Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Victim blaming and the Mel Gibson tapes

I am writing this post under the assumption that most of you reading this have heard of the recent Mel Gibson rants. For those of you who haven't, there is information about it here and here, and it is basically him verbally accosting his ex-girlfriend, including threatening to kill her and crazy amounts of profanities and racist and sexist language that I prefer not to hear.

Anyway, I was watching Access Hollywood (rather, it was on in the background as I was working), and I heard this quote from a viewer about Oksana (his ex):
She set him up, egged him on, pushed his buttons, worked him into a tirade and recorded that to be put out there... for money... granted, no woman deserves domestic violence... but come on...
This is victim blaming. Although there have been accusations that Oksana was trying to get money from Mel Gibson (I'm not sure if they are substantiated), would that make any of this ok? Speaking to a human being in this way is NEVER acceptable.

And saying that "no woman deserves domestic violence, BUT" is the same as saying but she did. It's like when someone says "I'm not racist, but" you just know the next comment is going to be incredibly racist... and that's not ok. If you have to use that "but" you should probably think twice before making the comment in the first place. And it is eerily similar to questioning a woman's behavior and dress if she is raped. There is NO excuse, it is NOT ok, and commenters need to stop justifying his behavior.... including Whoopi on The View

In a previous relationship, I have heard most of the same threats that are uttered on this tape. I spent 2 and a half years living in terror. I couldn't tell you how many times he told me that it was my fault. I was blamed for everything in the relationship... if only I was a better housekeeper, a better mother, a better support for him... if I were better, he would quit using, drinking, and I wouldn't get hit or yelled at (even though it still happened when he was clean and sober). It seems rediculous now that I blamed myself for the abuse, but it is extremely real for so many people in this situation. The last thing that Oksana needs right now is more fingers pointing at her, she needs privacy (good luck with that one) and support (somewhat more plausible).

And, on a sidenote, the same episode reported that 50% of people would still go to a Mel Gibson movie... that figure might end up being substantially higher in a few months or a few years. I hope not, but pop culture does not always have much memory. I don't think I will ever be able to look at him the same way again, or watch his movies....

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