YouTube screengrab via the Mankind Initiative

Why is it OK to joke about cutting a man’s “d*ck” off?

Earlier this month, Iggy Azalea’s fiancé, Nick Young, was caught on tape discussing his hookup with a 19-year-old woman. Presumably to save face and maintain her boss bitch image, during a radio interview the Aussie rapper said she’d cut off half of Young’s penis if she ever again suspected he was cheating.

You can watch the video here:

I understand that she felt betrayed and humiliated about the leaked video and that she wasn’t serious about actually cutting her fiancé’s penis off, but why is it acceptable for a woman to joke about mutilating a man’s genitals? What do you think the reaction would be if the gender roles were reversed? How do you think people would react if a man joked about cutting a woman’s clitoris off if he caught her with another man? Most likely people would be outraged, even if it was clear that the man wasn’t serious.

And if you think the reason for the double standard is because violence against unfaithful men doesn’t happen, think again. Here’s a “humorous” article on Thought Catalog called “23 Women Who Severed Their Partner’s Penis for Cheating.”(see note below)*

Immediately under the headline is a large picture of someone holding a hot dog which might be mildly funny if this wasn’t an article about actual men being horrifically mutilated. In the piece the author details the violence with such flippant descriptions like “…sawed off her husband’s doohickey” and “…he awoke to intense pain, only to realize that his wife had severed his ding-a-ling.”  It seems, according to the tone of the article, these men deserved what happened to them because they stepped out on their partners.

What’s particularly disturbing about this belief that it’s OK for women to rough up unfaithful men is that so often it’s framed as a sort of quasi-feminist act. The trope goes something like this: a woman is devastated when she learns her partner cheated, but somehow through the tears she finds her strength and decides she’s going to make him suffer, and she’s going to use violence to achieve this.

When Iggy Azalea says “just one more thing and you will lose a quarter of your meat” or when Jazmine Sullivan sings “I bust the windows out your car, after I saw you laying next to her,” or when Carrie Underwood croons “slashed a hole in all four tires…maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats,” the message is clear: men caught cheating should be punished violently.

The justification for this is baffling because this isn’t about self-defense. We’re not talking about women standing up to men who abused them; this is about women being applauded and given a “you go girl” snap for being violent toward men who were unfaithful.

But why is female violence against men who cheat not only condoned but treated as though it were a part of female empowerment?

One of the worst parts of framing female violence against men in this way is that it can potentially discourage abused men from seeking help. It becomes even more problematic when you realize that intimate partner violence tends to escalate.

This video put out by the Mankind Initiative shows the difference between how people react when a woman is physically assaulted by a man versus how people react when a man is being physically assaulted by a woman.

I have to admit, seeing people laugh as the woman grabs the man’s face and pushes him into a gate made me cry. It’s probably because I knew a man who was abused and eventually murdered by his female partner. I don’t know if he felt like he could confide in anyone or if he felt like his abuse would be laughingly dismissed with victim-blaming statements like “how could you let a woman beat you?” and honestly, I don’t want to think about that too deeply because it’s painful.

But what I do know is this–it’s beyond hypocritical to call men “monsters” for terrorizing women who cheat, but then turn around and high-five women for doing the same thing to men.

* Note:  At least one of the cases mentioned on this list wasn’t about cheating. Lorena Bobbitt claimed her husband’s abuse caused her to snap and a jury believed her. 

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