I very rarely read entertainment news, but a story today caught my eye, and what I read was absolutely appalling.
Three years ago, a pop musician named Chris Brown was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend. He beat her about the face until she bore no resemblance at all to who she was before the assault. She was a pretty girl before she was attacked. Afterward, she looked like what she was: a girl with a broken, battered, bruised face. Her eyes were swollen shut. Her lips were puffy. She wore defeat like a veil. She looked like hell; I’m sure she felt far worse than she looked.
The assault itself is old news, but last night, Brown appeared at the Grammy awards, and the story I read today related the disturbing-horrifying, really-response of many young women to his appearance. Twitter was a virtual masochism party as teenage girls and young women professed their love for Brown, saying things like, “Chris Brown can beat me anytime” and inviting him to beat them as long as he’ll kiss their faces afterward. It was one of the scariest things I’d ever read.
Not long ago I overheard an acquaintance justifying domestic violence by saying that after you’ve been together for a while, things like that happen, and you just need to get over it. “Guys hit,” she said. “As long as they’re paying the bills and taking care of you, it’s not a big deal.”
This is not a teenage girl, moon-eyed over a pop star. The woman who said that is my age, raising children. She graduated high school and doesn’t appear, from the few conversations we’ve had, to be horribly deficient in the intellect department-or she didn’t, until she made that statement.
“Guys hit… it’s not a big deal.” Really?
People like this are raising girls that might suffer through years of abuse because they’re being “taken care of.” They are raising boys that may try to justify violence by saying that their partners pushed their buttons, ran their mouths, didn’t do what they were told. As long as that mentality exists, we will have little girls and little boys growing up believing that, as this paragon of virtue and wisdom claimed, “guys hit.”
Here is what our daughters need to know: When he tells you to choose between him and your friends, he isn’t looking out for your best interests-he’s claiming ownership. When he yells at you and calls you names, he’s not correcting you, okay? He’s hurting you. When he forces you to have sex, he’s not doing what he has to do because you’re his wife or girlfriend or baby mama and he has needs and you have no right to say no. He’s assaulting you. And when he hits you, or kicks you, or pushes you into the wall, or holds you down so you can’t move, he’s not just overreacting or having a bad day or letting you get to him. He is ASSAULTING you, the same as if he were a stranger on the street, attacking you out of nowhere. This is what we all need to make sure our daughters know and trust and believe.
And while we’re teaching our girls to be strong and not tolerate being assaulted by their partners, we need to teach our boys that their value is not tied up in the heft of their wallets or their ability to use force to get things done. We need to teach our sons that assaulting others is a sign of weakness and lack of self-control, not a way of proving their manhood. Your job is to control yourself, not those you claim to love. The onus is not on the victims in this situation-the responsibility for ending domestic violence lies with the ones committing the violence. Don’t teach your sons that guys hit; don’t pretend that all guys behave that way. I know for a fact that they don’t, and every child deserves to grow up to know the same thing.
- If you’re being abused, please go to http://www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or talk to a friend or relative you trust.
- One in four women will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. Domestic violence also affects teenagers and people in same-sex relationships; men in heterosexual relationships can be victims as well. Domestic violence occurs in people at every income level, of every race, religion and ethnicity.
- About 30% of murdered women were killed by their partners or former partners. The same is true for about 5% of men who are victims of homicide. Don’t assume the violence won’t kill you-it might.
*My partner is a recording artist, and he does not think beating your wife is cool- just had to make that perfectly clear.