Off Juba Topic

This has nothing to do with anything Southern Sudan-related, but it does have to deal with issues surrounding women’s rights and gender-based violence (which actually are pretty big issues in Southern Sudan, but… posting about that would basically only lead me to rant about women’s education and empowerment and end in me telling you to go read Stones into Shools and Half the Sky.  So… just pretend I did that.)

Great article in the NY Times today about how and why rich white men (and specifically, Charlie Sheen)  get away with physical, mental, and sexual abuse while other people don’t.

I recommend reading the whole thing, but if not, there are excerpts below.And yes, I know I already posted this to FB and my gchat status. Whatevs. (Most people probably know this, but I’ve worked at multiple domestic violence shelters, and so the amount that cumulative acts of GBV like this are brushed off is both infuriating and disheartening to me.  This entire article summarizes things pretty darn well though.)

Mr. Morgan inquired, “Have you ever hit a woman?” Two minutes later, with Mr. Morgan apparently satisfied with the actor’s answer that no, women should be “hugged and caressed,” that line of questioning was over. […]

In 1990, he accidentally shot his fiancée at the time, the actress Kelly Preston, in the arm. (The engagement ended soon after.) In 1994 he was sued by a college student who alleged that he struck her in the head after she declined to have sex with him. (The case was settled out of court.) Two years later, a sex film actress, Brittany Ashland, said she had been thrown to the floor of Mr. Sheen’s Los Angeles house during a fight. (He pleaded no contest and paid a fine.)

In 2006, his wife at the time, the actress Denise Richards, filed a restraining order against him, saying Mr. Sheen had shoved and threatened to kill her. In December 2009, Mr. Sheen’s third wife, Brooke Mueller, a real-estate executive, called 911 after Mr. Sheen held a knife to her throat. (He pleaded guilty and was placed on probation.) Last October, another actress in sex films, Capri Anderson, locked herself in a Plaza Hotel bathroom after Mr. Sheen went on a rampage. (Ms. Anderson filed a criminal complaint but no arrest was made.) And on Tuesday, Ms. Mueller requested a temporary restraining orderagainst her former husband, alleging that he had threatened to cut her head off, “put it in a box and send it to your mom.” (The order was granted, and the couple’s twin sons were quickly removed from his home.) “Lies,” Mr. Sheen told People magazine.

True, people flip out all the time over disputes. Fights happen. Every so often, people get mad, throw things, break things. Yet repeated incidents like these – repeated incidents that involve physical abuse, emotional manipulation and terrorization, and sexually-based violence – are what domestic violence advocates like to point out as GIANT RED FLAGS.  A record like that places someone’s partner as “extremely high risk.”  Yet no, let’s continue to pay this asshat billions every year and promote his celebrity (which I understand I’m contributing to here. Sigh.).

The privilege afforded wealthy white men like Charlie Sheen may not be a particularly new point, but it’s an important one nonetheless. Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears are endlessly derided for their extracurricular meltdowns and lack of professionalism on set; the R&B star Chris Brown was made a veritable pariah after beating up his equally, if not more, famous girlfriend, the singer Rihanna. Their careers have all suffered, and understandably so. […] But there’s something else at work here: the seeming imperfection of Mr. Sheen’s numerous accusers. The women are of a type, which is to say, highly unsympathetic. Some are sex workers — pornographic film stars and escorts — whose compliance with churlish conduct is assumed to be part of the deal. (For the record: It is not.)

And nothing new, but well stated:

These assumptions — about women, about powerful men, about bad behavior — have roots that go way back but find endorsement in today’s unscripted TV culture. Indeed, it’s difficult for many to discern any difference between Mr. Sheen’s real-life, round-the-clock, recorded outbursts and the sexist narratives devised by reality television producers, in which women are routinely portrayed as backstabbing floozies, and dreadful behavior by males is explained away as a side effect of unbridled passion or too much pilsner. […]

Which brings us back to Mr. Morgan, who, like many of Mr. Sheen’s past and present press enablers, showed little to no urgency in addressing the question of violence against women. “You’re entitled to behave however the hell you like as long as you don’t scare the horses and the children,” Mr. Morgan said at one point. Scaring women, it seems, was just fine.


</Soapbox rant>

We will now return to our regularly scheduled Juba programming.


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