Charlie Sheen: Celebrating a Bad-Boy Who Abuses Women
Posted by BroadBlogs
Charlie Sheen got fired. Until now he seemed to be rewarded more than punished for bad behavior, including a history of violence against women: He shot a fiancée in the arm, he hit a woman who wouldn’t have sex with him, he was arrested for beating a girlfriend, a porn star locked herself in a hotel bathroom as he went berserk, two of the women he married filed restraining orders against him after he issued death threats.
But right now I’m less concerned with Charlie’s behavior than with our own. Why did this abuse bring him greater celebrity than shame?
As Jezebel founder Anna Holmes pointed out in a New York Times piece, offense at abuse depends on the sort of women abused. Porn stars, prostitutes and suspected gold digging wives aren’t sympathetic.
But sometimes violence against women just doesn’t seem like a big deal. Eminem had a huge hit and huge accolades for “Love the Way You Lie,” which highlighted Rihanna singing “I like the way it hurts” as Eminem chanted, “It’s like I’m in flight, High of a love, Drunk from the hate,” while Megan Fox got beaten up in the accompanying video. The song garnered critical acclaim, including Grammy nominations for Song of the Year and Record of the Year. In fact, going into Grammy night, he led with ten nominations, including Album of the Year. No one seemed too bothered about eroticized abuse.
Oscar felt pretty hip awarding “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” a few years back. Isn’t “owning,” degrading and beating women all part of the pimping life? But hey, it’s all good, as they say.
Or, Super Bowl audiences sat shocked when Justin Timberlake ripped off Janet Jackson’s bodice, revealing a bare nipple. Few cared that choreographed “slapping around” led to the grabbing and ripping. Abusing women is acceptable. But nudity is horrifying.
Then there’s Smack a Slut Week which runs October 3rd – 7th, and can be celebrated “anywhere you like, by, you guessed it, smackin’ sluts,” as The F-Bomb put it. Just a joke? One study found that men discriminated against women more after hearing sexist jokes.
Even the red hat from Devo’s “Whip It” video, depicting a man whipping the clothes off a female mannequin, is now a part of the Smithsonian collection. Accepted, mainstream stuff.
I won’t even get into the eroticized violence so often depicting women freshly killed in high fashion ads.
My first cue that Charlie had a sadistic streak was a news report that he alerted police to a “snuff” film in which a killing that followed sex looked a bit too real to him. Now, he seems to get off on harming women in real life.
Meanwhile, the rest of us stand by, barely noticing. Or celebrating Sheen’s behavior. He’s a bad boy. It’s a lot of fun, and no big deal.
About BroadBlogsI 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 March 9, 2011, in feminism, gender, objectification, psychology, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged Charlie Sheen, culture, Devo, domestic violence, Eminem, feminism, gender, Megan Fox, objectification, pop culture, psychology, Rihanna, sexism, sexual objectification, Smack a Slut Week, Smithsonian, social psychology, violence against women, Whip It, women. Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.