Thursday, 6 August 2009

Not funny

Three US women - the wife and two lovers of some particular bloke - lured him to a motel and assaulted him, punching him in the face and supergluing his penis to his stomach. I don't think this is funny - I don't think violence is funny full stop - and it disturbs me that the incident has been reported as semi-comical light entertainment.

I can see why it's been reported this way, although I don't agree. It's like the fact that we feel free to take the piss out of public figures in a way we wouldn't the everyday people around us. We perceive a power differential between them and us, so making fun seems like a kind of levelling. There's a lot to sympathise with in the jilted wife/lover story. We might perceive a power imbalance between the man and the women in his life who he uses and strings along. After all, thanks to historically unfavourable divorce laws and lack of support for unwed mothers, it's women who have generally come off second best after relationship break-ups. There will be many a woman who reads this article and feels revived irritation with the bloke she married, gave up opportunities for and had a family with, who then left her for someone younger and more glamorous, without the saggy reminders of childbearing.

None of these are reasons to perpetrate an act of violence, condone it or laugh at it, even though these are easy responses to a situation many feel is probably inequitable. They are good reasons to think harder about the institution of marriage, infidelity and its effects, and how women fare when relationships fall apart. That should be able to be accomplished without violence against individuals, or holding that violence up as a source of entertainment. To use a sporting metaphor: we need to play the ball, not the man.


A Nonny Moose said...

Yes, I was perplexed by the sly side smile tone to the story too - "Oh those silly wimmen and their scorned revenge! Movie rights at 11..."

It reminds me of the Lorena and John Bobbit incident.

Very odd double standard. We're very harsh on wanting accountability for man-on-woman domestic violence, but when woman-on-man violence is dismissed like this, it makes it very hard for society to break out of the eye-for-an-eye cycle. Perhaps if they hadn't done something "humorous" to his member, it would have been taken more seriously? Coz it's ok to laugh at a guy having revenge taken out on his dick? Where has this come from? Our sexual insecurity?

Ramblings of a woman who hasn't have the first cuppa of the day...

Anna said...

I think you're right with the 'eye-for-an-eye' comment - what's that wise phrase about it leaving everyone blind?

I wouldn't want to overstate the feminist dimensions of the reporting, though. There's lots of popular culture beliefs around infidelity that make me uncomfortable. They apply differently to men and women. I'm thinking of people sympathising with the Lion Man for injuring his wife's back when he believed she was unfaithful. Mind you, no one ever thought that was comical, like the superglue incident. I think there's a 'spouse as property' attitude here. I think there's a different response to male infidelity, which has something to do with the historical fact that women gained their livelihood/access to resources through marriage - so that the woman who's marriage fell apart was seriously in the poo. The bloke who walked out on a marriage took the $ with him, and compromised his wife and kids in a really serious way. Maybe that's why there's a bit of 'serve you right' in the way this has been reported?

A Nonny Moose said...

I agree there needs to be the accountability for women financially abandoned. The "LOL dick joke" perpetuated by this type of reporting/anecdote doesn't help that dialogue.

What are they saying? That you should be more worried about losing your penis than your credibility or money when you abandon a woman?

Brett Dale said...

I was surprised to see TVNZ laugh about it, Double standard for sure.

Anonymous said...

It has been glamourised for a bit that women getting "revenge" on their husbands is fair dues.

I think that while most of these men may deserve ill treatment if they did hit or rape their wives, if a man hit a woman or glued her breasts together, society would be outraged. Instead its a "oddstuff" headline.