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The Politics of Violence: Do you see what I see?

To whoever says it’s physically impossible for a female to be in a “fair” fight with a male………..

Everyone has an opinion about the situation involving Rihanna and Chris Brown. This singular incident has sparked, once agian, heavy debate about the larger issue of domestic violence. I am a student of philosophy, therefore I appreciate the art of debate. From a purely philosophical perspective, debate is grounded in logic, with both parties making valid points that can either be affirmed or denied in the realm of reason. When it comes to the subject of violence between men and women however, logic falls to the wayside. It’s an itense topic and people often get emotional. One lady on the popular gossip blog Bossip took issue with a comment that I made. In my comment I said, “No one is ever beaten without provocation, except if the attacker is just psychologically unstable…..” She said “There are women and men beat every day without provocation”, and goes on to say she finds it ‘mindblowing’ that anyone would suggest Rihanna provoked Chris Brown’s actions . Okay. Perhaps in my haste, I had to be at work in 45 min, I did not word my thoughts properly. Basically what I meant to imply was that no act of violence is without a catalyst. People keep bringing blame and fault-finding in the mix.  The nature of the catalyst for that violence is not the issue, I’m just merely stating the catalyst exists.Keeping it strictly scientific, every action has an equal an opposite reaction. Whether it be something as indirect such as a look or a gesture, or something more direct such as a comment of taunt, there is almost always something that acts a tigger for violent outbursts and acts of aggression, unless you are dealing with an attacker who is mentally disturbed and out of touch with reality. Even then, in thier minds, SOMETHING has triggered them. We live in a violent society…….that’s just what it is. The thing that annoys me about people when it comes to the subject of violence, this includes domestic violence, is they often speak in terms of how it “should” be, what we “shouldn’t” do. There’s a lot of things that we as human beings feel we “should” not do to one another based on individual concepts of morality and justice, but the fact is people beat each other to a bloody mess, or worse, every day. It doesn’t matter if you are male, female, elderly or a child, today nobody is sacred. We are all targets for extreme violence. Young men are beaten to death right outside the front steps of their schools, young girls are gang raped and beaten in dark alleys as spectators take pictures on their camera phones , elderly men are pounded in shopping center parking lots for offensive driving maneuvers, and 4 year olds are drowned and stuffed in dryers to keep them from telling someone about the molestation they endured at the hands of another child. We can sit and talk about who shouldn’t hit who all day long, but that still doesn’t address the larger issues pertaining to why our society is jacked up in ways that most don’t or refuse to accept .

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Why……..

william-joseph-colvindomesticviolenceWhy does a a person stay with someone who has repeatedly been violent towards them? Why does a person stay with a someone who is so temperamental, so argumentative that they are moved to act with extreme aggression towards them? Why does ‘love’ seem to hurt more than it heals?  Why is everyone acting like this is something new? These are the things I think about when faced with the media’s obsession with the events that transpired between Robin Fenty and Chris Brown the night of February 8, 2009. I have always believed that whatever happened in that car, they were both as much to blame as they were both victims. The best of friends for 6 years and lovers for 2, the public will never be able to understand what got them to the place of bruised faces and probation. I would love to see 20/20 go in depth with Brown, but we all know that will never happen. The media is definitely biased and the public has been conditioned to empathize with the female in these types of situations.

It is naive and archaic to think that a man won’t hit a woman. I say this knowing full well that most will persecute me for saying so, but I don’t feel sympathy for women who hit men and then get hit back. I am in no way speculating that Fenty struck Brown first, as many have, but I am merely making the point that in this day and age the same old rules do not apply. When it comes to male on female violence younger generations regard it much more differently than their elders. There are several females I know, myself included, who are not afraid to fight a man. They take no issue in breaking somebody off with a jab, jab, upper cut, left hook combo no matter whether they be of the same or opposite sex.  In a survey taken during March of this year by the Boston Public Health commission 44% of the 200 12-19 year old youths surveyed said fighting(as opposed to arguing) was a NORMAL part of a relationship. Interestingly enough, the older gentlemen who wrote the post critiscizing the results of the poll could not wrap his head around why the youth thought this way. We live in a hyper sexual, hyper violent society in which the ages of victims as well as perpitrators of rape, assault, and murder just gets lower and lower. We see examples everyday on our television screens of what mishandled emotions cause people to do to one another. Among the youth, it is often said, emotions run wild.

For many of us domestic violence is just a fact of life. Many a young woman I know, myself included,  knows first hand what happens when a woman cowers at the site of a raised hand or balled fist, and many aren’t going out like that. Many young men I know have grown up with a woman internally scarred from domestic abuse attempting to TEACH them how to be a man. The only thing I found shocking when the story broke was how shocked the nation seemed to be. This type of thing literally happens every day, every 9 seconds to be exact. It is time to start exploring the WHY with as much passion and vigor as we discuss the WHAT. Despite the popular rationalization “It is never okay for a man to put his hands on a woman ever” flying out of the mouths of Oprah and your next door neighbor alike, WHY does a physical assault on a woman at the hands of an intimate partner take place every 9 seconds in this country, WHY will 25% of women be physically assaulted by an intimate partner in her lifetime, WHY are 1.3 million women an 835,000 men physically assaulted by an intimate partner each year? It’s naive and sexist to think the abuse of a female is somehow more important or severe than the abuse of a man.

There is something that I found very striking as I watched Rihanna’s interview on 20/20 this evening. She made a statement almost identical to a statement Brown made in his interview with Larry King. Both said that as children they were afraid to go to sleep at night for fear of what would happen to thier mothers at the hands of the men in their lives. It is a profound link, the shared experience of being children reared amidst the turmoil of domestic violence, that tells more about what happened as they drove home that night than any interview they will ever give. Watching her, I saw a young woman still trying to make sense of the situation. I saw a young woman dealing with the enourmous weight of super stardom who felt the pressure to satisfy the public and set the record ‘straight’ in order to keep her image intact and her empire from crumbling around her. I don’t believe we got the full scope of what happened between them, and I don’t think we ever will. 

 Domestic violence, especially today, is not as one sided as most would like to believe. It is a complex situation having many layers, that most of us just don’t have the time or patience to peel away. I think that it was a bad move on the part of the media to get any further involved in this situation than they already have.  It seemed as if 20/20 was looking at this 21 year old  to shed light on a situation that has plagued society for decades, centuries. As much as she may want to fill  that role Rihanna can’t and won’t be the Golden Child for the decline of domestic violence. She did not say anything we have not heard before ; if it happened to me it can happen to anyone, F love, and love is blind.  Eve told us love was blind back in 99′. Halle let us know in 2004 if it can happen to one of the most beautiful, successful and powerful women on the planet it could happen to us. Tina said F love when she released the timeless jam ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’. I’m not trying to take anything away from what Rihanna has experienced and the good she is trying to make of it, but when it comes to domestic violence, as a society we have been so obsessed with the WHO and the WHAT. Can we get down to the WHY?