Flabbergasted

I know this is off-schedule but I’m so . . . something. Disgusted? Shocked? Disgusted that I’m not more shocked?

So Catherine Kieu Becker drugged her husband, tied him to the bed, cut off his penis, and ground it up in the garbage disposal. This news broke a little over a week ago and I heard it and thought “Ew, gross,” and thought no more about it. Because I didn’t think this was going to be a thing. You know, it’s a heinous crime, and all people who are not sociopaths are all going to think, “That’s terrible!” and that’s really all there is to say, right?

I know. I’m so naive. Of course it was going to be a thing. Over on The Talk, which is CBS’s The View, Sharon Osbourne called it “fabulous,” and all the ladies on the panel and in the audience laughed. One of the audience ladies, upon learning that the guy had filed for divorce (before the penis-cutting-off incident), said, “That’ll show ’em.” And they all laughed. Then Leah Remini tried to (sort of) bring order to the proceedings by saying there’s only one thing that would make her that mad, and all the ladies guessed, “Cheating?” and I went, what? Cheating? I mean, I’d be mad if my husband cheated on me, for sure. I’d be file-divorce-papers mad. I’d be fuck-whoever-would-piss-him-off-the-most mad. (Well, maybe. On the other hand, if I wasn’t filing for divorce, I wouldn’t want to give up the moral high ground). I’d be take-the-kid-to-New-Jersey-until-he-made-a-Grand-Gesture mad. But cheating would not make me cut-off-his-dick mad. A man raping my daughter would make me cut-off-his-dick mad. And I assume that’s what Leah Remini was alluding to. And I (and probably Leah Remini) still would not actually cut off someone’s dick. Because that shit is still wrong. And then Sara Gilbert really tried to fix things by saying, “Hate to be the spoilsport, but we wouldn’t be laughing if a man cut off a woman’s breasts and said she deserved it.” And everyone said, “Oh, you! It’s not the same thing at all! Breasts and penises are both hilarious! Let’s laugh some more.”

And I just don’t know how to process all of this. I don’t know what to do when people – mainstream, on TV, on a major network, on a regular morning show that usually talks about, I don’t know, how pretty Catherine Middleton’s wedding dress was – react to “A woman cut her husband’s penis off and threw it in a garbage disposal” with “Ha, ha, awesome!” rather than “Ew” and “That’s awful!”

What’s really upsetting is that this is exactly what I was talking about when I said I hate how all these “girl power”-type moments in pop culture are not only not feminist, they draw unfair ire towards feminism and thus erode or make more difficult the work feminism actually wants to do. I saw this clip because I was looking at this blog, and I almost didn’t post because the clip they’ve got has one of these self-identified MRA guys talking for a few minutes beforehand, and while he makes valid points about how no one would laugh if the shoe were on the smaller, daintier foot, he still calls women “cunts” and talks a lot about how emotional women are and how we want “pussy passes” for being emotional and violent and destructive. And I want to be able to say, “No, no, no, women don’t think this is acceptable; OF COURSE women don’t think this is acceptable, that’s nuts!” Except that then this fairly mainstream sampling of women – the hosts and the audience – think it’s hilarious. So these MRA guys can go, “See?”

And the guys who are on the fence, who say, “Hey, I’m just a regular guy and I think women are sometimes nice and sometimes bitches,” see this and become MRA assholes. Maybe.

So let me do what I can here. Let me say, cutting off a man’s penis is not a feminist act. It’s a sick, twisted, violent, criminal act. Laughing and assuming all men deserve to have their penises (penii? Latin people?) cut off is not a feminist reaction. It’s a sick, twisted reaction and it makes me very concerned about the relationships you have with the men in your life. I mean, really, Sharon Osbourne. You have a son. You think it’s laughable and fabulous when a man’s penis is cut off? That’s not okay.

Sometimes my fourth-grade class does something that makes me say, “Really, guys. Don’t throw crayons at each other, and don’t make me say, ‘Don’t throw crayons at each other’ to a group of fourth graders. Y’all know better.” That’s kind of what I feel like here. Like saying, “Don’t laugh at a man’s penis being cut off. And don’t make me say, ‘Don’t laugh at a man’s penis being cut off’ to a group of humans. Y’all know better.”

But with significantly more disgust and disappointment that I have towards my fourth graders. None of whom would be laughing about this.

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12 thoughts on “Flabbergasted

  1. Leah says:

    All he did was file for divorce? (I can’t imagine why. . . ). Right on, Ricki (and Sara Gilbert, good for her)! I remember we all thought it was funny when Lorena Bobbitt did it, but there were two differences: a) we were children and b) she was abused and then cut it off and threw it in a field. Not that that isn’t a permanent act, but the garbage disposal brings it to a new level. This is one of many reasons I hate any talk show that comes on before noon (and most of the ones that come after).

  2. crella says:

    ‘“No, no, no, women don’t think this is acceptable; OF COURSE women don’t think this is acceptable, that’s nuts!”

    Many women do. It’s the mass media default position, why, because no one thinks that way? ‘She must have been abused’ ‘she must be mentally ill’ gets women off the hook quite a bit. What if Reverend Winkler had shot Mrs. Winkler in the back as she slept, because she humiliated him when they had sex, and to top it off, his defense was ‘I don’t know what happened, I took the gun in my hands and then heard something go “boom” ‘ Her reason, presented on Oprah, was that he “made” her wear white platform shoes when they had sex. So kill him, he “deserves” it !(Mary Winkler’s actual testimony of how she shot her husband…she didn’t remember shooting him, something go boom!) .She had the presence of mind to yank the phone out of the wall so he couldn’t call 911. If Rev. Winkler had done this to his wife,do you picture him already out of prison, with custody of the kids?
    Casey Anthony, whose car trunk smelled of decomposition, who never reported her child missing, her defense was that her father molested her. What does one thing have to do with another? Why, yes, that’s two pussy passes if you ask me.

    It will happen again, and when it does, open your eyes and ears and see how many of the women around you smirk….in the case of a woman killing her kids, count the seconds until ‘she must have been abused/ mentally unstable’ comments begin.

  3. RFA says:

    So women publicly celebrate sexual torture and genital mutilation on mainstream television and mra’s are the bad guys in the story for calling them names.

    Got it princess.

  4. Michael Caine says:

    Actually, the thing I find funny about the whole “The Talk” thing is that it was the man-hating lesbian who was the voice of reason. But I think the reaction of the audience is telling. I prophesy more dicks being ground into quarter-pounders. Just wait and see.

  5. rowdy mcfarlane says:

    I like how MRAs are blamed for the actions of many, many ordinary women. Not men, but women. You can see the “humor” and mocking of the victim by women on popular women’s blogs by the hundreds like Cafe Mom, and on news blogs by the thousands (even CNN had hundreds of bloggers mocking this man, Huffing Post, LA Times, Yahoo News had thousands). How did we get to this? 30+ years of manstream feminism’s demonization of men, that’s how. 30+ years of popular media useing sexual injury to men as either “humor” or a sadistic version of he “deserved it”. 30+ yers of feminists joking about this sort of thing, as they did about Bobbit, or as NOW did in it’s news column (for years!) intitled “Below the Belt”, a phrase that has but one meaning. Turn your venom in that direction.

  6. James says:

    A bit late to the party, but I feel I have something to add here:

    You’re too late. Feminists have said this crap for years and declared it ‘payback’ for women’s oppression or ‘fighting back against our male oppressors’. (e.g Jezebel ‘Have you ever beaten up a boyfriend cause, uh, we have!’ The very worst quote I encountered on another site was ‘If a man is raped it’s a little lesson in what it’s like to be treated like an object’) and even if that IS a minority voice, then you haven’t done a good job at exercising it from the movement when it was needed. Now it’s everywhere.

    I say this because I myself was sexually assaulted by a girl when I was a kid, and these voices gave me the impression that society WANTED me to be abused by a girl, that she had the right to do so, and her actions were considered ’empowering’. Unable to escape, I put up with it for four years, and she happened to be the first in a line of female abusers through my young life. I didn’t tell anyone until I was 25.

    I’m not saying this as an MRA at all, I have nothing to do with them, but I’m very grateful to them for saying this female on male violence is unacceptable when nobody else was. Feminists on the other hand, tend to accuse anyone who says anything of being misogynistic, or whining or an MRA, or you go straight to the dictionary and tell everyone feminism = equality, or ‘not-my-feminism’/’not-a-real-feminist’. Now none of your accusers believe you. In fact, I suspect that this is a HUGE reason why the MRA movement exists in the first place.

    I don’t doubt you wouldn’t associate with this way of thinking, but unfortunately the damage is done. This piece is little more than a drop in the ocean.

    Too little too late. I’m sorry.

    • perica1981 says:

      I thought long and hard about this comment and then didn’t respond because I wasn’t sure if saying anything was the right thing to do. I want to say that I’m really sorry about what happened to you. I hope you are getting or have gotten the help and support you’ve needed since these abusive incidents. And I’m sorry that there’s rhetoric out there that has hurt you.

      It is unfortunate that all groups of humans, no matter their belief systems, include assholes. And it is unfortunate that the assholes tend to be the loudest, and because they are the loudest, they are the ones who become the mostly closely associated with the group by those who are not themselves members. Feminists are no exception to this rule. I want to say to you that most women, and certainly most women who identify as feminist, are on your side, and hate what happened to you, and hate how you were shamed for it and made to feel alone. But I don’t want to deny your experience of the opposite or exhort you to trust when you’ve not been given a reason to feel safe.

      So can I offer you a virtual hug and a wish for better encounters ahead?

      • James says:

        Thank you Perica1981. You most certainly can, and I accept your virtual hug wholeheartedly. I am deeply touched by what you have to say. It means a lot to me, especially the reassurance that feminists aren’t rooting for my abusers. And don’t worry, you’re not denying my experience, the only way you could do that would be to act dismissively, which you have not done.

        Unfortunately, I guess because of these clashes between feminists and MRAs, one becomes somewhat weary and cynical about bringing up these damaging attitudes for fear of being dragged into it. Sometimes though, and I am sure that as a feminist you are aware of this, uncomfortable truths can be difficult to hear, but they have to be brought up in order to help people, improve their lives, and protect them from harm. The best thing that the feminist movement can do I think, is oust people like this and get rid of them, because any and all accusations of man-hating would become obsolete, I am sure.

        Things are looking up now though, I hope you’ll be happy to hear. I have a girlfriend in Germany now, and she’s one of the most wonderful, sweet, beautiful and affectionate people I’ve ever come across and I consider myself to be very lucky.

  7. perica1981 says:

    I’m so happy to hear that things are going well for you.

    Unfortunately, we can’t stop people from calling themselves feminists and then being assholes about it, any more than we can stop anyone from identifying themselves as part of a group and being an asshole about it. We can just keep trying, as the non-assholes, to present a positive face. And say when we think other people are being assholes. So I’ll try to stay on that. 🙂

    • James says:

      Of course. I’m mostly referring to the rhetoric, and I guess an assumption by some that should one call themselves a feminist, that makes it so. Also, that any words that are uttered in the name of feminism must be right, when sometimes the right response is ‘you’re not a feminist, you’re just an arsehole’. :-p You most certainly are not, and your kind words do make a difference, certainly they’ve softened my opinion on feminism significantly. Presenting a positive face, I guess that’s the right way to go. 🙂

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