Batterers Brag

I was out of town when Chris Brown unveiled his neck tattoo of a battered woman, possibly Rihanna, but now I’m back and I have to comment.

Strange that Brown would brand himself with a battered Rihanna for all the world to see. And if it’s not Rihanna, why sport an image that will remind everyone of the pummeling?

Publicity seeking seems likely.

Still, you have to wonder why shame doesn’t stop him.

Apparently Chris Brown is not alone in feeling no shame. Sean Connery and others feel that it is “absolutely right” to slap a woman. Televangelist, Pat Robertson, advised one man to beat his wife into submission – even if he had to move to Saudi Arabia to legally do it. To these Neanderthals, beating women is all part of being a real man (or caveman).

Amanda Marcotte over at Pandagon sees it as a batterer’s brag:

There’s a myth that men who beat and rape women just “lose control” and that after they act out, they sit around stewing in shame. That is because this is what these men tell people they are trying to ingratiate themselves with, in order to gain their acceptance and forgiveness. But inside, as many victims who have seen their true face can tell you, they are defiant. They believe they are entitled to dominate women, and they feel victimized by a world that doesn’t give them what they believe is theirs. They act out, looking for little ways to assert the right to dominate [what] they believe is theirs.

Marcotte cites research from psychologist David Lisak, who found that certain men will happily tell stories about successful sexual assaults. Joanna Schroeder over at The Good Men Project feels the analysis rings true:

The batterers I’ve known have betrayed a certain pride over the pain they cause their partner. They want their partner to keep the abuse a secret, but they themselves say things like “Jodi knows better than to look twice at another guy” while making a punching motion with their hands. It’s always under the guise of being a joke, but it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you already know or suspect that the guy is abusing his wife. One man I knew who was a batterer would threaten to rape his wife, seemingly joking, in front of almost anyone. Turned out he had been raping her for almost as long as they were married.

If you see yourself as righting the scales of justice — punishing those who have “hurt you,” and returning gender to its rightful order, with men on top — I guess bragging makes sense.

Marcotte continues:

…telling others about it and watching them recoil basically means reliving the power trip… Not only did they dominate the victim, but they have provoked anger and disgust in you, and that makes them feel powerful all over again.

Growing up, Brown was tormented by watching his stepdad beat his mom. That childhood horror and helplessness seem to have deeply scared him. Too bad he hasn’t dealt with his issues in therapy and focused his power in positive ways – in real ways – because how much power does this guy really get from beating his girlfriend?

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on October 12, 2012, in feminism, men, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. My first husband was an abuser. First it was mental abuse, then when that quit working, it turned into physical abuse. I left after the first time he beat me. I was NOT going to put up with that crap from any man. He still brags about the control he had over me. It makes me sick, and his brothers just roll their eyes. Why don’t people, especially other men, stop men like this? I don’t understand this. Are they afraid of men that beat women? Does that make the beater unstable in their eyes, and therefore they can’t predict what an unstable man will do?

    • Unless they’re so sexist that they don’t have a problem with battering, I can only image that a fear of the batterer makes some sense.

      • That’s the only thing that let’s me wrap my head around it…that other guys could be afraid of a batterer also. Because otherwise, it means we live in a world where men don’t really care about women, other than what women can provide them.

      • Now I’m recalling things I’ve read of men witnessing violence against women, or men. They often don’t intervene out of fear. The fear is often about rejection or fear of being bullied themselves. They justify their non-action by feeling like THEY didn’t do the harm, so they aren’t at fault.

        Women can behave the same way in the face of another woman bullying others.

        Those who intervene are often those who’ve been bullied or abused themselves and have learned more empathy from the experience. Though that is no guarantee. Others who’ve been bullied turn around and bully others to feel powerful for a change.

  2. Like isn’t really the right thing to say about an article like this. I sometimes wish that these men would have to face the inside of their minds just to get a feeling of what is inside. I don’t get battering. I really don’t. It is the same with child abuse. I have never understood why an adult feels the need to hit someone weaker than themselves. I get it on an intellectual level, but I do not understand it. Humanity is a strange landscape to live in.

  3. Wow. The comments under the Sean Connery video are chilling.

  4. I feel sick.

  5. I used to like Sean Connery…until I found out (in this article) that he thinks its ok to slap a woman. There are many men who feel the same as he does and that is evidenced by the comments under the video! Makes me want to stay alone for the rest of my life!

    • Me too.

      Then I remember that not all men are like this — with the warning that some are.

      • Very true, and wisdom to live by! My last husband didn’t abuse me, but he didn’t stand up for me either…even with our kids when they got smart with me (both are boys). I think that sends a loud message also and continues the cycle among men.

  6. You know, that’s as bad as those a-holes sporting teardrop tattoos to show off their kill counts. Grr. I have other very colorful things I’d like to say, but I’ll refrain.

  7. my mom used to get abused by my dad long time ago (not together anymore). Goes out get drunk come back home and start some bullshit! Even when my mom was pregnant with me he hit her on the stomach just cause he didn’t have his ways. Just the thought of seeing my mom go through the pain hurts me too.NO! MAN SHOULD FEEL LIKE A MAN WHEN THEY LAY A HAND ON A WOMAN ESPECIALLY IF ITS SOMEONE YOU LOVE!
    . So therefore, SEAN CONNERY, to me you are not “A REAL MAN’!!
    and to the men that don’t RESPECT TO YOU!

  8. Wow, Chris Brown needs to get Therapy really badly. I heard how he tried to explain his tattoo as being a symbol for a “sugar skull.” I have never seen a sugar skull that closely resembles his tattoo at all. Before the tattoo artist engraves the tattoo there is usually a sketch of how it will look like. He should’ve known it would cause controversy. Maybe he did know that it would cause such controversy, who knows? It seems like he has never trully dealt with his problems and it is about time he does before his actions get any worse. It is common for someone who has a history of violence to repeat that violence again and again. So, if Chris Brown doesn’t get the help required it is very likely he could repeat what he did to Rihanna again to her or someone else. I think his tattoo was down right stupid.

  9. Alexander Ghanma

    This is absolutely foul! I can not believe that Chris Brown is displaying and supporting something so disgusting. I find it interesting that a huge majority of his songs have to do with being in love or how lovely a “certain” women is/was. This was obviously a publicity stunt. After all the negative allegations and rumors against Chris Brown, he began to fade to black while Rihanna continued to move up in the lime light. He most likely noticed this and had to do something so disgusting to get the attention that was not being given to him. Sadly, it’s working. I heard about this on the radio the other day and the radio talk show hosts talk about this matter as if it were a joke. Chris Brown is widely known in the music industry and also targets a wide variety of age groups including early teens. If he is indirectly saying that it’s okay to beat women to his younger audience, he is teaching them that in their future it’ll be fine to be the hell out of women when they are older. After this stunt that this jerk has pulled, he should be exiled from the music industry before he corrupts the minds of anymore people.

  10. I would really like to think that Chris Brown’s tattoo was not intended to brag about his violence, or to relive his power trip. Normally tattoos have a deeper meaning, and I would like to believe that this is what this. However, the more that I think about it and look at the tattoo, it is sick, it is ugly. There is nothing that would justify that image. It seems like this the tattoo is a way for him to show off his toughness. How? Well he beat a woman, so that probably makes him feel tough and like he is a real man. That is especially a bad thing because he is in the media and a lot of young boys are paying attention to him. There is no way that is helping our society.

  11. Men who abuse women have something wrong with them to begin with. I did a yearlong research paper on abusive men, and what I found was there is something that is leading the men to do this. In Chris Brown’s case, it could be that he was raised in an abusive household, so he may think he should hurt women, even if he knows it is wrong. What I don’t understand though is why he would publically apologize for what he did to Rihanna, and then get this tattooed on him. I have to agree with what Susan wrote before me, my only thought on this could be he wants people to know that he isn’t afraid to show that that was part of his life he cant take away. I don’t agree with this because abusing women should not be something you want to brand yourself as, or brag about. There is nothing flattering or amusing by this tattoo. If I ever saw a guy with a tattoo that looked like that, I don’t think I could ever be in a relationship with him, I’d be too afraid that he might be abusive.

  12. I think it’s quite pathetic for a man to hit a woman; there shouldn’t be any circumstance where it would be okay to hit a woman. I also don’t think that justifying his actions by bringing up his childhood is quite irrelevant and should never excuse such behavior. Just like the article says, “Too bad he hasn’t dealt with his issues in therapy and focused his power in positive ways.” I’m sure if he did talk and deal with his issues he would have been able to work through their issues and possibly even fruited a great romance story.
    As far as the article stating that his tattoo is of the image of a battered Rihanna, I think it’s grossly wrong! There are similarities the tat has with Rihanna’s face but I believe they are purely coincidental! I know many individuals with tattooed images of women on their body who if placed against the picture of just about any attractive woman (let’s say a recent ex) would also have some uncanny similarities! If it was a portrait that started out as Rihanna and morphed into something a little different, let it be. Does it really matter over the main issue that should be discussed here? Seriously! The things and ideas that the media puts into our viewers heads to gain interest in their articles are absurd and ridiculous and make me sick!
    -Sefra

  13. First of all there is no way that it is acceptable to put your hands on anyone , that means women should not put their hands on a man, and men should not put their hands on women. I just feel like everyone is ganging up on Chris Brown and no one is looking at Riahana. For example, when the altercation happened between them she did not want to press charges on Chris. Second of all I did not hear anyone complaining when Riahana made that song called S&M talking about chains and whips excite her. People should sit back and analize what she is singing about. Bottom line she needs as much counseling as Chris Brown because just a week ago she was coming out a public bathroom with MR.BROWN. Did anyone take that in to consideration.

  14. I find his behavior beyond pathetic, clearly showcasing that he feels no remorse whatsoever and whatever insincere apology he previously has spoken was out of obligation. He is completely degrading his image (hopefully in most people’s eyes!), by going to desperate measures to provoke some kind of attention from the public. Anyone who actually perceives him as “tough” similarly does not deserve any respect. I am now able to view stories like this and relate them to the overarching theme of male desire to preserve a system of power and dominance in our society. I have yet to determine my opinion on exactly how widespread and in what direction things are going, but your instruction has been an eye-opening experience! I enjoy the array of research and evidence you provide to justify your viewpoints.

    • Holding power over others, as a motivating force, tends to be related to how patriarchal a man is, and tends to be related to how disempowered he feels. Being self-empowered, on the other hand, is a healthy human way of being, and tends to lessen the urge to be a tyrant.

  15. Any man that is sporting a tatoo of what he did to someone is very proud of his action. I truley believe that Chris Brown’s tatoo is a way to say that he is proud of what he did and that he is still getting publicity for it makes me sick. It is like he is still abusing this girl and mocking her in public. His lack of respect for others and especially her is at the very root of the abuse problem. He needs help. Unfortunatlly, I heard a statistic that when an abuser gets help and gos thru a 52 week program to end abuse, the sucsess rate is only 5%. What that tells me is that it is a state of mind for the abuser. He feels that because he is a male that women are put here to be subservant to all men. Whatever he wants, he gets….she should only want to please him and his needs. So wrong…

  16. It is never okay to put your hands on someone. I hope people stand up for each other when these things happen.

  17. Sehyeon (Sam) Park

    When I was a member of military police in my home country, I’ve seen many man beating their wives. I was shocked how many woman are going through abuse of husband. And even more surprisingly woman were not afraid of husband, they were afraid of getting divorce and lose their child, or will not be able to get on with their life. Most of the woman were housewives who raises children, so that they are dependent on husband. My point is I was sick how wife beating husbands are so confident that they are doing such a thing. Because they are making money for the family, and knows that their wives can’t make money if she wants a divorce. I was shocked how many women were suffering from beating and could not report to police, afraid that they are going to lose their child and have no job to support even if they can keep their child.
    Ever since I was a little kid my father would always tell me how I should protect woman because woman are physically weaker than man. I only got a little to say to those who beat up woman. Find a better thing to do! Find something productive that you can brag about. I totally agree with last sentence of the article, ‘how much power does this guy really get from beating his girlfriend?’ seriously.

  18. I don’t know that I agree with Amanda Marcotte’s reasoning as to the motive for Chris Brown sporting a new neck tattoo of a battered woman. Doing it for bragging rights seems to be something that would require premeditation and a conscious thought process and that is giving Mr. Brown far too much credit. I think at best he s ignorant, callous and thoughtless. I also think the real publicity stunt was when he made his public apology right after the incident. It seems if he were sorry and believed what he did was wrong he wouldn’t be sporting a neck tattoo with the face of a woman with a blackened eye for the world to see. I find his behavior disgusting and I agree with Alexander he should be exiled from the music industry.

  19. I can’t believe Chris Brown would get a tattoo like this. It’s absurd. I hope his tattoo doesn’t symbolize violence. I’ve also heard that the design is of a skull associated with the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead. I’m not going to lie, I am a fan of his music but when does idiotic things like this, I don’t respect him at all. I lost my respect for him the day he abused Rihanna. No one should ever tolerate physical abuse or mental abuse. His actions are pathetic.

  20. I find that a lot of people are against men battering women, but they don’t see anything wrong with women lashing out at men. Unless of course self defense comes into play, neither sex should be hitting each other at all, especially if we want to see equality progress. Fortunately, I have not experienced physical abuse from either male or female nor have I put someone through that (except sibling rivalry), but I just know I could not bring myself to stay with them. Abuse is beyond disrespectful and inhumane in my eyes.

    • I guess abuse against women is much more visible, and even more common. Rihanna goes to the hospital, beaten to a pulp. I’m not aware of any male celebrities who have done the same thing. Yet if any males had, I’m sure it would’ve made the papers.

  21. I remember seeing my father physically abuse my mother at a very small age. At that time I began to pick up his violence and started hitting people with my toys, bossing my classmates and yelling out when I didn’t get my way, It wasn’t until after the divorce and saw less of my father’s action when my anger started to simmer down. I think in Chris Brown’s case he grew up with a abusive family and did as his father did but in any case it is never okay to hit a women! To be remembered for abusing his girlfriend and gets a tattoo like that…? I see it as someone who wants attention and maybe wants to remind people that he still has the upper hand by showing that he is daring enough to ink his neck with an abused face of a women. Such a shame.

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