Quick Hit: Samhita on Chris Brown, Steve Harvey, and dating advice

Chris BrownChris Brown, who famously beat his then-girlfriend Rihanna, has been cast as the male lead in the film adaptation of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, the dating advice book by Steve Harvey, who is currently being charged with emotional abuse as part of divorce proceedings.

Over at AlterNet our very own Executive Editor Samhita takes on this casting decision and the links between the dating advice industry and intimate partner violence. Here’s an excerpt:

The reality of intimate partner violence doesn’t exactly make good fodder for the fluffy idealism of romantic comedies. Intimate partner violence is an epidemic. Although overall rates of IPV have gone down in the last 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control, each year women suffer about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes, while men are the victims of about 2.9 million incidences of violence. It is well established in psychology that violence is a cycle, a much deeper problem than a “mistake” or a “bad apple.” Intimate partner violence is scaffolded by a culture that believes men and women have innate and distinct characteristics that lead them to behave in certain ways. Unfortunately, the most popular books on dating perpetuate these same ideas about gender and romance.

This suggests a strong relationship between dating advice that relies on old adages about “men being from Mars and women being from Venus” and really problematic behavior from men toward women because ladies, “that’s just the way he is.” Dating advice like Harvey’s sets up a paradigm in which women are blamed for their relationship problems because they don’t understand the men they are trying to love. It may not be directly causing the violence, but it sets up a cultural framework that allows for it to happen.

If Harvey’s message is to help women, then there should have been great pause in choosing Chris Brown to co-star in his film. Someone who has not demonstrated an effective ability to manage his own behavior when it comes to his intimate partnerships should not be the best choice to star in a movie that is supposed to help women make better choices when it comes to men. Unless Brown is going to play the male character you should never ever date or take back, choosing him to co-star in the movie is not just insensitive, it is downright irresponsible.

Go check out the full article here – it’s a smart, important read.

On Chris Brown’s Public “Apology.”
Chris Brown throws tantrum on Good Morning America.
Steve Harvey’s ex-wife comes forward with allegations of mistreatment

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Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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