Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What Celebrites Can Teach Us

I'm about to step in it.

Since the majority of the folks who read this blog are women, and typically of a liberal bent, I'm pretty sure that this post is not going to go over well. But, I just finished having a rousing debate with one of my homegirls and I want to discuss this issue. To be clear, I do not support domestic violence and I understand to some degree how many women have their lives turned into living hells because of it. Please check out the post with that in mind.

What the eff is up with C-Breezy and Ri Ri?

That's Chris Brown and Rihanna for those of you who don't get your celebrity news from Bossip. Anybody remotely connected to pop culture knows that one of the hottest young couples in America has split in dramatic fashion amid reports that Chris Brown went upside his girlfriend's head the night of the Grammy's. He got arrested, she's in hiding and rumors are flying about what the hell happened.

So, me and my homegirl got to talking.

It started innocently enough with an instant message from me that said "So, is Chris Brown just an abusive boyfriend?"

What I meant was, given the various rumors flying around, was this incident a sign that Brown thinks putting his hands on women is normal, or was this a momentary lapse of control sparked by extraordinary circumstances. See, if Chris Brown was the second coming of Ike Turner, well I had no sympathy for his high-yellow ass. But, if he was somehow put under incredible stress before cracking, then I might understand things a little more.

Of course, my homegirl didn't see it that way.

Her response was complex in its simplicity. She said "Well he did abuse her, so yes, I say he's an abusive boyfriend." Before I go any further let me give y'all some background. My homegirl is the type of chick that might bump "Survivor" and "Independent Women" on her alarm clock if she didn't think Beyonce was a horrible songwriter. She is uber-liberal, with a smidgen of black nationalism thrown in, although she keeps up with every new show the Disney channel releases. What I'm trying to say is she's the type of woman who has no patience or sympathy for men who don't understand that their fists do not belong on a woman.

Her response tripped me up though. See, as a man, I think there is a stark difference between a boyfriend who has hit you and a boyfriend who is abusive. For example, say your boyfriend comes home from work and finds you doing the horizontal mamba with another man in the bed he bought for y'all at Rooms To Go. In a fit of anger, he lashes out and slaps you.

He's never hit you before, but is he now an abusive boyfriend? To me, that's a gray area. One part of me understands that a man should never hit a woman unless he's attacked. Another part of me is appalled at the amount of disrespect inherent in a woman copulating with another man on the sheets that she shares with you at night. So, while my intelligent mind says, "Just walk away," another part of me says "Beat that ass!"

My homegirl thinks the part of me that says "Beat that ass!" is a damn fool.

She says that the only time violence should be an option in a relationship is in response to violence that is a legitimate threat. So, not only does she believe that it's unacceptable to smack your girlfriend after she reveals that she knowingly infected you with herpes, it's also unacceptable to respond to a physical attack by your girlfriend if you know that she's unlikely to really hurt you. As men, she says that we know that most women can't really hurt us in a fight, so we should just walk after taking their licks.

Obviously, that didn't sit too well with me.

But, instead of rehashing the entire argument, I'd like to return to an earlier point. When my friend gave me her definition of an abusive boyfriend, it grated on my mind. I haven't hit a girl since I was child, and my pops beat my ass for that one time lapse. But, as a man, I still understand how damaging it is to be labeled "abusive." It seems grossly unfair to earn that title for a one-time response to extreme provocation. What my friend seemed to be saying was that no matter what a woman does, there really is no reason for you to hit her.

Logically I understand this, and I plan to teach my sons the same thing. But, emotionally, it doesn't sit right with my view of the world. As a man, I learned early on that certain words and actions result in fights and if I didn't want to fight, I'd better be circumspect. As men, particularly as black men, there are unspoken rules to how you have to behave in public and private, and when those rules are broken, violence is often the response.

I wonder if this is just a fundamental difference between men and women. Amongst ourselves, men are trained to establish pecking order and hierarchies and one of the most common ways of doing this is by determining who can whip whose ass. I remember in college I slapboxed with nearly all of my friends to determine which ones I could handle in a real fight and which ones would be a threat. I never planned to fight them, but that knowledge was important to determining where I stood.

I know women have their own ways to establish dominance, but typically that does not involve violence. I wonder if that's one of the main reasons why men and women clash so often in relationships. Men may view certain actions by their mates as a threat to their dominance and respond in the same way they have responded for years. However, because women typically do not handle these types of dominance battles with violence, they are woefully unprepared when men take this route. Combine that with the physical strength differences between the two genders, and well things seem a little clearer.

I'm not trying to justify domestic abuse. There is no justification for that. But, sometimes violence within a relationship is not as clear cut as it seems and I wanted to explore those gray areas and try to determine what one of the causes might be.

Blame it on C-Breezy and Ri Ri.



Stankoniforous 0ne said...

my gf and I talked about this and she advocates a man @ss whippin when the woman raises up in a threatening way. I was thoroughly shocked. She said if you wanna raise up, then that may be the price of admission.

My advice to women, I don't care how upset you get, THINK very careful of the consequences and repercussions.

Anonymous said...

"Ain't nuthin' more likely to embarrass you than a woman who KNOWS y'aint gonna hit her."
-- Chris Rock

I'm afraid of women's power when it comes to this. Think about it... if they get mad at you, they can call the cops and _say_ you hit them, with no signs of said hits, and you get hauled off to jail. Hell, if she beats your ass up and the cops come, they'll arrest _you_! Any sign of an altercation and it's the man's fault. And if you hit back, well damn, you're done heh. Might as well lube up.

Go ahead, make comments designed to imasculate me cuz I'm afraid of this power. Bitchez want it both ways. Ho's.

Anonymous said...

Big man,

1.Chris didn't just "hit" Rihanna according to the reports. He beat her ass, broke her eye socket and he even bit her. That's straight nuts. That's not "snapping", that's a spychotic break that would happen again.

2. You brought up the cheating wife senario so let me ask you this: If your wife cheats on you once, is she a cheater? Or did she just "crack under incredible stress" because of something you did and therefore has the right to one slip up?

3. All "abusive" boyfriends start off with one hit. There is a reason why people say "if a man hits you once, leave". Because he will hit you again. They alwasy do.

4."Ain't nuthin' more likely to embarrass you than a woman who KNOWS y'aint gonna hit her."
-- Chris Rock

The reverse to this is if a man hits you once and you forgive him, he knows he can hit you again. Then you are in an "abusive" relationship.

5. The only men who hit a woman once are the men who get left after they get violent the first time. All of the rest keep hitting until they get locked up or shot. Get your a fire ladies. I got mine.

6. Domestic Violence is a crime and once a crime is commited, no more gray.

7.What men seem to forget, when tryint to make excuses for other men, is that patriatchy affects everything and there are few institutions that aren’t infected, if not run by it. The truth is just about any man could do just about anything to just about any woman and get away with it. Rich or poor, black or white. Men treat women like shit all over the world and women almost always take the fall for it. Sexism and misogyny are the oldest forms of discrimination and hatred in the world. Whenever a man hits a woman, it's because he believes he has a right to. Any discussion of gray areas doesn't matter. Trying to figure our if it's justifiable in some instances doesn't matter, becaue through out most of history and still in most of the world, it's always been "justifiable".

Anonymous said...


Just for the record I don't condone domestic violence under any circumstances. I once had a girlfriend bend my fingers back almost breaking them when we were quarreling. I was gonna leave but then she turned on the tears and stuff, like she was the victim. I'd never ever hit a woman.

Stupid backward ass Muslim countries where they stone and imprison rape victims are a disgrace. Makes me sick.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

I agree with you 100% about those grey areas in relationships. Catching a partner in the act of infidelity or learning they gave you an STD, or gave drugs to one of your teenagers or molested your child or caused you to get fired are just a few that come to mind.

About Chris and Rihanna. I feel sorry for both of them. Neither want to talk about it. As of this moment, the DA has not filed charges against Chris Brown so either she's clammed up or there's a lot more to the case than meets the eye and the cops are proceeding slowly.

For both their sake and that of the young black public, I swear I hope it's not the case of him kirking out on her for some silly-assed reason not covered above.

I've always thought highly of both of them a great deal, and know that if I was in my teens or early 20s I'd see them as positive role models in the music world. An equivalent couple (now that I'm older) would be learning that Barack beat Michelle or vice versa. People need role models as an anchor to remind them that not everyone in society is crazed and out of control. This is why I hope it's not true.

MCBias said...

Ok, so we've established that a man can't beat and physically abuse a woman. It's just not fair; he has an inherent physical advantage, and the poor woman is often nearly defenseless against his attacks. Right?

So on the other hand, can a woman manipulate and emotionally abuse a man? It's just not fair; she has an inherent advantage in communication and managing emotions, and the poor man is often nearly defenseless against her attacks. Right? ;-) Think that one over.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

I was just reading the political stories at HuffPo when this Chris-Rihanna story caught my eye. Sad to say, it's not a grey area.

The couple were arguing while the car was parked and she threw his keys out the window. He then allegedly started to strangle her and she allegedly lost consciousness. A neighbor heard the screams and called 911. The contusions on her face were severe, but the tip off to his really going bezerk was bite marks on her fingers and one arm.

I can only speculate that he was drunk and on drugs, or in need of psychotropic medication for his rage.

If she goes back to him, she's as sick as he is.

Anonymous said...

Any power that an alleged victim has to manipulate circumstances and perceptions is there precisely because of the inherent imbalance to the system in the first place. It's a bogeyman game and I ain't playing.

It sets off my bullshit radar, much like when people cry "reverse racism", whatever the hell that is.

All it does is serve to reinforce my determination to counsel my son to get AWAY when a girl acts like a manipulative crazyhead and for my daughter to take Krav Maga as soon as she turns 14.

Anonymous said...

I don't stay up on pop culture but I did hear this story, at this point I have heard a couple different versions and don't feel I can speak on the matter.

However as far as what you said, I do think there are grey areas man or woman is a rock and we are prone to emotions.

I think there is a wide gulf between beating the ish out your ole lady because she made meatloaf when you wanted steak versus coming home and finding her sexing up another man in your bed.

Look, I am a woman but as a human I would say that finding out your partner broke trust in such a dramatic fashion might in fact earn you a beatdown. Is it right? No. On the other hand unless the man in such a situation had a history of laying hands on a woman, I would be hesitant to call him an abuser.

I will also say as a woman who used to play verbal and emotional sparring games with men, that sometimes as women we can take it too far. It takes a strong man who was raised right to walk alway. Sadly there are not enough of these men around.

I don't condone violence at I tell my 3 yo, hands are not for hitting, pretty basic stuff. On the other hand as adults lets not act like there are not women who will lay enough games that she is almost baiting her man to hit her. Shoot, some women were raised with such dysfunction that they think a man don't love em unless he is laying hands on em.

Big Man said...

Thank all of you for the great comments. I'll try to respond some of them.

First, the information that has come out from Chris Brown's people and Rihanna's people paints two totally different pictures of what happened that night. That's unfortunate because people will now decided to believe whatever version suits them, and then refuse to discuss the issue.

Texascowgirl and KIT

Thank you for a very strong comments. Cowgirl, I can't argue with your logic that the only way you'll find out if a man is abusive is to give him multiple chances to abuse you. That's a very good point and I can honestly say that if I had a daughter I wouldn't counsel her to stick around and find out. Very strong argument. KIT, I think you made a great point about role models, no matter how superficial they are. The fallout from this will be interesting. The discussion in the black community right now reminds me of the discussion that occurred when news of Michael Jordan's divorce and the proposed settlement first surfaced.

Darth and MCBias

I think you both asked good questions. I might not have asked them, but I'm glad you put those ideas out there.

Lolo, BGM and Stank

Thanks for trying to find the middle ground in this issue, which was the point of my post. Abuse is an explosive topic and I'll admit that as a man I don't truly comprehend how serious an issue it is. I understand that it's prevalent and that it wreaks havoc on people's lives, but I think that my maleness allows me to live without certain worries or concerns.

Anyway, the point of the post was the raise the issue of how do we classify somebody as abusive and when, if ever, is violence an understandable response between men and women.

Mr. Noface said...

I think Chris Brown's situation should be a warning to other men (famous or no) in relationships. It's never ever ok to put your hands on a woman in America. No matter how justified you may (or may not) be, because 9 times out of 10 you lose in a plethora of ways.

For example, one of the big rumors going around is that Rhianna gave Brown herpes and that is why he went upside her head. Now I'm not saying that it’s true or that there is any kind of evidence that gives it some semblance of credibility (you know how rumors are, especially with the internet). Let's say for the sake of argument that it is true, though. That would most certainly be an extreme pressure situation that would drive an otherwise calm and rational individual to the breaking point causing him to snap. For, it suggests two things: 1) Rhianna was unfaithful and 2) She gave Chris a STD that she got from another man (or woman) with whom she had an affair. I don't know about anyone else but that would tempt me to lose my head and do something violent. Here's the thing though, if Chris beat on Rhianna for that reason (not saying it is the reason, just speaking hypothetically here) he's still wrong and he still loses. When talking about winning and losing, there are no gray areas, there are no ties.

Its proven time and again that violence only make bad situations worse. So Chris smacks Rhianna around because he snaps, what is the result. A 911 call. An arrest. A cancelled performance at the Grammies. A $50,000 bond to post bail. Immediate and wide range negative press. Loss of endorsement deals. Possible loss of girlfriend. Possible loss of fans. Possible loss of future business interests. Possible prison time (highly unlikely given Brown’s status but still possible). And at the end of the day, he still has herpes (again we don’t know if the rumor is even remotely true). That’s a losing situation if I’ve ever saw one.

For those echoing Chris Rock’s joke, "Ain't nuthin' more likely to embarrass you than a woman who KNOWS y'aint gonna hit her.” my question is “Why be with a woman that does not respect the fact that you respect women (enough not to hit them)? I’ve been in relationships where the woman would act totally out of turn and would constantly try to provoke me to go upside her head. Those relationships were quickly terminated, because there is really only one outcome in a relationship like that. I’m not the man who can give those women what they want (a black eye) and I’m cool with that.

Big Man said...

Mr. Noface

That was real talk right there. I agree with pretty much everything you wrote, and I too have avoided women who seem to delight in trying to challenge my manhood.

Anonymous said...

It's my personal feeling that I should never (nor should my son ever) hit a woman unless, seriously, she's coming up on you hardcore. I mean, nails are clawing, a knife is involved, something like that.

Then again, if the woman is doing that shit, why the fuck are you with her?

But back to my point: While I don't advocate hitting a woman, I think the notion that if a man hits once, he will invariably hit again is erroneous.

Seems to me that you won't get very far into a relationship without the abusive nature showing up, even before fists fly. It doesn't really come out of nowhere. If you're paying attention, chances are your man gave you multiple clues he was controlling and potentially violent even while he was sweet-talking you into a relationship.

While I wouldn't want any woman to stay in an abusive relationship, what if we have a marriage of, say, 10 years, and something happens, and the dude's hand flies. This automatically means he will hit again? After 10 years of never laying a hand and not emotional abusing you and all that, if there was an incident that caused a flare-up...he's an abuser for a first offense?

That doesn't sit well with me. We can all do crazy things that are out of character. I once stole a laptop from an employer, many years ago. I'm not proud of it; I couldn't never imagine doing it again. But I did it. Does that make me a career criminal?

So much of this is context.

I think that probably, in most cases of hitting a woman, there is probably some level of potential abuse and control going on. But I think that blanket statements that brand a person for life are an area we should hesitate to enter.

Anonymous said...

Big Man since you seem to be saying that it is at least understandable for a man to beat up a woman if he caught her with another man, let me lay this on you. My mother used to work with a woman who according to her was a really really nice kind gentle person. She came home and caught her husband in bed with another woman and she shot him. She went to prison, which was correct. I believe she got a slightly lighter sentence than the typical murderer because it was unpremeditated and a crime of passion. Though what she did was understandable it was not ok and to me at least, beating up your girlfriend/wife, under the same circumstances is wrong too. Less wrong than murder, but still wrong.
Although no one ever knows what they would do if they are pushed to the wall, I would hope that I and most rationale people would be able to walk away from that situation and leave the person and not sucumb to anger so much that you hurt the other person disproporionately to your hurt.

Bernadette Merikle said...

Totally stayed away from posting about this. But commenting...that should be fair game eh?

Lots of interesting points and counterpoints. As a woman, I was raised to believe that women are equal to men and we're only as unequal as we allow ourselves to be. Caveat should be that I grew up in Texas where girls were on the football team and on the wrestling squad. And I grew up military in a time when girls were finally getting into the academies. So the argument that girl = always weaker than man didn't jive with my reality. So being the logic driven smartass of a kid I was, when I heard my brother being told never to hit a woman, even out of self-defense, I cried foul.

And yes, there are all sorts of forms of violence. People tend to only get up in arms over the type of violence that often heals rather quickly. What about the abuse that takes years to heal?

As for role models? Modeling that everyone isn't crazy and out of control. I think what we're REALLY looking for there are superhumans. Because really, it IS normal to interact. To be passionate. Or more err is to be human. If you never make a mistake, you ain't human. Might as well cut off a thumb or two while you're at it. Barack and Michelle are also not superhuman. Even in their relationship there has been the strain of superpower smart woman ("role reversal" as society would call it) with ambitious, but not quite as up there dude. Talk about power go from being the bread winner of your family and implicitly being able to call the shots to being "just the spouse" to the leader of the free world. Head mommy in about grating and something that might make you one of those "takes a bit longer than a broken bone to heal" kind of ways.

I'm less cynical on some things than on others. Once a cheater always a cheater? Once a beater always a beater? No one can ever change? If all of that is the case, they've got quite the scheme going on in the rehab circles (ironically, Ri Ri might have been fortelling something herself...I have a friend who always matches up with the "fix it case" boyfriend. Does Rhianna always hook up with the abuser? Abusive relationships take two people--the abuser and the victim to which he/she relates. And I'm not talking about the one time hit girl, but if you're always the one time hit girl, does that make you as "bad" in public image as the "always forgiving and staying" girl?

Last point...I promise.

Sadly, Rhianna was lucky. She's got her own...own fame, own benjis and own everything. She didn't NEED Chris or his so she fortunately COULD report out. What about the women who, emotional psychology aside, "can't" leave. Because they don't have a ride to get away. They don't have their own crib (or a way to get it) to get away to. They don't have their own job to pay for the Greyhound bus out of dodge.

Definitely interested in seeing the industry fall out from this. And more facts of what went down. There are always at least three sides to a story with two people involved - his side, her side and the truth in the middle.

Anonymous said...

Lisa J,

I think your point is a good one, but there are multiple threads of debate going on here and, I hope, you would see a difference between beating the hell out of your wife when caught in flagrante, and smacking her.

I think there are women who would argue that even one or two smacks make him an instant abuser, and that would be wrong.

I have a relative, now in his late 50s, who had an argument with his wife (whom he was married to for over 30 years before disease took her). It was a heated argument, and at one point, she called him a bitch, and he backhanded her.

This is the only time he ever hit her. I know this because the story is told by his kids, and it's pretty clear they never saw any other trace of abuse at any other point in the relationship.

Beating the shit out of someone you love or killing them is totally outside the lines. But there are times when, being human, violence flares up.

Not making defenses, just trying to draw some distinctions between actions and what they say about a person.

Anonymous said...

I see what you are saying Big Man, but in this case it sounds like Chris Brown did more than slap her since she went to the hospital. I went with the extreme example I did because the idea of catching a woman in that situation was given as a reason why it might be understandable for a man to beat a woman and so much discussion has revolved around why a woman might "deserve" or "provoke" a beating or a slap, so I wanted to present a situation where 1) the shoe is on the other foot and 2) an example of the extreme of managing anger so poorly. According to what my mother told me, and she only worked with this woman so you never know what she was like behind closed doors, this was a nice woman, who just went off based on the situation and made a horrible, horrible decision. I am sure there are instances of one hit one time, but it is still the wrong thing to do and sadly all to often that one hit turns into many, many more and to often in this day and age physical abuse towards women and children (and some men) gets swept under the rug, dismissed etc andthough I know that isn't where you were going, I just wanted to warn of the possibility or the whiff of that there..

Big Man said...


That actually was Deac who initially responded. I know we think alike, so I could see how you got us confused.

I'll readily admit to all the ladies that everyone of my comments and this general post were colored by the fact that I'm a man with a man's idea of how the world should work. That right there means there is going to be some conflict inevitably.

I don't think catching your wife in bed with another man means you SHOULD beat her. I was trying to say that if you caught your wife in bed with another man it's understandable that you MIGHT beat her, and not be a horrible person. Or an abusive boyfriend.

But, I understand that it's a slippery slope. I guess what I felt was that there have been times where I've reacted in anger in a manner that I'm not proud of. No, I haven't beaten a woman, but in elementary school and middle school I had violent encounters with women that were the result of violence initiated by women. The current climate makes me wonder if most women believe that my willingness to respond violently to these girls is a sign that I have a problem with violence towards women. I don't think that's the case, but from what I've heard from several sources, the only proper response for a man when he's attacked violently by a woman is to restrain her and alert an authority figure. Any time a man responds violently, he is automatically wrong.

That doesn't sit well with me.

Anonymous said...

@Deacon Blue,

I don't think the question is so much how a person can lose their cool, it's the afterwards that matters. Being called names is a wound to a person's pride and ego. But when you hit someone, you threaten their safety. What if your relative's wife had pulled out a gun an shot him? If she felt trully afraid after being asaulted would she not have been justified?

I still say this goes to my point of some men feeling they have a right to hit a woman. She challenged his manhood and he got it back by going upside her head. He remineded her that he was bigger and stronger which is the root of misogyny to begin with. Maybe he never hit her again because he scared her enough not to talk any kind of smack to him anymore?

Anonymous said...

Lisa J,

I totally agree that by all accounts, Chris Brown went waaaaay out of bounds on this, and if it's as bad as it seems, I hope he does serious jail time. To beat the shit out of someone take a special kind of fucked-up-edness.


I'm being somewhat discreet in my phrasing about the situation I related, I realize that, but I should point out that they wife was NOT afraid of her husband. In fact, there were many other times she gave him crap and even sometimes did him wrong (though he wasn't a saint either all the time).

He did not strike fear into her heart. He lost it once, and that's the story. Even if my more casual knowledge of her doesn't convince you, rest assured that her kids would back up that she was anything but frightened of her husband, and he was anything but abusive of her.

That being said, I take seriously your point that in some cases, one hit might put the fear of future hits into a woman's mind, but it's still an oversimplification to say that one mistake makes a logical prediction of future behavior.

Anonymous said...

@Deacon Blue

"That being said, I take seriously your point that in some cases, one hit might put the fear of future hits into a woman's mind, but it's still an oversimplification to say that one mistake makes a logical prediction of future behavior."

Normally, I would agree with this, say in the instance of an affair. But in the case of violence you move into a question of physical safety and even life or death. I'm not saying that a man hitting you once always means he will hit you again, but most women who stick around to find out end up being sorry. When it comes to your physical health and well being, it's actually a perfectly logical conclusion to make. It's as logical as a woman not wanting to walk down a dark alley for fear of rape. Most women who are murdered are murdered by lovers or husbands. Murder is the number one cause of death for pregnant women as well and the murdered is almost always the father of the baby. Given those numbers, the safest, ifnot logical, thing for a woman to do once she's been hit is to conclude that the violence will happen again and escalate. Our instict for safety and survival isn't logical, it's primal. If you detect a danger you can't defend yourself from, you run from it, period. You say "Sorry babe, I accept your apology, but you are a risk I can't take".

I believe your relative and his wife are the exection, not the rule. Every woman who has ended up dead at the hands of a violent husband or boyfriend where at one point women that had only been hit once. The question is should a woman make herself a guinea pig for the sefl control of a man who has been violent with her? I say "No, no, and hell no". The risk is too great, the stakes are too high and the numbers are staggering.

I don't mean to sound judgemental of others and their experiences. I have never been a victim of violence and I used to arrogant enough to think it was because I was smart. But I look at the numbers, I now know that I am probably just very lucky. Or at least I have been so far. Most men are decent and kind based on my experience, but I really don't know how any woman or child makes it throught the world safely.

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Anonymous said...

BigMan, I don't think your experiences as a pre-early-teen don't count in my mind. One b/c you were a kid and kids of all genders scrap sometimes, the power differential at that time is so different, you are way less mature at that age (I've read that the human brain doesn't reach adult maturity until around 25) and generally girls are a little bigger than boys at that age so it isn't quite the same. I'd cut yourself some slack and not even worry about what someone thinks about what you did at that time. I mean unless you beat the stuffing out of the girl. I also think that because some men get physically abused, either b/c they are smaller or just refuse to hit a woman, those men should walk away too. I don't care what you are, when you are an adult, when someone else lays hands on you, you need to escape from that relationship or if it is a case like your aunt and uncle you need to do some serious talking and if it becomes a pattern you need to leave. Abuse is wrong, no matter whose hands it comes from.

Anonymous said...

Whoops, sorry for the double negative, I meant to say I don't think your experiences...count

Anonymous said...

Whoops, sorry for the double negative, I meant to say I don't think your experiences...count

Anonymous said...


Just one more thing, and then I'll shut up.

Not to be a devil's advocate or to be contrary, but I think it would be a big assumption to assume my example is an exception.

Physical abusiveness toward women is really only recorded through statistics of women who've been raped, in long-term abusive relationships, or with someone who was crazy as batshit and beat the hell out of them early in a relationship.

In relationships where something flares up but it isn't a pattern, there is no way we'd find out about those things statistically. So I suspect it happens quite a lot more than you might think.

None of this minmizes the horrors of abuse or the dangers of striking out physically. I'm just saying there is a lot we don't see regarding relationships overall.

Anonymous said...

Good discussion!

I used to have a super-jealous girlfriend (no I did not cheat -- she was just really insecure) who on multiple occasions got physical with me in a rage. I would always restrain her, and at no time did I ever fear for my safety at all.

And that is basically the thing. a woman should never have to fear for her safety.

Now this might sound very unpopular and I apologize if this analysis comes 'too soon", but after Chris Brown is appropriately punished, there lies a real opportunity for him to make a tangible difference on the domestic violence front. firstly, he is only 19, any 19 year old can change, and this might be the kind of shock to his system that is needed. Reforming himself would obviously be his first challenge. Secondly, if domestic violence is to decrease, there has to be a male component to the examples. The current one-sided rehabilitation model really only addresses how women should react.

there has to be former abusers helping -- even if symbolically -- other abusers. this is how the entire drug rehabilitation field is set up. In the 1980s denver bronco's player Vance johnson played this role.

There is certainly a role for demonization, but "cycle-breaking" will take more than that. Chris Brown is young enough to have the potential to play such a role.

It doesn't seem that San Diego padres outfielder brian giles has any plans to step up. he just filed a counter lawsuit of abuse to his ex-girlfriend yesterday...

Rj said...

First, let me tell you my "angle" as I have come here off of a post from Womanist's Musings. I am a survivor of d.v/rape and now an advocate who assists survivors.

I was sorely disappointed in this post when I first read it. I felt that you were bordering on being an apologist/denier. However, I have since realized that I am pleased that you have put your thoughts out here like this...because it allows us a look into the male mind, and maybe there are many that can relate to YOU. And it is only from THIS point, that we can ALL perhaps move forward.

Even if you aren't "converted," hopefully some knowledge has been dropped that will remain salient to you (and others) as a man (and as blaming women).

texascowgirl--hats off to everything you said and to you, too, MODI, excellent!

Anonymous said...


Thanks and I'm glad that you survived and are helping others do the same.

Peace and love to you.

Unknown said...

"In relationships where something flares up but it isn't a pattern, there is no way we'd find out about those things statistically. So I suspect it happens quite a lot more than you might think."

Deac - I think maybe you want to thinks so. From experience in my own family I think it is waaay too easy to say that it is a flare up, or an aberration. Statistics show that most domestic abuse doesn't get reported or prosecuted. And most times it isn't about how she cheated or anything that she did. It's about him thinking that there was something that MADE IT OK FOR HIM TO HIT HER. It isn't. If she has a weapon then you can hit her. That's it.

In these types of discussions that I've read or had verbally with men it seems that you're always looking for the exception or the one time when it's ok. Why is that? I really don't understand. Why do you want to know?

Deac, Big Man (others) - ask yourself - how can she ever trust you if she knows there is a thing she could say that would make you hit her? If she cheated on you leave or don't leave. Scream, yell, take out a full page ad in the NYT and announce her indfidelity to the world. What makes you think that hitting her would do anything but assuage some primitive feeling of manhood?

I really, honestly am baffled.

Anonymous said...

WNG, my point isn't to justify. My point is that it's still about context. One act doesn't define a person. If a spouse cheats, do you always walk away and assume it will happen again? And yes, women are more at risk, there is no doubt; but if Mrs. Blue hits me, even if I simply restrain her, could one not say, "I can't trust her. She hit me. What happens if next time she gets mad with a knife in here hand?"

I'm not looking for exceptions or justifications. I'm not trying to give people an out. What I am trying to do is point out that you cannot define a person by ONE action or one slip up.

But there have been some who have said, essentially, that ONE hit of any kind defines you as an ABUSER--no matter the context, the severity, whether it happens again, etc.

That just doesn't wash.

But this doesn't mean I justify it. I could never imagine hitting my wife. Then again, I couldn't have imagined that Mrs. Blue would destroy a cast iron bedrame with a Louisville slugger one night because I had to work late and she didn't want to be alone that night.

Should I have left her when I came home and saw the carnage in the bedroom? Because, you know, it was violence, with a weapon...and over something related to ME...

There are no black and white answers in life. It's all contextual and relationship-specific.

But yes, violence is bad. No argument here.

Rj said...

But there have been some who have said, essentially, that ONE hit of any kind defines you as an ABUSER--no matter the context, the severity, whether it happens again, etc.

That just doesn't wash.

I can understand what you are saying here if you think of it simply in terms of: if you take one drink, are you an alcoholic, one hit, are you a druggie?

If you kill one person it doesn't make you a serial killer...but regardless on whether it was first-degree, or manslaughter, you're still a murderer.

If you rape once you are a rapist and obviously if it continues, a serial rapist.

But..think of that one assault as the CULMINATION of a PATTERN of events. Before the hit, there are usually a set of behaviors leading to this moment. This is how intimate partner violence/d.v. works. This is why victims return.

"He only hit me once." If this is what is focused on, then, as you are saying, one could insist that he isn't destined to hit again. However, remembering that this is about escalation...if the same conditions continue to exist that lead to this CHOICE, the greater the likelihood that this assault will occur again...because in a flash, it will boil down to "I did it before, and she is here, I probably can do it/get away with it again."

Unknown said...

Deac, the cheating question is a whole other story - and my answer to that is yes. You cheat , one time even, and I'm gone. BUT that has a lot to do with growing up with Papa G (who was a rolling stone).

My issues with abuse have a lot to do with my sisters. I won't get too specific here because it's their business, but if she had left after the first time the next five years wouldn't have happened.

Upon thinking more about it I think my point isn't really whether or not the man is an abuser after one hit or whatever, but whether the woman is a victim after one incident. If she has been made a victim, he will victimize her again - those are now their roles.

And Rj makes great points. There is usually a pattern of other behavior, sometimes very subtle but powerful that leads up to that first incident.

As for Mrs. Blue's batting practice, I'm betting she didn't make you feel like a victim. If she did you guys wouldn't be so strong today.

Hope this makes sense.

Anonymous said...

You make plenty of sense, WNG.

And I'm not really going to respond beyond that because I think that you and I would agree AT LEAST 90 times out 100 in a case where a guy hits a woman that he was fucked up for doing so.

Anonymous said...

this is an excellent discussion! i was kind of pissed when i first read the post, but the discussion highlighted some other elements of your argument.

however, like WNG, i'm also not sure why it's so important to pinpoint the single instance (or couple of instances) where it's justifiable to be physically violent toward a woman.

i understand that all situations are different, but it is never right. and i also have disagree with the idea that one time shouldn't brand him an abuser. it should. now, if he seeks the help and counseling he needs, just like an alcoholic or druggie he can, to some extent, be released from the label. i think the label is necessary, almost as a scare tactic: if a man realizes that his social reputation is at stake if he hits a woman, i think he and many others will think twice before they do the deed. i think he and many others will find more creative, mature, logical, and peaceful ways to resolve conflicts in their lives. the whole problem with our culture in this country is that we often turn to violence to resolve our interpersonal problems.

oh, and modi, i totally agree that men have to play a role in resolving this issue of domestic violence. we often fail to realize this.

anyway, thanks for the post. and i loved the discussion.

Raving Black Lunatic