Check out this snippet I uncovered in which a popular celebrity talks about arguing with their significant other:
"I say, 'You have to go and stop talking to me, because I'm going to kill you. I'm going to stab you with something, please leave.' I'd never own a gun for that reason," says [name redacted]. "I wouldn't shoot to kill. But I would shoot them in the leg, for sure."
Who could it be? What if I told you it was a recorded phone conversation between Chris Brown and a buddy discussing the incident with Rihanna? Well, it isn't. And it's not OJ Simpson either. It's actually the ever-quotable Megan Fox talking about her fiancee Brian Austen Green.
The other day I was talking to the group of teenaged girls from my church that I volunteer with every week. They are, to a one, smart, funny, beautiful and nice girls. And yet, when talk turned to how frustrating brothers can be, one girl said she deals with her sibling by hitting him.
"Why do you do that?" I asked her.
"To get him to shut up," she answered perfunctorily.
"Does he hit you when he gets upset?"
"Oh no!" she exclaimed. "He'd get in way too much trouble!"
I paused. "So why is it okay for you to hit him then?"
"Well it's not like I really hurt him. Besides, he thinks it's funny."
The truth is, she being quite petite and her older brother being quite big, she probably doesn't hurt him. But since when does the amount of pain inflicted justify violence? Working with domestic violence survivors - I did a year-long stint working at a battered women's shelter and nine months on call as a rape-crisis counselor - I have spent quite a bit of time trying to teach women that it's okay to fight back, to stand up for yourself. And being a survivor of dating violence, I've spent a lot of time telling myself that as well. I'm certainly not going to say that a woman needs to take abuse, but this doesn't give us a free pass to hurt another person.
Like the girl from the example above, many often cite the women-are-the-weaker-sex argument in their attempts to justify violent speech or behavior. I'd say that Megan Fox makes an excellent, if unintended point here: guns level that playing field. Yet somehow in our popular culture we have decided that violent females are cute, sexy - Megan Fox's current film Jennifer's Body is a horror movie based around the concept of a hot girl who literally eats men - or the most cringe-worthy: empowered. This idea of female empowerment = violence is so popular these days that I saw the chicks rule logo above on a t-shirt at Wal-Mart. In the little girls section.
I get that traditional horror flicks have long traded in victimized (in oh so many ways) females; it's one of the many reasons I detest horror movies. But does going so far in the other direction make it any better? Rather than striving to raise the number of female serial killers to equal that of men, I think our time would be better spent in not glamorizing serial killers of any gender. The funny thing is that apparently women love horror movies. The New York Times recently examined this paradox:
"Recent box office receipts show that women have an even bigger appetite for these films than men. Theories straining to address this particular head scratcher have their work cut out for them: Are female fans of “Saw” ironists? Masochists? Or just dying to get closer to their dates?"
What do you think about Megan's statement? Would you not take her seriously knowing that she's a petite, gorgeous girl? Do you find the "girls kick boys' butts" message empowering? Are you a girl who loves horror movies?