Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Disliking Tiger Woods Is Not A Reason To Laugh At Domestic Violence

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I saw this image over at Danny’s Corner of the Universe last week.  I have thought about it repeatedly while reading the commentary regarding Tiger Woods in the last few days.  Tiger has become the water cooler hot topic since it was released that he has engaged in multiple affairs with women.  Late night comedians and blogs have used his lechery as fodder for comedy.

Without evidence, it has been suggested that Elin, Tigers wife, took a golf club to him when she learned of his alleged indiscretions.  Some have gone on to claim that this was a positive blow for White women.  It is believed that Tiger chooses White women because he feels that they are servile and Black women are dominating and therefore; by reacting with violence, it has been suggested that Elin taught Black men everywhere that White women will stand up for themselves.  Tiger has emphatically stated that Elin did not assault him but this has not stopped the conjecture.  

What I find disturbing about this so-called comedy is that it reduces domestic violence to something that is not serious, damaging and LIFE THREATENING.  Clearly, statistically the victims of domestic violence are overwhelmingly women in heterosexual relationships but this does not mean that there are not male  victims.   In some situations men DO get beaten by their wives.  Domestic violence is also a facet of same sex relationships.   When we laugh and create images of a man being beaten, we are victim shaming and making it even more difficult for male victims to step forward and get the help and counselling that they desperately need.

Men in particular are shamed if they are beaten by women because it is understood as emasculating.  Male rape victims are silenced in exactly the same way.  Just as we have normalized false truths about womanhood, we have constructed and enabled a masculinity that is deeply flawed.  Never is there a more clear example of the ways in which sexism hurts men too than when we deny their victim status to preserve a form of masculinity that never has moments of weakness, emotional trauma or doubt.  Would we find the above image even remotely funny if the victim was reversed?

We know that Tiger was not the victim of domestic abuse however turning violence into the butt of a joke only perpetuates the idea that the terror that it invokes in households across the nation is not serious.   Creating images like above only serves as evidence of how disconnected we have become from the realities of violence in our so-called evolved culture.  It does not matter whether the victim is male or female, no one has the right to lay their hands on another.