THE tweets were reactions to Chris Brown’s appearance at the Grammy Awards. All were variations on a theme: domestic violence.
Reading through them was an assault, too. A vivid reminder that at the start of the 21st century, there are still plenty of insecure women parading about like peahens in ways certain to attract abusive partners.
They went like this: ‘'Everyone shut up about Chris brown (sic) being a woman beater … Shiiittt, he can beat me up all night if he wants,’‘ and ’‘Not gonna lie. I’d let Chris Brown beat me #sosexy #lovehim #don'tevencare.’‘ There was ’‘Chris Brown you can beat me if you want,’‘ and ’‘Chris Brown, please beat me.’‘ We had ’‘I don’t know why Rihanna complained. Chris Brown could beat me anytime he wanted to,’‘ and ’‘Damn Chris Brown, you can beat me up any time,’‘ as well as ’‘Chris Brown can punch me ANY DAY.’'
There were more – 25 in all – but you get the picture.
Were these women joking? I don’t think so. Even if they were, it reveals much about what constitutes acceptable humour in 21st-century Western societies. As domestic violence expert Dr Dina McMillan points out, no one was tweeting jokes about Chris Brown being so hot he could beat their child. Perhaps that’s because there’s no way to make a joke about assaulting kids but funnies about battering women? That’s another story.
Are such women the only 25 on the planet interested in hooking up with violent men, or who think jokes about them are funny? McMillan says no. ‘'Nothing I read in those tweets surprised me.’'
Apparently, the world is full of women whose self-esteem is so low that being hit by a man is deemed better than not being noticed at all.
Men have long blamed women for rape and domestic violence. Who can forget Sheikh Taj Din El-Hilali’s 2006 wisdom on the rights and wrongs of gang rape: ‘'If you take out uncovered meat … and the cats come and eat it … whose fault is it, the cat’s or the uncovered meat?’'
The elephant in the room in these latest tweets is the possibility that after years of feminist rejection of just this sort of victim-blaming, men like the Sheikh may be right. Maybe some women do ask for it.
I think not. First, because the ‘'asking for it’‘ found in the slap-tweets is different to that proffered by male apologists. For them – as the Sheikh’s comments make clear –
it is what women wear and where they go, or how much they nag, that makes men do it.
None of the slap-tweets said, ‘'I’m in a short skirt, rape me.’‘ Instead, they appear to be a public display of what sadly remains a key component of contemporary femininity – in some circles at least – a willingness to submit to a powerful man.
As McMillan reminds us, abuse in real life isn’t cute. Tucked away in cyber-space, the tweet-slap brigade were at little risk of having their dream-boy’s fist shatter their jaw. Instead, this group of mostly young women may have been broadcasting their adherence to traditional notions of femininity to their own, more accessible, dating pool.
Perhaps it was fitting that as the young musical sensation Adele swept the awards, inspiring the next generation of women to pursue their dreams, the demise of Whitney Houston prompted the next crop of female victims to make their intentions known, too.
Backward Step for Feminism Moral Maze: Sunday Sun-Herald