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PORTSIDE  February 2012, Week 3

PORTSIDE February 2012, Week 3

Subject:

The Senate and Grammys Condone Domestic Abuse

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Date:

Wed, 15 Feb 2012 20:38:24 -0500

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The Senate and Grammys Condone Domestic Abuse

     Republicans won't back a key anti-violence act,
     Chris Brown is celebrated -- and the Internet just
     cheers along

By Mary Elizabeth Williams
Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012
http://www.salon.com/2012/02/15/the_senate_and_grammys_condone_domestic_abuse/

It's a great time to be a domestic abuser. Just last
week, not a single Republican on the Senate Judiciary
Committee voted to reauthorize the Violence Against
Women Act - a law that in 2000 and 2005 swept easily
through the renewal process. While saying he "supports
this law, always has," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa,
did helpfully offer some changes - including, according
the New York Times, "a huge reduction in authorized
financing, and elimination of the Justice Department
office devoted to administering the law and coordinating
the nation's response to domestic violence and sexual
assaults." Surely those contentious new provisions that
would offer protection to gay, lesbian and transgender
victims as well as undocumented aliens wouldn't have
anything to do with the holdup. Writing for GOPUSA last
Tuesday, the perennially terrible Phyllis Schlafly
crowed that the move was "a refreshing indication that
Republicans are no longer intimidated by feminist
demands" over a law that was "promoting divorce, breakup
of marriage and hatred of men." Well, thank God we
dodged that bullet. Now just fend for yourself dodging
the real bullets, ladies.

We've also seen the surprisingly low-key response to the
arrest Sunday of Hugh Hefner's son Marston on a domestic
abuse charge. The younger Hefner is accused of
assaulting his girlfriend Claire Sinclair, the 2011
Playmate of the Year. The Los Angeles Times reports that
police, responding to a domestic assault call,
"determined Sinclair had suffered minor injuries
consistent with an assault" - and a photo of a bruised
Sinclair on TMZ seems to corroborate.

Sinclair says she doesn't want to press charges "if
[Hefner] keeps his word to give a public apology for
physically abusing me on several occasions, and seeks
psychiatric help for his anger issues." (She has,
however, sought a temporary restraining order.) And ever
since the news broke, the always-classy TMZ commenters
have been busy calling Sinclair "a whore [who] deserves
everything she got," "gold-digging trash," and "a ho ass
liar." Because girls who pose naked in magazines and
date the boss' son shouldn't be surprised when they wind
up bruised, right?

Hef himself, meanwhile, has been expectedly tight-lipped
about the altercation. He did tell People this week that
"If they care about each other, they'll patch it up."
Sure, sometimes couples get in fights and they turn
physical on both sides. But that's a hell of a hopeful
response to having your son accused of beating his
girlfriend - a woman you know and work with, by the way.
A word or two about how it's not okay to hit the ladies,
that the Playboy empire does not condone violence, might
have been nice to add, as well.

But the biggest winner this Abuse-uary has been Chris
Brown. Brown, who pleaded guilty to felony assault in
2009 for the beating of his then-girlfriend Rihanna -
and has been known to go berserkers after TV appearances
and fire off a homophobic tweet or two for good measure
- was off to a rocky start Thursday when a Los Angeles
judge denied his request to end his supervised probation
early for good behavior. But by Sunday, he was all over
the Grammys - performing in not one but two frantic
numbers and snagging the prize for best R&B album.

The most demoralizing thing about Brown's triumph -
sadder, even, than his bat-winged backup dancers - was
the way in which it set off a grotesque array of
supportive, "go ahead and hit me" responses on the
Internet. Perhaps inspired by Brown's track record,
Buzzfeed quickly slapped something up - a collection of
tweets and Facebook updates from viewers who declared
they'd be happy to let Chris Brown beat them to a pulp.
A banner night for Brown - a Grammy and a deluge of
offers to "punch me in the face."

You can't judge a civilization on the dumb comments
people leave on Twitter and TMZ. But you can wonder what
would happen if we valued each other enough to start
from a place where no one "deserves" or invites abuse.
As Roxane Gay eloquently explained in The Rumpus, "We
fail you every single time a (famous) man treats a woman
badly, without legal, professional or personal
consequence." And the failure isn't just in the relative
ease with which the Violence Against Women Act can be
brushed aside or a girlfriend beater can win music's
highest honors. The failure is renewed every time we
shame and blame women based on how they dress or what
they do for a living, or romanticize assault as
something to be patched up or playfully pleaded for. The
failure is whenever we decide that violence is a
legislative inconvenience or a joke. The failure isn't
just at the end of a man's fist. It's in the culture
that condones him.

___________________________________________

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