I recently read a great post titled You Didn’t Thank Me for Punching You in the Face on the blog Views from the Couch. It centered around the societal notion that elementary school age boys pick on and sometimes violently assault girls because they secretly have a crush on them and cannot find any better way to express that than through violence.
Why do we tell girls that it is okay for boys to hit, tease, pinch, and generally torment them because “oh, that just means he likes you”? Why do we allow such behavior from boys, which no doubt fosters some sort of ingrained notion that it is okay to treat women poorly? It is no wonder that our society has such a problem with domestic violence when from such an early age with our own children; we are teaching boys that it is okay to hit girls if they “like” them and we are teaching girls that they should put up with the disrespect and abuse because it is actually a compliment.
We need to start changing the way we as a society respond to playground violence. If we are going to make the transition from a society ruled by misogyny and machismo to a society where violence of all sorts is not tolerated, especially violence within relationships. We need to stop ingraining systemic violence within our own young children.
Of course, this isn’t the only place in society where we reward (or at least, do not criticize) men’s violence against women. Just look at last Sunday’s Grammy awards, where Chris Brown, who hasn’t appeared at the Grammys since he assaulted his then-girlfriend Rihanna three years ago, not only performed, but was also awarded best R&B album for this past year. While there was a significant backlash against his appearance on Twitter, his response at the Staples Center where the Grammys physically took place was warm. The executive director of the Grammys, in response to criticism, was quoted in the Washington Post: “I think people deserve a second chance, you know. If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years, and it may have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened.” Personally, I think there is a very big difference between getting a second chance and only being sentenced to five years probation and being recognized and awarded as a musician. The Grammys, just like all of us, need to think about the messages we are sending to young people in our society over what is and what is not acceptable when it comes to domestic violence.