The Guelph Mercury

Nothing funny in women slapping men

Saturday July 6, 2002
BONNIE EWEN
Mercury Staff
The Guelph Mercury

As a member of a gender that has fought hard for equal rights, it's hard for me to see men getting a slap in the face. Literally.

I don't watch a lot of television and can't tell you how long this particular commercial has been running, but I was shocked last week to see a spot for a beer company featuring woman after woman slapping man after man square in the face.

Each man in the commercial is slapped by his girlfriend or wife as he is caught looking at other women, or saying something the girlfriend or wife doesn't quite like.

At the end of the commercial, the beer company celebrates its message by saying: 'It's summer time,' and suggests the season makes it an appropriate time to grab a beer and some sunglasses to hide those female-delivered shiners. A commercial by another beer company features a hapless man getting his face slapped as he tries to pick up a date in a bar.

If these commercials featured men slapping women about for any reason, let alone something as innocent as looking at other men, talking out of turn, or looking to make friends, they would be greeted by an uprising of protest so fast and furious they'd be off the air, permanently, in seconds flat.

There's nothing funny nor acceptable about women being assaulted, as our society and courts have worked so hard to make clear.

If this commercial were about adults slapping kids around or about people kicking animals, the same and rightful outcries would be ringing through the air.

But this commercial is about women slapping men. And for some reason no one seems to care. On the Internet at www.menstuff.org, one researcher found that during a two-day period on five prime-time television shows, mostly comedy (isn't that sick), men were shoved, slapped or hit by women a total of 41 times. Why is no one outraged?

Is it that women have some pre-ordained clout? In literature, women who slap men are seen to be upholding their feminine dignity, to be getting even with some caddish behaviour. In truth, women who slap are themselves cads, stooping to a violent and non-intellectual response which can hardly be considered conflict resolution.

Is it that men are supposed to be tough enough to withstand abuse? Tough people don't stand for abuse. In fact it takes great emotional strength to rise up against abuse, which is why many people who are abused suffer in silence.

Domestic violence is widely seen as a women's issue. But domestic violence against men is the hidden phenomenon of battery and assault. Often those who are victims of it fear being ridiculed as weak, much as women who are victims of violence fear being seen as deserving.

It is also a very sad fact that the abuse of alcohol is often a contributing factor to domestic violence, both physical and emotional. I would have hoped that companies marketing beer would be cognizant of that fact and not use their products to promote the slapping of men as a side effect of summer.

The only thing I want to slap this summer are mosquitoes.

Bonnie Ewen is managing editor at The Mercury. You can reach her at ewen@guelphmercury.com or 822-4310, ext. 268