And Chris Brown Performs, And So It Goes.
I’ve been reading a lot the past few days about the Grammys and, naturally, the return of Chris Brown. If there was ever an opportunity for people to get up in arms about something going on in the mainstream media, if there was ever a time to make a stink and get in on that awesome circle jerk of “you tell ‘em hun,” this would be it.
And while I do agree that assault is terrible, domestic violence is ugly, and people who commit crimes should be punished, I can’t help but be a bit confused about the stance that seems to be taken by the feminist blogosphere on the issue. Generally, everyone seems to agree with the following:
- People should be punished fairly for crimes, and should learn, grow, and change as a result of serving their time and carrying out their obligations to the State and to society. People should ultimately be able to redeem themselves and return to a productive, active life.
- Domestic abuse is never okay, and should be treated seriously by the justice system and by society.
I agree with these things; they make perfect sense. And I am also of the old-fashioned belief that hitting a woman is not okay. I believe it is because men are usually physically stronger than women, women and men are inherently different, and it is up to men to show a highly evolved sense of respect and restraint towards women to promote safety, comfort, and the sense of a level playing field. In a word, chivalry.
But this is not the opinion—or at least, ostensibly isn’t the opinion—of modern feminists, often the people crying out hardest against Brown. No, to them, women are equal to men and there are no inherent gender differences. We should be treated exactly the same, and a crime committed against a woman should be equal to a crime committed against a man.
Yet, strangely enough, all of the famous people—including former Grammy performers—who were convicted/indicted/accused on assault charges that were not in the Man against Woman dynamic (Eminem, Russell Crowe, Naomi Campbell, Dr. Dre, Kelly Bensimon, the list goes on endlessly) are not being singled out to be held accountable for the things they did. No, we as a society are able to crack a few jokes about the issues and move on. That’s okay.
And even though we know that domestic abuse victimizes men nearly as frequently as women, and that they are most often the ones afraid to speak out about it, violence towards men is just more acceptable. It just is. Though they are overwhelmingly the victims of violent assault, battery, and murder in society, their individual stories of victimization are not as important.
Ironically, though, I understand it. It’s ingrained socially to preserve a woman’s safety and dignity, rooted in the belief that they are inherently, physically, less capable of defending themselves. They need society to reinforce and protect them. Now, I admit this and accept it because I understand the sexes are different. I understand that there is a different stigma attached to hitting a woman, and it makes sense to have it. I don’t put my beliefs on this issue under some bullshit, dishonest banner of believing that women and men are one hundred percent equal and should be treated as such in every single circumstance, except when it doesn’t suit me.
And I certainly wouldn’t try to paint our continuing outrage over Brown’s assault as somehow “not doing enough” in the fight against abuse against women, when the hordes of men in Hollywood who have assaulted other men in an array of contexts—including in intimate relationships—were not batted an eyelash toward. When women who fight with other women are easily brushed off as “cat fights,” set to music, and put on YouTube, or women who hit men on popular MTV shows are laughed at and made into GIFs on Tumblr, clearly there is only one dynamic that really incites our ire.
A man hitting a woman (especially when in a relationship) has a very special, very severe stigma. It has because it should. If Chris Brown had hit a man, this never would have been an issue. But don’t pretend that it’s somehow revolutionary to demand that we hold men even more accountable—even when they are carrying out their court-appointed punishment and have not repeated the action—when we turn a blind eye to the myriad other kinds of violence we accept every day. You either need to demand that kind of continuing blacklisting of every case of assault that occurs with every possible performer in every award show, or you need to rethink your position of “infallible equality.” There are exceptions, this is an exception, and you all know it.
Be something, be anything, but don’t be a hypocrite.