I have to admit, I’m pretty much addicted to Bravo. I especially adore the adorbs Andy Cohen and his nightly talk show Watch What Happens Live. While the show is great for a silly laugh, I was disturbed by something that happened last week.
Last Tuesday, Cohen asked guest Loretta Devine about Chris Brown since they starred together in the movie This Christmas. Considering the rumors swirling around a Rihanna/Chris Brown reconciliation, Cohen asked Devine if she thought Brown deserved a second chance with Rihanna. She replied:
“I don’t think they ever split up…So there.”
While Devine’s speculation shocked Cohen, I found it horrifying but not surprising. Many people don’t leave immediately after they’ve been abused. It may take them several attempts before they finally leave. And sadly, many return to their abusive partners.
But it was what Devine said next that truly disgusted me:
“Well love is love, you know? And he wasn’t the first one to hit somebody. Uh oh, I’m in trouble now…Well they acted like he was the first man to hit somebody.”
Um, excuse me? Did I hear that wrong?? Not the first man to hit a woman?! So that somehow excuses his appallingly abusive actions?! What. The. Fuck. I mean stop, just stop this bullshit nonsense.
But let’s give Devine the benefit of the doubt just for a teeny tiny moment. Perhaps she was trying to convey her opinion that Brown received a plethora of vitriol and rage from people when he’s not the only abuser out there (Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, Sean Connery, Eminem…I’m looking at you) — especially considering Brown is a black man and too much assault by white men has seemingly gone unnoticed.
But that’s not what she said. At all. Devine justifies Brown’s abuse — in doing so she ultimately condones domestic violence.
Devine follows up her offensive comments talking about Brown’s immaturity and “boyish” antics, some sort of twisted defense for his assault. As Jezebel’s Tracie Egan Morrissey wrote:
“So, to sum it up, in the span of one minute she ended up giving the ‘boys will be boys’ and ‘some men hit’ arguments while defending Chris Brown.”
Devine’s response towards Brown’s abuse of Rihanna reinforces the perception that society should ignore men’s violence because it routinely happens and it’s not that serious.
Now why the hell do I care what some actor said on some talk show? Because off-hand comments like these in the media help shape public perception. Devine’s casual attitude defend brushing off Brown’s abuse not only diminishes Rihanna’s pain. It diminishes all survivors’ pain.
Whether Chris Brown is the first, 5 millionth or the absolute last man to lay a hand on a woman, it doesn’t fucking matter. It doesn’t make it okay. In fact, Devine’s flippant response reveals our society’s warped culture that normalizes violence against women, dismisses survivors and trivializes domestic violence.
I can’t stress this enough. Domestic violence is a big fucking deal. No one should minimize or tolerate abuse. Domestic violence should outrage us all.