Thursday, April 18, 2013

Catherine Kieu and Domestic Violence: Double Standards

Driving into work this morning unfortunately there was nothing on the sports stations I was interested in listening to so I decided to check out the talk show host Mildred Gaddis. She splits her show between political sections and relationship sections, with the latter coming second. I was running very late this morning so I caught her show in the relationship segment. She, and most of her female callers were laughing at something. Most of the male callers didn't think whatever they were talking about was funny at all and that, (paraphrasing one) "the woman should spend life under the jail". I was intrigued but still didn't know what they were talking about. And I was getting closer to work. There were a few commercial breaks. Finally, after one woman caller said "the man deserved it", another woman caller said "it's too bad the garbage disposal didn't work better" and another woman caller said that "she allowed him to call 911, how bad could she be?" and yet another claimed "men need to learn how to act" ,all of which was met with roaring laughter by Gaddis, it started to click for me. They were talking about the beginning trial of alleged (although it's conceded she did it) genital mutilator Catherine Kieu , who in a fit of jealous rage, poisoned her estranged husband, chopped off his penis and threw it in the garbage disposal.

Remember this story?
SANTA ANA, Calif. - A Garden Grove man tearfully testified Wednesday that his estranged wife "murdered him" the night she allegedly laced his food with a sleep drug and tied him to his bed before castrating him and tossing his penis into a garbage disposal.
Catherine Kieu, 50, is accused of slashing off her the victim's penis with a kitchen knife on July 11, 2011.
"She murdered me that night," he testified Wednesday afternoon.
According to the prosecution, Kieu was furious that her estranged husband was dating a former girlfriend, so she drugged him by lacing his meal with Ambien, and when he passed out, tied him up, castrated him and tossed his penis into the garbage disposal.
Catherine Kieu's attorney countered that his client suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and did not have the required mental state to be convicted of the charges she faces -- aggravated mayhem and torture, with a sentence-enhancing knife-use allegation.
If convicted, she faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole....

As I mentioned, I was way behind schedule this morning due to an unfortunate series of events so I did not have the interest or opportunity to check all of the various reactions over the past two years to this crime. But as far as I know the victim has to this day not been invited to the White House to discuss any Violence Against Men Act nor has any Senator or Congressman/woman adopted him as a cause celebre in the struggle against domestic violence. No one with mainstream media access has angrily pointed to his case as an example of the need to teach women not to mutilate. I do remember that when this story first broke, some women, just like the women I listened to on the radio this morning, thought that cutting off a man's penis and throwing it down the garbage disposal while he bleeds out was quite humorous. In fact one claimed that if she were Maria Shriver, that's what she would have done to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Ok. Well we're all adults. Sometimes we may find things that are horribly inappropriate funny. Everyone has a different sense of humor after all. But see I'm a bit confused. We're constantly bombarded with messages that there's no excuse for violence against women, rape (of women) is never funny, dongle jokes aren't funny, fat jokes aren't funny, stop blaming the victim, blah, blah, blah. 
Fair enough. But violence against anyone should be deplored, not just that against women. 
And when some of the same people that would howl the loudest if someone made a joke about male on female domestic violence yuk it up over a woman permanently mutilating her estranged husband, it sends a mixed message at best. At worse it shows that some people are some horrible hypocrites.  Domestic violence against men is much more common than people realize.

If we're going to teach people that domestic violence is wrong it has to go both ways.  No matter how angry (justifiably or not) someone may become because their partner isn't doing what they want or is cheating on them or whatever, there must be a firm no hands rule enforced equally regardless of gender. Violence, particularly horrific violence that changes someone for life, isn't funny. Kieu is someone who should be locked up for life. Her victim is someone who deserves sympathy, not mockery. Your spouse, significant other or provider of thy nookie is "yours" only in the sense that they want to be. You don't own them. You can't punish them as if they were children or dispose of them as if they were property. When people forget that, male or female, they get into trouble. The fact that Gaddis ,and many but not all of her listeners, thought this story was funny and that the man somehow deserved it, says something not very good about gender relations. I can't imagine too many male media personalities making fun of a maimed female victim and keeping their jobs.


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