Thursday, April 4, 2013

Father Beats Daughters With Electrical Cord for Twerking and Many Call it Discipline

Massive Trigger Warning for discussion of child abuse.

A video released by World Hip Hop Stars (which seems to exist to show abuse against Black women and the worst elements of our community for the purposes of entertainment), shows a father beating his two daughters with an electrical cord after finding them twerking. He could have sat his daughters down and talked to them about their behaviour. He could have grounded them, made them do volunteer work, removed their access to the internet, taken away access to electronics, and most importantly, he could have talked to them, but the following is what he decided to do instead.

Warning the video is violent.

Of course, whenever something like this happens, you get the usual round of people defending the action, claiming that this is what discipline looks like.  Some suggested that this is a great move to fight promiscuity and teenage pregnancy. Heaven forbid we empower young girls and talk to them about safe sex and birth control.  Some suggested that even  though the girls were screaming "please stop" and that they were sorry, that the beating wasn't really that bad and that they were making it seem worse than it was. Keep in mind that their father beat them with an extension cord, while he called them "motherfuckers."  Others justified it by claiming that this could have been the last straw and that the girls could have done things off camera that the father was upset with, as though anything they could have done would have justified being beaten like this.

If the issue is that the father found twerking immoral and inappropriate, what he should have done is sat down with his daughters and explained this in depth, along with what he fears will result from this behaviour.  The only thing that these girls learned from this punishment abuse, is that their father is a violent man and to fear him, rather than to trust him to guide him through their childhood.  So many people believe that fear is what makes children obey and avoid trouble but that is far from the truth.  Children who are interacted with, treated with dignity, spoken to at length, will put far more stock into what their parents wishes for them are, than those who are beaten.  How can he claim to love his children and then do this to them?

The truth of the matter is that we live in a sex saturated society and young girls learn from an early age that what matters is the degree to which they can be perceived as sexually viable and attractive, rather than intelligent, outgoing and driven.  You can't wait until they're preeteens or teens to begin talking about the sexualization of women and why it is important for women, in particular women of colour to fight this.  You need to teach them from the very beginning to value themselves as people. You need to teach them that the media and other agents of socialization are working a very specific agenda and though performing for the male gaze is very much normalized that it is devaluing and soul crushing behaviour -- which will eventually cause far more harm -- than any accolade they could possibly achieve. Parenting is about teaching and guiding, not about beating children like  runaway slaves when they make a mistake.  Childhood is a learning process and it will inevitably be filled with mistakes. So, beatings like this constitute abusing them for being exactly what they are - children.

The other thing that disturbed me about this video is that their father was the one responsible for issuing the beating.  He is supposedly punishing them for performing for the male gaze and making themselves open for abuse; however, what is he teaching them but that they deserve to be abused by beating them this way? bell hooks theorized that the family is the first site of oppression and this video clearly displays that in action. Through this action, these girls have learned that it's okay for a man to beat them if he claims to love them and have a desire to protect, and correct negative behaviour.  Essentially, this comes down to, I love you so I hit you. How does this father think this violent abuse is going to affect any other relationships they have with men?

I can only hope that the father and girls will be identified by authorities, so that these vulnerable young children can be protected and the father can face the justice which he is due. These girls weren't beaten because they made a mistake, as many of the commenters across various webpages have suggested, but because they were vulnerable and defenseless. This man would not have beaten a fellow adult like that, nor would so many people have lined up to defend his action as acceptable. His action won't teach his daughters to respect him but to hate him because he broke his sacred trust as a parent - not to abuse their vulnerability.  There is nothing which can be said to justify his decision or his actions.  What this video displays is not love but violence and privilege run amok.