Friday, January 9, 2009

How to properly condone domestic violence

by Elizabeth Winkler

Over winter break, I came across this video – disturbing beyond words – on in which men who are clearly meant to imitate Princeton students demonstrate the ‘superior’ abusive skills appropriate for use on their ‘bitches.’ The video – which begins by introducing woman-slapping as “man’s oldest sport” – is set against a decidedly Ivy-league background (presumably meant to be comical) of a roaring fireplace, red wine (to relax before the “big night” of abuse), argyle sweaters, cigars… you get the picture. It’s the perfect, cozy home environment towards which the American dream aspires. Except in this American dream, domestic violence is the order of the day.

The video outlines three key steps: Pre-Slap Preparation, Hand Placement, and Rebuilding Comfort and Trust (Post-Slap). As the preparation phase makes clear, violence against women should be the result of rational thought and deliberation: rather than the accidental result of boiling emotions, it is absorbed into the realm of the everyday and the acceptable, not to mention a sort of leisure activity for the stressed breadwinner. The hand placement segment illustrates the ‘sweet spot’ on a woman’s cheek, and follows the demonstrated slap with an aesthetic splattering of ruby red blood. Finally, make sure your girl understands not to “make me ever have to do this again.” It’s the girl’s fault, don’t you see!? Help her apply concealing make-up; practice a cover story: it’s all part of the fun! What’s more: “after that, your relationship will be stronger than ever.”

While some may attempt to argue that the video is, in actuality, a witty, ironic critique of paternalism and the domestic violence culture – its creators certainly seem to find themselves abundantly amusing – the extremes that the video reaches cross the threshold of the remotely acceptable, let alone the humorous. After all, one has to wonder if – on a certain level – these guys actually mean what they joke about. And let’s not forget perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this entire issue – the participation of a girl, the ‘object’ of the video’s slapping. One is quite forced to admit the utter failure of feminism and domestic violence awareness when another woman happily joins in the making of a video that advocates the ridicule, abuse and dehumanization of herself and others of her sex. Honestly, how much worse can it get?

Lastly, let me remind you that this video was posted on Dec. 28, 2008. For all the ease of projecting problems of our world onto ‘other places’ and ‘other people,’ this video is valuable, if anything, for placing a human rights issue before us, right here and right now.


At January 9, 2009 at 6:02 PM , Blogger Roscoe said...

Dude, really?

Ever heard of a reductio ad absurdum?

I applaud these people for showing just how awful this shit actually is.

And moreover, how messed up of a moral compass some people can have.

At January 9, 2009 at 10:04 PM , Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Hm.... while I'd like to think that this is a reductio ad absurdum case, I think that is giving the creators of the video wayyyy too much credit. As I mention in my post, it might be interpreted by some as a 'witty' or 'ironic' critique of domestic violence, but I think when one watches the video it becomes pretty clear that these guys enjoy making a joke out of abusing women. They just think it's funny... women and violence against them are the butts of all sorts of 'politically incorrect' jokes (for instance, we've all heard jokes about rape....) I don't think this video is really all that different.


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