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Dec. 1 2009 - 9:04 am | 96 views | 3 recommendations | 7 comments

Tiger Learns Domestic Violence Only Counts If You’re A Woman


Tiger Woods at the Australian Open in Melbourne on November 12 (Quinn Rooney/Getty)

In the wall-to-wall coverage of Tiger Woods and the incredibly slow moving traffic accident, one rumor is getting lost. Obviously, we don’t have nearly all the facts.

But so long as we are slinging unfounded rumors around about Tiger’s alleged tryst with Rachel Uchitel, can we also stop for a moment and reflect on the allegation that Woods was a victim of domestic violence? If some reports are to be believed, Elin Nordegren went after her husband with a golf club. A golf club. With that — serious — allegation out there, shouldn’t this story be covered in completely different way? Here, let me hypothetically flip it around and you tell me what you think:

“Reports surfaced over the weekend that world famous celebrity Oprah Winfrey was involved in a minor traffic accident over the holiday. While details still remain sketchy, some reports indicate that Stedman attacked Ms. Winfrey with a golf club after he learned that Oprah may have been banging Idris Elba. Oprah briefly apologized for something. But then she realized it was an affront to all women to apologize for getting threatened with a golf club as if she was asking for it. She asks for privacy while she figures out if she wants to Stedman to go to jail.”

Something tells me that if that was the story, we wouldn’t all be talking about who Tiger was allegedly cheating with. Instead we’d be talking about the criminal penalties for allegedly taking a domestic dispute the full 18 holes.

The media coverage about Tiger is sexist, he’s getting a raw deal in the press because he’s a man. There, I said it. And I’ll explain it after the jump, assuming I can drag my knuckles up off of the floor long enough to type it out.

I’m married, and I don’t cheat. I know you have trouble believing that, because I’m a guy. And as we all know, guys cheat. Women cheat too, of course, but guys seems to do it more; especially rich and powerful guys. Rich and powerful guys cheat even when they are married to much more attractive, intelligent, and/or loving women than the ones they cheat with. I could explain why this is, but it’s an entirely different topic that is hard to explain unless you’ve ever had a penis.

I can only imagine how terrible it is to learn that your spouse is (allegedly) cheating on you. I’m sure the (allegedly) cuckolded spouse is angry, violently angry. But “cheating” doesn’t give you the (alleged) right to (allegedly) pick up a weapon and (potentially) swing it around (supposedly) terrorizing your husband while (apparently) bashing holes in his SUV — not saying that did or did not happen to anybody we (might well) care to know about.

For some reason certain people think that affairs give them the right to go to town on their cheating significant other. When these people are men, we call them “criminal assholes” and sincerely hope that they go to jail. When the female victims claim that they “fell down the stairs” and try to prevent criminal prosecutions of their attackers, we (or at least I) get very angry at the system and the society that lets these scumbag wifebeaters off the hook.

But when it is women accused of committing the violence, we treat it entirely differently. I know that, biologically, men tend to be bigger than women, but the whole “opposable thumb” evolution can really level that playing field. When a woman picks up a knife or a gun or a freaking professional golf club, they are significantly more dangerous than a man who spends his life watching precisely how the grass grows around a little cup. If a woman as famous as Tiger was in this situation, her Nordic husband would be in jail already pending further investigation.

At least many people (including myself) would argue that the man should be. But with Tiger, where is the outrage at his alleged attacker?

Why the double standard? Well, it’s not really sexism against men. It’s sexism against women that has been taken so far and is so socially ingrained that it comes back around to stab men in the ass in the woman-on-man domestic violence situation:

Sexist premise A: Women are weak, fundamentally irrational, and prone to emotional outbursts.
Sexist premise B: Any “real man” can defend himself against an emotional, weak woman.
Conclusion: It’s no big deal when a woman strikes a man for cheating. She’s just a girl, what else was she going to do?

And that is BS. We don’t accept it when a man abuses an allegedly cheating woman. And we shouldn’t accept it in the reverse because women are more than capable of exercising rational self-restraint. When women don’t, they are just as dangerous as any guy you know. Newsflash: women do know how to kill. Suggest otherwise at your peril.

But we just don’t take woman-on-man domestic violence very seriously, do we? No, in this country we have an award winning musical and movie which focuses on the comedic plot of two women who killed their lovers in a jealous rage. “He had it comin’, He had it comin’, if you had been there, if you had heard it, I betcha you would have done the same.”

And really, the iconic song from Chicago is about where the media coverage of Tiger Woods has devolved to. Did Tiger have it coming? Did he cheat on his wife? Because in America, if you are famous and you commit the relatively common offense of adultery, then you “deserve” whatever happens to you.

At least if you are a man.


7 Total Comments
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  1. collapse expand

    Hmmm. Interesting point. Maybe everyone should keep it in their trousers, regardless of gender.

    While violence is a lousy solution, take a look at the number of women who kill their cheating husbands — versus the three women every single day who are killed in the U.S. by the men who are persuaded that these women belong to them and, if they dare to leave, they deserve to die for their impudence.

  2. collapse expand

    Mr. Mystal,

    I do think you have missed a key point. You are correct in theory that the gender of attacker and the attackee are irrelevant. However, historically women have disproportionately been the victims of domestic violence and have often failed to receive adequate protection from law enforcement when they have been. For example, there was a study conducted between 1995 and 1996 where 16,000 people were surveyed in the 50 States and the District of Columbia. Nearly 25% of women and 7.6% of men were raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or dating partner/acquaintance at some time in their lifetime. (Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes, U.S. Dep’t of Just., NCJ 181867, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence, at iii (2000), available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/181867.htm). I am going to out on a limb and suggest that among the 7.6% of men who reported this, the attacker was probably a man in proportionately more cases than than women were the attacker among the 25% of women who reported being a victim of domestic violence.

    So I would suggest that the disproportionate focus on the woman as victim of domestic violence as opposed to men is not merely the reflection of stereotyped views of gender roles but some scientific data.

  3. collapse expand

    Ask Steve McNair about his feelings on the subject.

  4. collapse expand

    I agree that from a domestic violence point of view, women are at much bigger risks for much higher stakes, i.e. their life, then men. I also agree that historically, law enforcement has been too lax in regards to protecting women.

    My discomfort stems from my five years working at a municipal jail. Maybe it was just the area I was in, but I seemed to see a disproportionate amount of men in jail for Domestic Violence that, according to the women who put them there, never should have been arrested. I’m not talking about women afraid to press charges so the police do it on their own. I’m talking about women who would show up for visiting hours and threaten their husband/boyfriend that if they didn’t do as they were told, she would have them arrested again. It seems that an entire sub-group of women who use the system has arisen out of an otherwise noble goal.

    That being said, I do not think that the problem should be trivialized. I just think that more effort needs to be put into weeding out these false accusations. So from my stand point, I see where Mr. Mystal is coming from. If the situation were reversed, we’d be talking about how much Tiger’s bail was.

  5. collapse expand

    Here in Orlando Florida, the courts take DV against men very seriously. After all, we have 2 women with extensive histories as victims of DV, accused of killing their spouses, in jail on a NO BOND status. And we have Tiger’s Isleworth neighbor, Bob Ward, accused of killing his wife by shooting her in the face, out on $100k bond.

    The facts, as they’ve been reported, support both stories – one of DV, one of a wife trying to help her husband out of a wreck. Tiger’s behavior certainly is in line with that of a victim of DV (taking blame for what happened, embarrassed about the incident, etc.).

    As is often the case with domestic violence, only the two people involved really know the truth. The general public will probably never know the whole truth.

    It’s time to leave them alone to get on with their lives.

  6. collapse expand

    I knew a man who was abused by his girlfriend. The police were called one night, they initially thought he was the one doing the hitting. They ended up taking his girlfriend away, but he refused to file charges…much like women in his situation. I don’t know how much longer they were together, they eventually, thankfully, broke up. Domestic violence no matter who is doing it is criminal. If Mr. Woods’ wife was hitting him, she should be brought up on charges, and yes, you are correct that if he were a female, the male counterpart would’ve been arrested by now. It is sexist and a double standard.


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