The Domestic Abuse Double-Standard – Part 2: A Man’s Worth

In Part 1, we looked at how people thought female partners assaulting male partners was largely ignored or overlooked. In the video I showed, most people thought that such a scene was no big deal, no reason to step in, or even a good thing. In Part 2, you’ll see just how bad the double-standard of domestic abuse has gotten, and who we should be blaming for it.

A Man is Only As Valuable As His Penis

The Talk

A few months ago, there was a famous case of a woman called Catherine Kieu Becker drugged her husband to paralyze him, and literally cut off his penis. This excellently-made documentary-style video, courtesy of “ManWomanMyth.com” shows the response this story got as it was broadcast to the world, as well as the problems associated with it:

“If I was to be found in the street tomorrow morning with my penis cut off down the road, I would be laughed at. I’m so worthless, because I’m a male, that I would be laughed at. The media would make jokes about it – and men would be doing it too.”

“I do think it’s kind of fabulous,” Sharon Osbourne said, before the audience of females burst into laughter and applause. This is a scene on the U.S. TV show called “The Talk,” in which several women talk about various news and opinions, and talk with guests.

Allow me to explain the context of the crime. The couple had apparently been going through a divorce. The police received a call from the woman, who said the husband deserved what he got. They arrived to the scene, to see a man tied to a bed, bleeding profusely from his groin. It turns out that she drugged him by poisoning his food, bound him to the bed, and cut off his penis. Then she put it in the garbage disposal and turned it on. So which part of that, ladies, was the punch line?

Obviously, on their next show, after having been flooded by viewers’ comments on how they were being sexist and hypocritical, they offered an apology. You can be the judge of just how seriously they took the apology… but just remember that if any man ever laughed about female genital mutilation, he would be vilified before you can say “double-standard.” In fact, Sharon Osbourne couldn’t even say “I do not condone genital mutilation” without laughing the first time. The following video shows the full clips of the talk and the subsequent apology.

We really mean no harm when we say things […] there’s no ill intent. But it’s not easy doing a live show five days a week. And we wish we can say the right thing all the time, but we can’t, it’s hard. We can’t look good all the time, we can’t say the right thing, we can’t be funny all the time…

While it did seem at the end to be something of a heartfelt apology, I don’t think anyone who saw the broadcast thought that this was just a gaff. It’s not like a one-word outburst or a tasteless joke… it was an entire segment that went on with audience laughter and a complete disregard for the obvious suffering of a drugged man in a horrible crime. The sad thing isn’t that the women were cruel, it’s that they didn’t even realize how cruel they were being.

In fact, while one of the hosts, Sara Gilbert, was the one to point out the inherent sexism of the female panel, her analogy was fairly telling. She said that the panel would not be laughing if some guy cut off a woman’s breast, which is true… because that’s not funny. But it’s not even on the same level. A true analogy would be if some guy sliced up a woman’s vagina. It’s such a horrible thought it makes me cringe. Yet women have to be reminded that this kind of thing isn’t good to say. …Or call fabulous. …Or laugh at.

It’s Everybody

Needless to say, this article doesn’t apply to the undeveloped, horribly anti-woman world, such as in various Middle Eastern cultures. But I should emphasize the fact that, while I have talked at length about the double-standards of abuse, this is not simply a women-on-men attack. Society as a whole – both men and women – are responsible for the treatment of male victims. In fact, I submit that you would never see such callous disregard in a country like Sweden, where gender equality is much more pronounced.

It’s a fundamental problem in the way males are brought up in society, learning lessons from “men don’t cry,” to “if you lose a fight… you’re just a loser,” and even “If you lose a fight against a woman, you’re not even a man.” Take this example from the 1993 film “The Sandlot,” in which the sexism of a bunch of young males begets their fear of being emasculated. A heated argument ends after one kid crosses the line. The scene is a classic, and just another example of these societal lessons.

Unfortunately, while this is a problem that starts at a young age, it doesn’t go away. It continues on, and goes all the way up to those with real authority – the police.

On top of the fact that men are reluctant to admit that they have been hurt by a woman, police don’t take male-targeted domestic-violence nearly as seriously as female-targeted abuse. Obviously, police reports don’t reflect the reality of the situation. For example, Philip Cook’s book “Abused Men,” documents various stories of men trying to elicit police intervention to no avail. Some filed reports of police misconduct, but largely they just had to suffer without intervention as they attempted to escape their abusive relationships.

Researchers Denise Hines and Emily Douglas, whose paper on male-targeted domestic violence was published last year, had this to say:

Over 30 years of research has established that both men and women are capable of sustaining intimate partner violence (IPV) by their opposite-sex partners, yet little research has examined men’s experiences in such relationships. Some experts in the field have forwarded assumptions about men who sustain IPV–for example, that the abuse they experience is trivial or humorous and of no consequence and that, if their abuse was severe enough, they have the financial and psychological resources to easily leave the relationship–but these assumptions have little data to support them.

The present study is an in-depth, descriptive examination of 302 men who sustained severe IPV from their women partners within the previous year and sought help. […] It is concluded that, contrary to many assumptions about these men, the IPV they sustain is quite severe and both mentally and physically damaging; their most frequent response to their partner’s IPV is to get away from her; and they are often blocked in their efforts to leave, sometimes physically, but more often because of strong psychological and emotional ties to their partners and especially their children.

They also mentioned an interesting example of the type of response they get from respondents who talked about the repercussions of exiting such a relationship:

“She threatened to ruin me financially, ruin my professional reputation (we work together), lock me out of the house, and tell the police anything she wants to tell them (domestic situations being as difficult to ascertain as they are, men are guilty until proven innocent).”

The Bottom Line

Whether or not you believe that we live in a male-dominated society, it’s clear that the world does not consider male-targeted violence to be on the same level as female-targeted violence. When American music artist Rihanna was seen a few years ago as a victim to a brutal beating by her boyfriend Chris Brown, no one made fun of her. I would never want to make light of the incident myself, and I think Brown got a slap on the wrist compared to what should have been real justice. But it makes me wonder… what would the reaction be if the roles were reversed? I have a hunch that it would entail a lot of jokes and humiliation, needlessly adding insult to injury.

Because apparently the punch line for domestically abusing men is simply the fact that it happened.

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