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Domestic Violence Jokes? I’m Not Laughing.

April 7, 2009

You probably already know what incident I’m going to bring up here: Yes, Chris Brown and Rihanna. You might also think it’s been blogged and discussed ad nauseam already. But as long as I’m still hearing jokes like, “Don’t make me pull a Chris Brown on you, bitch!” on a weekly basis—whether it’s from friends, acquaintances, or just people I overhear talking at a restaurant—I think we still need to keep the discussion going.

“Don’t make me pull a Chris Brown on you, bitch!” is something I overheard while dancing with some friends at a bar last weekend when a Rihanna song started playing. Now, I hate to admit that I was in the company of someone that would say something so asinine, or that I was dancing along to pop music I don’t really like, but so be it, that was the situation.

These kinds of comments make my blood boil. And so I always respond: “Do you think domestic violence is funny? I don’t.”

What makes my blood boil even more is the reaction I get—from men and women. I almost always am informed to “quit being so uptight,” “he’s just kidding,” or, “we’re just not politically correct.”

If standing up for victims of abuse means I’m uptight, then I hope all of you are as uptight as me. There will never be a moment when I’m okay with people making light of a situation where a young woman was beaten, bitten, and choked by a man about twice her size. Too often, these same people that joke about Chris Brown and Rihanna defend the comments by victim blaming, completely ignoring that she’s stuck in a cycle of violence and abuse that is hard to escape.

Newsweek had a great article last month, “Domestic Abuse Myths,” which discussed domestic violence in the context of this situation. The author makes a great point about victim blaming: “In most domestic-abuse cases, we’re talking about a situation where one person is wielding power over an individual through pain, fear and domination. It’s not about being scared to leave because of the dangers that await you in the world, it’s about being too scared of what’s at home to leave.”

So let’s quit blaming Rihanna for being a victim of abuse, and for God’s sake, let’s quit making awful jokes about it. It’s not funny.

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