Why Women Should Not Slap Men (and other abusive BS on TV)



This is a common television and movie trope: the woman gets angry that the man has said something awful, usually something that demeans her as a woman, and she slaps him.  The man acts as though nothing happened and they go on with the scene.  It's commonplace in most things we watch, to the point you'd think it's a pretty normal and acceptable thing to do, right?  

But then you may think to yourself "Hey, we're pretty far along in what's acceptable and whatnot, it's not the 1950's anymore.  We know better than that."  But the truth is, we just don't.  

Enter "A Discovery of Witches".  When it first came out in 2011, I was kind of stoked to read it.  But I never did.  Then in 2018, the show came out.  And I didn't want to pay for it (because, money).  So I waited to see if Netflix was going to pick it up.  It didn't, but I found a way to watch it around a month ago.  I didn't know much about it, but I was enamored at the idea of another fantasy show that looked really cool was available to watch.  I waited for my TV service to have the "free week" for a bunch of pay channels and watched the entire series that week (I'm cheap...and I already pay for oodles of other channels already).  

And safe to say, after watching it? I was kind of pissed off.  Like, a lot

Of course, the first thing I see is the whole strange sexist trope of "If I have sex with you, I own you" (is this a actual trope or real life?).  Then I see the main character, who is a woman, ANGRY AS HELL because her man refused to have sex with her.  

Um, did our sexism switch sides here or something?  If a man did that, OH.  MY.  GOD! (said in my best Janice Litman voice).  Do you think for one moment the world would be okay with that?  Yeah, I didn't think so.  So, he gets angry that's she's angry that he won't have sex with her and says "Why don't you just go have sex with my father?" 

Oh no he didn't.

And she fucking slaps him for it.  (His dad was hot, so why was that so insulting? I mean, she was acting like a total sex-possessed idiot and really deserved him saying that to her.)

So, let me ask the question: why are we, as a culture, okay with masking outright abuse as a "woman's right to be offended" just so she can hit people?    

Slapping someone is not cute or funny.  It's a violent act that's born out of rage.  So how is it any different than punching or karate chopping someone in the throat?

And when I search "A Discovery of Witches" and "sexism", all I see is is people bitching about the sexism from his side, that whole "I own you" shit.  But nobody seems to be talking about Diana's horribly abusive behavior.  How so many times she got angry with him because he said "no".  Aren't we, as women, taught that we can say no to man's sexual advances and if a man gets angry at us, that's abusive and controlling?  And it's a warning sign that something is wrong?  So why does Deborah Harkness (or the writers of the show...because I am not sure Diana does that in the book--damn, now I need to read it) think that the same red-flag behavior is perfectly fine coming from a woman?  And why does TV and Hollywood, in our day right now, still think that hitting men is okay?  

That's some fucked up shit right there. 

And before you say "Well, people know that TV is TV, and real life is real life."  Bullshit.  My mother used to watch Gibbs smack DiNozzo upside the back of the head all the time on NCIS and she thought that was so funny, she starting doing it to everyone.  I kept telling her to stop and she just laughed and kept doing it.  Not in a cute way, either, it actually hurt.  Until one day, in the car, I had a huge migraine and she did it to me and I said "Don't put your hands on me.  I have a migraine."  She did it again, but I ducked.  So she did it again and I was seething with rage and whipped my hand out to snatch hers and said in a very low and angry voice "Don't you ever put your hands on me or my kids and or my husband again.  You understand?"  She quit and never did it again (though she did try and would catch herself and stop before she followed through).  

Stupid people see TV and think what they see is okay to recreate in real life.  And we all know that the world is full of stupid people.  

Imagine if you smacked your husband or your father or your brother for saying something you didn't like.  Imagine what they would do or how it would make them feel.  Being hit or hitting someone is not funny in any way, shape, or form.  It's not comedy.  It's not justified.  Nor is it acceptable.  Ever.  

And for TV to be so careless with showing abusive relationships like this, it really makes me angry.  I grew up in an abusive home.  My parents were abusive to each other (even though mother feigned being the only victim).  They hit each other.  They called each other names.  They punished each other in numerous ways.  And they both did the same to me.  

I could go on about how other crap on this show is just awful and sexist and abusive.  But most of that is coming from the man and we all already know how bad that is (but yet, that's also on TV and movies, what the hell?  What kind of world are we still living in?).  What we, as a culture, are not getting, is that it's just as bad and abusive coming from a woman.  And how we haven't learned that lesson yet is beyond me.  It's 2021, y'all.  Get with the goddamned program.  

Although, this is not the only show to do this ("Jane the Virgin" depicts women slapping men, for one).  I would have to say probably most shows do it (because haha, abuse is so funny! *sarcasm*).  And that's so beyond fucked up.  

My mother slapped me (more than once, but we're just talking about the last time she did it).  It was in 2006, the day before my birthday.  She didn't like what I said (she was calling me names and I yelled "stop it!") so she jumped up and slapped me.  And I immediately slapped her back.  Being slapped or slapping someone feels just as real as getting punched or punching them.  Sure, it hurts less, but emotionally, it feels exactly the same, for both the slapper and the slappee.  It's born from rage and is an act of violence, pure and simple.  My father punched me in the face when I was 17.  Long story short, I was protecting my mother from his abuse, so he punched me instead.  I punched him back (I didn't land it, though, as I was falling to the floor when it happened).  That instance, of him punching me, felt no different to me than my mother slapping me 11 years later.  Both were abuse.  Both were for no reason.  Both were acts of rageful violence.  Both didn't like something I said and hit me for it.  I hit them both back (but when I was 17 and she slapped me for no reason, I didn't hit her back--I was too scared).   Because I felt I had a right to hit them back, because if you can dish it, you can take it (and sometimes it's instinctual and you need to protect yourself).  

So, if my son's wife (they aren't married yet, but their eventual wives) slapped him in the face because he said something she didn't like, should he slap her back?  

If you say no, because he's a man, that makes you sort of sexist.  If a woman can hit a man, then she should expect to be hit back, no matter who she's hitting.  If you don't agree, think of this scene: 

Your daughter's husband slaps her because she said something he didn't like.  What an abuser!  Only abusive men hit women, right?  And if she hit him back, the world would cheer.  Good for you!  You stood up to your abuser!  Right?  We've seen so many videos of woman hitting men who grope them on their jobs or in public and we all cheer for them!  Yay!  You go girl!  Beat that asshole's ass! 

But if a man stood up to his abuser, he'd be automatically seen as an abuser, himself, if his abuser is female.  But how is that not a complete hypocrisy?  How is violence of any sort okay, no matter who's committing it?  And why can't a man protect himself or stand up for himself if someone is hurting them?  Because he's stronger?  So what?  Why would a woman think it's okay to hit him in the first place?  Is it because she expects she won't get hit back because it's not culturally acceptable for men to hit women under any circumstances?

Sidenote: Now, my thoughts on hitting back is just don't do it.  No matter who it is.  Because if the person is insane enough hit you in the first place, they will be insane enough to hit you again, possibly with more force or with an object.  So the safest thing to do is run away and stop hanging out with that person (like when my mother slapped me and I slapped her back, she then chased me around to beat my ass because I had hit her back--I was an adult with two kids, so I scooped them up and ran out of the house for all of our safeties--but I shouldn't have hit her back, because god knows how much she would have hurt me, in front of my kids even, had she gotten a hold of me).  

When Diana hit Matthew on the show, he should have held his face and said "What the hell is wrong with you?  You aren't allowed to hit people you love!  You're abusive!  I'm done with you, you psycho!  Be gone, wench!"   Okay, maybe not the wench part, but still.  They just went along as though hitting is perfectly okay as long as a woman does it.  As though violence of any sort just plain okay, as long as a woman inflicts it on a man (though not when she does it to another woman).

Fuck that shit.  I refuse to watch any show that depicts abuse is normal or acceptable (and slapping your significant other is abuse).  I draw the line.  I love the holy crap out of fantasy shows, but if that show, no matter how cool it looks, depicts abuse or violence against a loved one as okay or normal (I'm also looking at you "Twilight"!)?  I just can't stomach it.  

We need to set an example to these TV producers and creators and say "I won't stand for this" and just not watch it when they allow this type of crap on their shows.  It's 2021.  We are smarter than this (despite how stupid the world can be at times).  We know better.  We don't allow people to spank their kids on TV, do we?  If it does happen, they always apologize and let their kids know how wrong it is, which translates to the audience "Hey, we shouldn't hit children".  Why can't the same happen when women hit men?  Or maybe, just stop having them hit them in the first place?

Because my mother isn't the only simple-minded person out there thinking "TV says it's okay, so I guess it means it's okay!"  

And just the fact that normalizing it on TV is numbing us to abuse in general.  Which is so not okay.  


Men are just as abused as women are (they just don't realize it's abuse because it's not always physical, though many times, it is and just ignored).  They are raped, they are sexually abused, they are physically abused, they are emotionally abused, and everything else, just as much as women are.  We need to get away from the idea that there is a difference between us in these regards.  There isn't.  And TV and movies need to catch up.  And until they do, do your part, and boycott shows until they do.  

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.  😁


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