Monday, December 7, 2009

Why is domestic violence against men funny?

As a kid, I grew up hearing the following song-spoof:

Rudolph the Bow-Legged Cowboy
Had a very shiny gun
And if you ever saw it
You would turn around and run

All of the other cowboys
Used to laugh and call him names
They wouldn't let poor Rudolph
Join in any Cowboy games

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say
Rudolph with your gun so bright
Won't you shoot my wife tonight?
And this was considered funny. Kids in Ohio used to jump rope to it at Christmastime, if the ice wasn't too heavy.

I cannot hear the holiday song "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer"--without thinking of it.

Danny has rightly pointed out that the current jokey-joke over Tiger Woods getting clobbered by the missus, is not cool. (In fairness: I owe the guys over at Feminist Critics one, for pointing this out to me.)

We now jokey-joke over men getting beaten up by women, the way we used to joke about women getting beaten up by men. It is understood, on some level, that he "deserves" it. If a man is cheating, he is considered by many to be fair game.

However, we can assume that many women-victims of domestic violence have been cheating also... and this would not be acceptable as an excuse for a beating, even if she was.

In addition: The prejudicial concept that "men are stronger" is rendered meaningless, when we are talking about women using weapons like golf clubs that serve to "equalize" us in physical disputes. The recent Saturday Night Live skit managed to be simultaneously misogynist and jokey-joke about domestic violence against men. However, it is also notable that it might be the first time I've seen any acknowledgment from the mass media that a man might actually be physically afraid of his wife.

I realized my own perspective had radically changed when I saw this again (caution, may trigger, etc):

Barbara Bain on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1963)



I hadn't seen this sitcom episode since childhood, and remembered it as patently hilarious slapstick (at which Dick Van Dyke always excelled admirably).

Now? No.

In fact, I was alarmed at how Barbara Bain's total viciousness is played for laughs. (In many ways, this is also misogynist, of course, portraying her as vengeful harpy.)

Your thoughts on domestic violence against men? Will we ever find it UNfunny?

7 comments:

Rachel said...

Why is it funny?

Well, I always thought it was something people joked about, because a woman can't *seriously* hurt a dude, I mean obviously...she's a weak little woman, and he's a strapping man. He could stop her if he weren't a gentleman and make her sorry that she annoyed him with inefficient slaps, punches, etc. The only problem with that is, well, some people are stronger than others, and some people are male; some are female. Strong man/weak woman is not as "true" as our general culture would say it is. So, yeah...finding violence against men is sexist against women, because it presupposes that a woman cannot do damage to a man for the mere fact that she is a woman. Men, on the other hand, they are powerful, it would take nothing for them to break a weak little woman. that's not something you joke about these days unless you're a misogynist asshole, and an "out" one, at that. The irony is that you're STILL a misogynist asshole if you laugh only at women's violence toward men.

PS...that "shoot my wife tonight" thing; I had heard that line, but didn't know there was a whole separate parody that it comes from. What a bad association to have with Rudolph... :(

Miss Dove said...

Daisy, remember all those old Andy Capp comics where Flo hit him w/rolling pins or pots and pans?

Like in this Andy Capp Museum foto - Flo appears ready to wham him once again.

But I think wifely domestic violence is becoming less acceptable too, however slowly.

Danny said...

Thanks for the shoutout Daisy. And while I don't watch SNL anymore I knew they would have something ready for it. Domestic violence against men being presented as funny is one of the oldest examples of misandry.

Along with what Rachel says not only is there the belief that a woman can't seriously harm a man to make it worse in the event that she does do serious harm the male victim falls back on his upbringing of internalizing the pain and not show it. This holds true even if said male was harmed by another male.

And all it took was a celebrity...

sheila said...

It's all fun and games til someone loses an eye.

Okay...seriously though. Tiger? I think the jokes with him stem from him presenting himself in a totally virtuous light. Not that the jokes are okay then...but I'm not sure that the jokes are meant to make fun of the violence but rather the situation.

Does that make sense? Or does it only make sense in my head?

I DO remember that Christmas song. I didn't like it then either.

I don't condone the jokes on Tiger. But you'd have to admit...if your hubby did it...some such scenario may go through your mind. AND if he were a world famous golfer? AND you used a club to get your point across? It might be alittle ironic. Dontcha think?

(that was just alittle Alanis I threw in)

Danny said...

Okay...seriously though. Tiger? I think the jokes with him stem from him presenting himself in a totally virtuous light. Not that the jokes are okay then...but I'm not sure that the jokes are meant to make fun of the violence but rather the situation.
I have to disagree with that if for no other reason that for years all sorts of men and male characters from all walks of life get the same reaction when violence is done to them, its funny. Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin are by no means virtuous men but when they get hurt whats the first thing people do (regardless of why they got hurt)?


But you'd have to admit...if your hubby did it...some such scenario may go through your mind. AND if he were a world famous golfer? AND you used a club to get your point across? It might be alittle ironic. Dontcha think?

I can understand her being angry. I can understand her putting his adulterous business in the air. I can even understand if she took the kids, the houses, the cars, boats, trophies, jackets, etc... and only left him with the right to remain silent. But there are a lot of abusive men who justify their violence by accusing their wives of adultery...

jovan b. said...

I find violence against men 100% UNFUNNY. Violence against men is a very serious issue.

In 1995, approx. 2% of all men were abused by a female intimate partner. Now, it is about one in every seven men who are abused by a girlfriend or wife.

I have posted several stories in March and April about women abusing men. From some woman in Tampa, Fla. to Project Runway contestant Kenley Collins.

In fact, violence against men was a topic that Tyra covered on her talk show on October 18. I was totally surprised at how well she actually covered it. I thought that Tyra was going to FAIL big on the topic. She proved me wrong.

JoJo said...

Violence against anyone isn't funny - man, woman or child. However with the Rudolph parody song you posted, I think that was just a sign of the times. I don't think you'd hear that making the rounds in schoolyards today. I never heard it sung even when I was a kid in the 70's. The only Rudolph parody I ever heard in the 70's was "Herman the Chanukah Candle" which is really cute, like Rudolph.

I hope I didn't send you that "Tiger Woods' Christmas Card" email to you....I don't think you would have found it at all amusing. But I admit I laughed when I saw it. Miss Dove brings up a REALLY good point about the Andy Capp comics. I forgot about how violent those were!