Saturday, 17 December 2011
The PC paradigm - mainstream double standards
Now, is that the most boring sounding blog post title that you've ever heard? I try, I try. Really I do.
Anyway, I've been thinking about mainstream spanking, in television and the movies, and something that annoyed me in the past raised it's somewhat grubby head once again.
A few years ago I was watching a pretty crappy British sitcom (so unremarkable that I have no clue what it might have been, but I'm sure it wasn't one of the half decent ones). There was a married couple who were at odds (aren't they always?); the wife was at her front door, and her husband came marching up the front path towards her. He says something pleadingly, she snorts, and swings a solid punch at him, hitting his chin and knocking him down. The studio audience (or at least the laugh track) roar at this tremendous joke.
Because, you see, she's smaller than him. And women are the weaker sex. And women are docile and non-violent. She's turned the tables, do you see?
She has committed an assault without any real provocation; if the tables were turned and the husband had punched the wife there would have been no laughter, only shock and horror (two quite proper reactions). Even if the husband were a slight figure, and his wife of matronly proportions it would still have been unacceptable. The woman might be physically stronger but we acknowledge men shouldn't punch women.
Apparently it's fine the other way. Funny even.
I knew a guy a little while back who moved in with a woman, who subsequently became physically abusive. She hit him (stereotypically, I know) with saucepans on several occasions, causing cutting and bruising. He never hit her back, not because he was afraid of her, but because his upbringing forbade it.
Even if you haven't watched The Young and the Restless I'm sure that you must have heard of it. A couple of years ago they had a scene where a male character bent a female character, of roughly the same age, over, under his arm, and administered 2 or 3 spanks. They were well deserved by any reasonable measure, in response to a verbal attack on him.
True to form the woman was shocked, and she clutched her bottom in response to the pain, before asking if he was insane.
This is unusual in mainstream terms, as there are few M/F disciplinary spankings shown nowadays; the vast majority are for sexual purposes. What makes this case a little more relevant it the audience reaction to it. There was a mass of negative comment on the official show forum, many referring to the slaps as a sexual assault, for which the character should be reported to the police. There was genuine outrage, with many considering it inappropriate for a man to enforce his masculinity in that way.
Which character would be more likely to incur physical damage as a result of the blows they received? The punched husband or the spanked woman?
While I suppose you would need to see the scenes in question to absolutely determine the answer to this, I would guess that most of you immediately lean towards the guy being punched; a set of knuckles in the face is likely to cause bleeding and bruising; a handful of smacks on the butt is unlikely to cause anything other than a slight blush and a quick sting.
Somehow though as a society we consider a woman hitting her husband to be okay, while a man smacking a woman is not.
I'm not arguing that non-consensual spanking is okay; clearly it isn't. I don't believe in hitting children, and I don't believe in hitting adults either, whatever their sex.
I might be making too much of this but the only time I can remember a man punching a woman for comedic effect is in Airplane, where it is clearly shown in an absurd context, but I can think of several where the roles are reversed. I'm not saying we should have a PC society as such, but I would like to think we can have one where everyone is treated equally. Even when violence is involved.
(the top picture is from The Young and the Restless; the other is an outtake from The House Bunny, and is there just for fun).