Sexing Up Domestic Violence

Does violence at home have a throbbing beat for a backdrop and erotic sex burning up the house? Eminem might think he's presenting a case against domestic violence, but with lines like these:
"Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
But that's alright because I like the way it hurts"

pouring from co-star Rihanna's beautiful lips as her liquid kohl-rimmed eyes show us how caught in erotic fascination she is, we see one long rationalization about how two people caught up in alcohol and sex flame out to a passion-soaked burn.

That's the song your kids will be humming and dancing to while they watch a glamour-drama of domestic abuse amidst love gone wrong.

After watching Eminem's "Love The Way You Lie" video, I wonder if it's meant to warn women away from bad boys, or if the message tells us to be more understanding girlfriends, and thus rescue our tortured battering boyfriends. Certainly Eminem shows himself as an alarmingly appealing, if dangerous, man -- one that can easily catch the heart of a young woman looking for someone to rescue.

Eminem's portrayal is tediously close to how my former clients (batterers) viewed themselves. After years of hearing men deny, justify, and whine their way towards explaining away violence, I can't find a shred of sexy in Eminem's portrayal, despite his obvious desperation -- either as the character or as himself -- to explain away what he admits is wrong, but excuses with lines such as "And right before I'm about to drown, she resuscitates me."

Too many young men and women will find this all spectacularly sexy. The women are beautiful, even while being choked. The men are tortured by their rage, longing for love and peace. Oh, that the women would behave, their men would retreat to serenity.

How about a real-life PSA about violence against women from stars. Who'll play the role of the man whacking out his wife's teeth while the kids watch? Who want to play that role? Perhaps it's time we see what we're teaching our children as portrayed so well by Holly Levin.

Domestic violence isn't just about couples fighting over romance. It's part of a continuum. The United Nations explains, "Globally, up to six out of every ten women experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. A World Health Organization study of 24,000 women in 10 countries found that the prevalence of physical and/or sexual violence by a partner varied from 15 percent in urban Japan to 71 percent in rural Ethiopia, with most areas being in the 30-60 percent range."

Would Eminem make star-studded videos about a woman beating her children? A woman being burned by the Taliban? A gang rape on the street? A desperate junkie killing a man for a fix? Like the man portrayed in Eminem's video, there is no doubt the mother, the Taliban and the junkie are all under the influence of either substances or twisted beliefs -- but no one is putting a dance tune to their violence.

I suppose it's only when it's inside a relationship and behind closed doors that violence is given an erotic edge by a celebrity.

Maybe if we take the sexy out of smashing each other up, our children won't have to witness it. The legacy of domestic violence is a rotten inheritance to leave them, no matter how much glamour we put in the drama.