Woman = Victim? It’s a hard habit to break.

6 Feb



So yesterday afternoon, I was out for a walk, listening to a new album I downloaded onto my iPhone and a song came on that I thought was very pretty.  Nice beat, lovely lyrics and above average vocals.  The man singing had a very soulful, smooth voice and I pulled my phone out of pocket to see who this undeniably compelling singer could be.




Chris Brown.



You know who that is, right?  He’s the guy who did this to Rihanna’s face.




My initial reaction was to feel disgusted that I had inadvertently given that dickbag money, but then I got to thinking.  Why am I boycotting Chris?  I wrote before that I think a lot of the opprobrium and scorn Chris has earned for his unquestionably violent attack on Rhianna is motivated by racism.  People who give Sean Penn or Mickey Rourke a pass for beating the shit out of their wives/girlfriends, but NOT Chris Brown are probably just reacting to a cultural trope that loves to paint black men as animals.




I kept walking and started to unpack my assumptions and then it hit me:  I’m engaging in exactly the same thought processes that I rail against daily on this blog!


JudgyBitch:  giant hypocrite!


Hey, life’s a learning curve.  What can I say?




My hatred of Chris Brown is first and foremost a visceral reaction to the fact that he beat Rhianna so badly.  I want to kill him for that, which makes perfect sense, right?  I object to violence and my first reaction is to go Reservoir Dogs on his ass.  But underneath that are a couple of assumptions that are not justifiable and play into the kinds of stereotypes that do more harm to women than good.


My first assumption:  that Rihanna is completely innocent in all of this.




I mean, look at her. She’s so beautiful and slender and small and how could she possibly be an accomplice to her own destruction?  How?  Oh, rather easily.  The reality is that domestic violence is perpetrated EQUALLY by both men and women.




Did Rhianna provoke her attack?  Did she throw the first punch?  Was she a full participant in the altercation?  I don’t know.  But the automatic assumption that she is a completely innocent victim denies that women are just as violent as men. That perpetuates the idea that women are innocent and men are evil and that is just the kind of thinking that permeates the culture and makes it acceptable to express an open hatred and disdain for men.


How thoughtful of me to help spread that ideology.





Erin Pizzey, who founded the first shelter for female victims of domestic violence in the US has a good deal to say on the subject of violent women, and her writings at A voice for Men are well worth a read, especially if you find yourself, as I did, axiomatically buying into the idea that women are always the victims and men are always the abusers.




My second assumption is that Rhianna is incapable of understanding her decisions and that going back to Chris Brown is a cry for help and we must all intervene to protect her from this violent predator who is certain to hurt her again.




This particular assumption is one that is incredibly damaging to women. Rhianna is a grown woman with agency and intelligence and responsibility.  EITHER she is an adult fully capable of understanding the consequences of her decisions OR she is a helpless child who needs an authority figure to intervene in her life and make decisions for her and protect her from the consequences of her actions.




You can’t have it both ways.  Are women adults with responsibilities and obligations, including the obligation to face the consequences of their decisions?  I certainly think they are.


It’s hard to throw off the idea that women ought to be protected from their own bad decisions.  A natural instinct to protect and shelter, especially when a woman is beautiful, kicks in and it takes a conscious effort to stop and reconsider how we feel.  Rhianna does not need our protection.  She needs to be held accountable for her decisions and face the consequences and in doing so, she will learn and grow.


That’s how life works.  You make a choice, that choice ends up being really stupid, you learn from that, try to make better choices, and you carry on.  You don’t look around for someone to blame.  That someone is YOU.


I made a choice to boycott Chris Brown, it turns out that in doing so I am helping to perpetuate the very ideology for which I have nothing but withering contempt, I spent some time thinking about that decision and today I am going to download and pay for ONE Chris Brown song.


Baby steps.




Here’s your money, Chris.  I still hate you, but I refuse to hold you accountable and give Rhianna a pass.  Now that’s equality.


Lots of love,







15 Responses to “Woman = Victim? It’s a hard habit to break.”

  1. Dean Esmay February 6, 2013 at 15:02 #

    Hidden in most of the press reports is that there is substantial documentation that Rihanna is, or has been, in the habit of hitting Chris. Numerous reports say that when he’s beat her up, it’s been retaliatory.

    There are studies which show that in up to 70% of cases, when a man hits a woman, it started because she started hitting him first. And well of course you know what is likely to happen when the man hits back. But this sort of provoking behavior, it is The Great Unmentionable, people scream in your face that you’re saying “women who get hit are asking for it!” when that’s not what you’re saying at all, but rather, if you hit your man over and over and over again and he finally loses it and decks you, well, what the fuck would you call that? “Asking for it?” Not exactly, but it’s pretty fucked up–and moreover, it’s common. As I said, there is evidence that in domestic violence situations, UP TO 70% OF THE TIME THE WOMAN STARTED THE VIOLENCE, the man just finished it.

    This also gets us back to the fact that most of the evidence points to a harsh reality: at least half if not most domestic abuse is MUTUAL. And we cannot start talking about or addressing this problem like adults until we just admit that this is common, and that the “poor little girl getting beat on by the big bad man” is NOT the norm–yes, it DOES happen that way but what’s more typical is you’ve got two fucked up people engaged in fucked up behavior.

    Yes JB, there is a lot of evidence Rihanna has, at least historically, been in the habit of hitting first. Here’s a start on that:


    Now as I see it, there are two ways to look at this. This is either a really sad case of two deeply dysfunctional people deciding to stay in a mutually abusive relationship–OR, what I would hope is true, what may be true, is that Rihanna herself is owning her behavior, as an adult, and instead of blaming Chris for everything, and he blaming her for everything, they are getting counseling and working TOGETHER on their issues becuase they do love each other and they both believe they need help TOGETHER.

    That’s a kind of healing that I think is possible, and if it’s what’s happening I frankly commend them both for it. IF that’s what they’re doing. (If what they’re doing is just staying in a mutually codependent relationship of abuse, then that’s sad.)


  2. Erudite Knight February 6, 2013 at 16:29 #

    Only if about 10,000X more women learned this, then maybe America would be a friendlier place.
    Thanks for spreading the truth in the way you are.


  3. judgybitch February 6, 2013 at 16:31 #

    It’s a tough challenge to undo that kind of thinking. I’m pretty aware, but even so, I had to think carefully before I could figure out that I was actually engaging in the same kind of bullshit thinking that I call people out for!

    Free your mind.

    Your ass will follow.


  4. TempestTcup February 6, 2013 at 16:38 #

    My SIL was beaten badly by her boyfriend a few years ago & I always completely 100% blamed the boyfriend until one day I ran into her ex-husband at happy hour. He explained that he divorced her because she used to beat the crap out of him in public. He said he could handle it in private, but the screaming punching fits in public were too much. Needless to say, I only blame the boyfriend about 25% now. Maybe not at all. Hell, I don’t know or really care anymore, truth be told. Some bitches be cray cray.


  5. happycrow February 6, 2013 at 16:58 #

    It’s something that has to be nipped in the bud, and early. My wife tried it once while we were engaged and living together. I didn’t hit back (and I didn’t get hit, actually, I’m good in a hand-fight), but I *did* use just enough force to sit her down on the couch and let her know that this was a choice that would get her entirely undesired results. After that, it’s never been an issue again.


  6. judgybitch February 6, 2013 at 17:05 #

    Oh wow.

    I can’t even imagine hitting Mr. JB. He’s 6’2 and 200 lbs. That wouldn’t go well.

    I guess growing up with three brothers, I have never had any illusions about what happens when you hit a man.

    Do these women just take it for granted that you won’t fight back, or do they think they have a shot?


  7. happycrow February 6, 2013 at 18:16 #

    My wife is generally awesome and if anything is usually too *submissive* by half — I am constantly digging to make sure she gets what she wants rather than what she’ll merely settle for. In her case and at least some others, I honestly don’t believe it’s premeditated at all, but rather that it’s simply a case of lashing out. Those who get away with it “learn the wrong lesson,” and it then becomes a recurring pattern/problem.

    I also have a longstanding history of beating the shit out of women — in training. And in places where I’ve trained I am usually VERY popular with the ladies because while I’m not an asshole about it, I will “bring it” so they get a real test of their abilities rather than the half-assed job most guys do boxing and sparring with women. But there’s still some hardwired “Back-off” even for me: I will deck a girl if she’s got a bad guard (that’s how you learn to keep a good guard boxing or fighting — by having your opponent punish your mistakes), but have a VERY hard time applying all my strength in wrestling, for instance — I can’t even win a tickle-fight. I’d be a TERRIBLE rapist. :p


  8. Dean Esmay February 6, 2013 at 18:37 #

    When a woman initiates violence (which there’s evidence they do more often than the other way around), there’s usually 3 motivations:

    1) She’s just plain batshit crazy out of control at the moment
    2) She’s confident he will never hit her back no matter what
    3) She WANTS him to hit her because that makes her the victim and his remorse and fear at having done so puts her in control.

    Saying #3 will get people screaming blue in the face angry with you, and they will say all sorts of horrible things about “blaming the victim.” But note that I just said this is one of the reasons some women initiate violence. If we can’t discuss this like adults and admit that with some women, “I got him to hit me because if I got him to do that, it meant I won” is a real thing.

    I’ve never struck a woman, but I have witnessed this behavior. I won’t go into when and where, but I’ve witnessed it first hand, of the “Go on and hit me, I dare you you fucking coward” variety.

    If we don’t start treating violence like something involving adults, and not male (adult) versus female (perpetual toddler) we can’t help people who need it.


  9. nomisandry February 6, 2013 at 19:14 #

    Judge Bitchy, you have no idea how right you are about way we should look further into the whole story instead of what we are usually fed from news tainted with ideological (man always aggressor & woman always victim) dogma or narrative, I only wish the full detailed police report had been released, anyway what would you say if I told you that the whole incident was prompted over her finding text msgs & the phone number of received call’s & some unanswered phone calls of another girl which Rihanna perceives as a rival of her for Chris’s attention & affection! ! !! She was looking at the history on his cell phone while he was driving because he received a call & couldn’t answer it while he was driving, he handed it to her since it’s a mutual friend that was calling at the time, after the call ended and she hang up, the phone was open for her to snoop around & that’s when she seen her rival’s (text msgs & number) , guess what she did after, ??? She took of her stiletto shoes & started hitting him over the head with pointed steel heel part plus throwing full force punches while he is driving !!! In which he asked her to stop hitting him at the same time trying to restrain her or stop her from hitting him with one hand mind you, which is the same hand (right) which he punched her with & did most of the damage you see on her face as a matter of fact when he went to court one of the defense angles when asked to explain hitting her in the face was that fact Miss.

    At No time do I say it’s okay to beat up on anyone (man or women) when they are weaker then you or me, but guess what if it’s self-defense then all bets are off.


  10. Liz February 7, 2013 at 00:45 #

    Hm. Well, I don’t see the inconsistency, JB. I don’t remember you claiming Stifler (or whatever his name is) might not have been innocent in the altercation when his girlfriend cut his face.

    One person is battered badly (this isn’t just a shiner) and it’s reasonable to react viscerally to the image of a badly injured person, I think. She is stupid for going back to a person who beat her like that. You can’t fix stupid, and she’s making her bed by her choice (and he is too if she beats him in kind and he takes her back, but thus far I haven’t heard about his trips to the hospital for similar injuries sustained). I’m not going to worry about it, but if you wish to stand on principle and not support Brown I don’t think that’s a hypocritical stance. On the other hand, if you like his music but don’t want to boycott that too is not hypocritical.

    Fwiw, the best way to avoid ever being accused of being a hypocrite is to have no standards. I don’t boycott any music artists if I like the songs (I’m not into either Brown or Rihanna), but the list of actors I boycott is long. Anyone who has made a reality show is off my list, Mel Gibson=no. Sean Penn=no. Brad Pitt or anyone else on the cover of tabloids every single week=no. Nothing from Michael Moore. Ect.


  11. judgybitch February 7, 2013 at 00:50 #

    “the best way to avoid being a hypocrite is to have no standards”.


    From what I can tell, they are two fucked up little kids with too much fame and too much money and they deserve each other, but damn if they can’t rip a beat.

    I’m dancing.

    Let them beat the shit out of each other.

    “Ball so hard, this shit is crazy”

    I got me some Jay-Z to kill the pain.


  12. Mike Hunter February 7, 2013 at 05:23 #

    They take it for granted that the man won’t fight back. Or they’re just too impulsive to help themselves. I’m a 6′ 2″ 210 lb amature wrestler myself. My ex used to get drunk and: punch, slap, pinch, hit me all of the time.

    I could have destroyed her, but; she knew I wouldn’t. All it would take from her is one call to the police, and for all intents and purposes I would be cut out of my son’s life forever. She “accidentally” got pregnant, because she “forgot” to tell me she stopped taking birth control.

    Once our son came along her substance abuse & anger issues really started show themselves. But by that time I was trapped. I worked two jobs to support her as well as my son, and went to school full time. In return I got to come home to a screaming harpy everyday; who refused to cook or clean because: “I’m not your mother. My job is to watch your son not clean up after you.”

    I used that time to finish college, and collect evidence that she was a: unstable, selfish, abusive, bitch with a drinking problem and wound up getting primary custody of our son. Despite the fact that she threatened to file a false domestic violence complaint against me to get me out of the house. I’d never laid a finger on her the entire time I’d known her.

    Oh well. Live and learn. Needless to say I rubber up now every time I have sex.


  13. Bob Wallace February 25, 2013 at 16:54 #

    I walked into a friend’s house once and found his married sister sitting on the couch with two minor black eyes. It turned out her husband called off work because he had the flu. She demanded he get up and began beating him with a pillow. After about the tenth time he jumped up and hit her. The guy is 6’4″ but only 175 lbs but he has fists the size of softballs, which means he barely hit her at all.

    I didn’t feel sorry for her in the slightest, as did neither her brother, or father, or mother.


  14. Gael Nguyen (@gpork) May 3, 2013 at 00:16 #

    One correction. Erin Pizzey founded the first shelter in the UK, not the US.

    You can still hate on Chris Brown and be consistent by leveling that same standard to others that do the same. That means also feeling disgusted by Mickey Rourke and Sean Penn when they show up on TV.

    The opposite effect also occurs on shows like Nancy Grace. She always features a “missing white woman” but black victims are virtually ignored even though it occurs at a higher rate. As if only white women should be getting our collective sympathy.


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