Guest Author - Cassandra George Sturges
The way the media has handled the alleged physical altercation between pop stars Chris Brown and Rihanna is sexist, biased and traditional 'old-school' type thinking about male and female gender roles that does not take into account the biology of how the brain responds to stress.
Whenever there is a fight between a man and a woman most people automatically assume that it is the man’s fault because he is physically bigger and stronger than a woman. However, the primary and most dangerous assumption is that this belief indirectly implies is that the man is also intellectually superior, more rational, and logical-- and should be incapable of responding emotionally to a woman’s child-like tantrums and tirades. If he is a “real-man” no matter what the woman is doing or saying to him, he should man-up and walk away. This line of logic also erroneously assumes that men are like robots when it comes to controlling anger towards women.
What many women are unable to understand or admit intellectually and spiritually is that we want it both ways—we want to be treated as intellectual equals in all matters of society when it’s to our advantage; yet reserve the right to be treated as inferior and weak when it comes to emotional control when interacting with a male partner. Most people believe that under any and all circumstances a real man would never strike a woman no matter what she does to him.
In the movie Jerry Mcguire his ex-fiancé, played by Kelly Preston, punched and kicked him upon learning that he was calling off the marriage. A woman character in the movie Two can Play that Game used a baseball bat to hit the male character who played her boyfriend and broke the furnishings in his apartment. In the movie Baby Boy, the lead female character consistently physically attacked the male leading character for cheating on her. In the movie 27 Dresses, Katherine Heigal’s character slaps the male leading character, a columnist for the local newspaper, after learning that he had written an article about her. In the movie Definitely, Maybe in the scene where the main male character, William, suggest to friend, April that she should go to Life Rehab; she slaps his face twice and says “get off of my front porch!”
In the movie Sex in the City, Carrie beats Mr. Big after he jilted her. Is it ever okay for a woman to hit a man when she is angry? This is the question. There are so many movies that portray the strong male cowboy-type who is slapped by the angry woman for whatever reason. The media is clearly saying that it is okay for a woman to hit a man for misbehaving, but it is domestic violence if a man strikes a woman for any reason. Physically attacking another human being is not a gender issue.
How we socialize boys and girls contribute to domestic violence. When my son would tell me that my daughter hit him, I would tell my son to stop acting like a baby. “I know you’re not upset because a ‘girl’ hit you,” I would tease him. However, when my son hit my daughter I would explain to him the importance of self-control and not letting anyone coerce him into an act that is not representative of who he is. I would tell my son that he should walk away from his sister no matter how hard she hit him because he is male and this means that he is physically stronger than his sister. I realized that what I actually was doing was telling my son that he was more rational and intelligent than my daughter.
Additionally, I was inadvertently telling my daughter that it is okay to be emotionally out of control and use physical violence as a manner of communicating her feelings. I wasn’t teaching my daughter that she is as capable of rational behavior and being in control of her actions. It was not psychologically healthy for me to give my daughter the indirect message that she is the weaker sex mentally or physically. I no longer tolerate verbal or physical abuse from either of my children because it never solves the real issues.
If women don’t want a men to physically abuse them, then they shouldn’t slap, him, search through his personal belongings, or verbally or physically abuse him in any way. And since we are equally intelligent as men, why can we be a ‘real-woman’ and leave him when we feel disrespected or unloved?
Until women are willing to see the role that they play in perpetuating aggression and anger in society this will be an ongoing social ill in America and possibly around the world. If Rihanna initiated, provoked or started the physical altercation with Chris Brown – this case should be objectively assessed and judgment given based on both parties being intellectually equal and responsible for how their behavior may impact the fight or flight response in another human-beings’ brain. Period. This issue is bigger than Chris Brown and Rihanna—this is about how men and women are conditioned to communicate with each other before they are angry.