Apparently, Mel Gibson isn’t the only one who feels that his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva “f—ing deserved it” when he hit her. Here’s one guys remark on the matter, posted to the MTV website: “Damn, it is going to be a pleasure to finally see oksana in prison. The ***** is a natural for it! If she pays attention, the inmates there will give her, her final training in how to be an effective porn star. Ah just luvly, the world is unfolding as it should, obviously!”
Written for shock value? Wouldn’t surprise me. But the comment reminded me that now and again a student of mine will defend a batterer when we discuss domestic violence in the Psychology of Women course that I teach.
When the subject of Chris Brown was brought up one day, a student I’ll call Ed opined, “Well, Rihanna deserved it.”
I asked what made him think so.
“He told her to get in the car like four times, but she wouldn’t do it.”
To which I responded, “Four times? Oh, now I totally get it.”
“Well, maybe it was five or six times.”
Tapping my forehead with the palm of my hand, I exclaimed, “So Chris Brown beat Rihanna until she was bloody because she wouldn’t get in the car. Oh, now it all makes sense to me. Thanks for explaining!” Sarcasm in the classroom may not be a recommended method, but he did get the point – after a while.
Continuing I asked whether he would beat his dog or his child bloody if either of them refused to get in a car after being asked five times. No?
Turning to the broader context I added, “From what I understand Rihanna had discovered that a young woman had offered herself up for a booty call via text message, so she was pretty upset. Do you think someone would be more upset that their companion wouldn’t get in a car – after being asked five times – or if they learned their lover planned a sexual tryst with someone else later that evening?”
”And, why should Rihanna get in the car just because Chris told her to?”
While most of my students got the point, Ed didn’t until I asked, “What if the situation had been reversed? What if Chris Brown had discovered that Rihanna was expecting loving from someone else that night? How do you think he’d react?”
Another student gave a quick glance before shouting out, “Probably the same way – by beating her.”
Was Ed speaking in jest, like the MTV commenter cited above? Sadly, my sense is that even in this day in age, some young people still feel it makes sense for men to “discipline” women, and that women sometimes deserve to be hit.