Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Maury Povich Exploits Domestic Abuse For Ratings


Maury may have dressed himself up as a kinder, gentler Jerry Springer but just like most of these daytime talk shows, ratings come before people.  If this show is scripted it is heinous and if it is real it is equally as heinous.  Domestic abuse is one of the most horrible things that a woman can experience. 

Povich brought a man on the show named John who demands that his spouse brush his teeth, bathe him, cut his toenails, and have sex with him three times a day.  When she fails to perform her prescribed duties, he responds by punching her or locking her in the basement with the dogs.  Of course, Povich expressed rage by calling the man a bully and announcing that there was such a thing as marital rape, however; how different is he from the man that complained about, when he clearly has an agenda by bringing them both on the show?

Scripted or not, I think it is also very interesting that Povich chose a Black couple to spotlight.  John in particular played out every single negative social construction of Black masculinity.  Most abusers are not as vocal about their activities as this man.  The process involves separating the woman from her support group and then slowly overtime escalating their violence. To the world at large they appear to be caring men but in the privacy of their homes they are tyrants.  This is the model to which I most accustomed to seeing played out.

What I would like to know is where exactly Maury feels his obligation to help these women comes in.  Sending their partners to bootcamp will not solve the situation.  The moment John admitted to striking his wife, he had confessed to a crime.  Where was the legal intervention in this case?  Why was there no discussion about helping her, rather than forcing her to publicly allocute the ways in which her life was made a living hell, by the man that professed to love her. 

John repeatedly said that he was the man to justify his behaviour.  Maury did not attempt to dissect the ways in which patriarchy is directly responsible for the abuse of women.  Men exist with power because society is structured to benefit them at all cost and this has tragic results to all women.  This often leads to victim blaming.  Maury did not hold the women directly responsible but by putting them on the show, he sought to use his privilege to gain from their exploitation.

Generally speaking I do not watch shows like Maury because of the obvious exploitation.  Shows like this have made benefitting from pain their stock and trade and yet people continue to watch.  It is though by consuming these images we can convince ourselves that our shitty live are not so bad because some poor sop has it worse.  It turns pain and suffering into a carnival.  Domestic abuse should never be a topic for the purposes of entertainment when it so often leads to death.  Whether this show was scripted or real, using womens lives in this way is offensive.  We need to have discussions about power, violence and gender but not in a circus like fashion that ignores the very real issues involved.