What's more surprising are the reactions that his Grammy appearance received on Twitter. Here's a sampling of the Tweets:
"I don't know why Rihanna complained. Chris Brown could beat me anytime he wanted to."
"Dude, Chris brown can punch me in the face as much as wants to, just as long as he kisses it (:"
"Not gonna lie.. I think I'd let Chris Brown beat me #sosexy #lovehim #awkwardtweet #dontevencare"
"Everyone shut up about Chris brown being a woman beater... Shiiiit he can beat me up all night if he wants."
We draw a few conclusions from these Tweets:
- 1) People don't really understand domestic violence, or they wouldn't be saying these things. What is domestic violence, you ask? Check out The Hotline's description.
2) People think domestic violence is sexy.
3) People don't comprehend that by talking about Chris Brown beating them, but only if he kisses it afterward, they are only perpetuating the Cycle of Violence.
4) People don't realize how much of what they say can trigger someone. It generally isn't public information when someone is a victim/survivor of domestic violence, and since a woman in the U.S. is assaulted or beaten every 9 seconds, it's likely someone you know has experienced violence.
5) People must confuse the definition of "complain" with lifesaving. Rihanna wasn't complaining, she was saving her life and being tremendously brave by doing so.
We are absolutely outraged by these ignorant reactions. Domestic violence is not a joke, and no one should ever have to experience that pain or trauma. Does there need to be a more widespread domestic violence awareness and education? What do you think about these reactions? What should be done?
While you contemplate this, we hope that you'll sign the Change.org petition demanding that the Grammy's apologize to Domestic Viollence Victims. The petition reveals that "almost 50% of Boston teenagers believed Rihanna was to blame for her beating." This sickening statistic exemplifies the victim blaming that is so prevalent in our society. You can check out what's happening on Tumblr around people rallying to stop victim blaming.
Which brings us to our next, similar concern:
Veganism is no Excuse for Violence
Over the years PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has definitely earned it's reputation for provocative campaigns (See meat eating comparisons to the Holocaust, references to the American Kennel Club as a branch of the Ku Klux Klan, George Clooney flavored tofu, or any other number of outlandish campaigns).
Despite the fact that it's cliche at this point to get ruffled over anything PETA does, we're disturbed by the tacit approval of sexual violence that PETA gives in a new campaign. BWVAKTBOOM, or "Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom out of Me," is a campaign that plays on the sexual health benefits of a vegan diet by warning visitors about the risk of injuries and "erotic consequences" that can result from "your boyfriend" adopting a vegan diet.
All over the world, regular guys are choosing a vegan diet, unaware of the erotic consequences. As a result, an epidemic is spreading among their 'loved' ones: BWVAKTBOOM, 'Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom out of Me.'
For years, women have been open to the physical, emotional, and karmic benefits of veganism. But now, more and more men are discovering the perks of a plant-based diet. More specifically, a dramatic increase in their wang power and sexual stamina.
Unfortunately, the consequences of all this mind-blowing intercourse can often lead to sex injuries such as whiplash, pulled muscles, rug burn, and even a dislocated hip.
The messages and assumptions in this kind of humor make us really uncomfortable. Where to start?
- Be careful encouraging your man to become vegan, because veganism can make your sex life violent. It's only a neckbrace, no big deal.
- A violent sex life is great! (*wink wink)
- The video implies without context that Jessica has been involved in some sort of violent act in the beginning of the video: she is walking home in her underwear with a jacket, and is wearing a neckbrace. Who goes to the store for celery in their underwear? Is it necessary to sexualize someone who is in pain, presumably from abuse initially?
- Her boyfriend asks if she's feeling better--if she was feeling so bad, why did he stay home in his underwear while she went to the store in pain with a neckbrace? Of course PETA decides to go back to the sexist gender-binary, with women in charge of the groceries no matter the pain they're in; come on- the job has to be done...right?
- Being sore from great sex is one thing, going blind? Quite another.
- All women love rough sex, so it's ok to be violent. In fact, she'll thank you for it!
- Learning to go vegan safely is more important than learning to have potentially rough sex safely.
- You should be pleased by the surprise-BDSM that you've never had a conversation about before.
- It's implied that these "broken" women are vegan, as well, and yet they are weak and unable to have the same high stamina, energy, and strength as their man.
- We assume your sex life is heterosexual (except for the one video with the gay men, but lesbians don't exist...this is about your partner's "newfound stamina, desire, and penile strength").
Maybe this will backfire with women more than PETA's other campaigns have, but unfortunately we're not holding our breath. There does not seem to be a great amount of backlash against PETA's overtly sexist, objectifying, anti-woman campaigns of the past, sadly enough.
Which leads us to inevitably conclude that this is seriously:
A Cultural Problem
This is really a culture issue. Many people just don't understand or acknowledge that Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault are real problems that need to be taken seriously. Instead, they're talked about as sexy, nothing to whine about, easily forgiven, and fodder for jokes. Jokes about domestic violence, sexual assault, and rape are not funny; simply enough, they aren't jokes.
What You Can Do
- In the short term, sign the Change.org petition demanding that the Grammy's apologize to Domestic Viollence Victims and Survivors.
- Check out what one blogger has to say about why rape jokes are not something to joke about.
- Call people, campaigns, and orgs out. Speak up! When something inappropriate is said about Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, etc., let them know that it is not okay. You don't have to attack people when they may just not be educated, but educate them. People are generally open to listening when approached correctly.
- Participate in Feminist Majority's RAPE is RAPE: No More Excuses campaign.
- Write letters to PETA - create counter-videos, tweet them: @PETA, or write on their Facebook wall. A potential Tweet: "Implied domestic violence or sexual assault is not okay, @PETA. #DVisNoJoke."
- Since February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, take this time to create a particular awareness this month that overflows into the rest of the year. SafePlace is right on when the say, "Love has many definitions, but abuse isn't one of them."