Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Apparently, Charles Saatchi is just a “bore”: The DM’s response to Saatchi’s Violence

The Daily Mail is back with yet another piece of vile victim blaming. This time they are outright saying that Nigella Lawson was not a victim of intimate partner violence at the hand of her husband Charles Saatchi. According to the DM, Saatchi is not an abuser. Just a bore. Because strangling your partner is completely normal behaviour during an argument.

The entire article is a pile of misogynistic victim-blaming. Every line minimises Saatchi's history of violence and ignores the clear evidence that he assaulted his wife. The article is so full of myths about intimate partner violence that I'm not entirely sure where to start with criticisms.

First up, we have this gem of information:

Charles Saatchi is being portrayed worldwide as a wife-beating monster on the basis of scant, if any, evidence.

Now, it's possible the "journalist" didn't actually look at any of the images of the assault but I'm fairly sure putting your arms around someone's throat, without their permission, to choke them constitutes violence. It doesn't matter if it only happens once. It is still intimate partner violence and Saatchi is guilty of assault.

Then, we get this:

Nigella Lawson, famously her own woman and a goddess to boot, is being characterised as a pathetic victim of domestic violence — which, try as I might, I just don’t buy.

I guess this means that if you are a successful woman, you can't be a victim of violence. I would link to every study on intimate partner violence but, frankly, we all know the DM doesn't actually like "evidence". For those of you who are interested, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the US has this handy little factoid.

Next up, we get this:

Saatchi is indeed a volatile and physical man. Always has been. Back in the days when he began to make his millions in advertising, there were tales of him hurling items of furniture around the office like so many missiles, the better to ease any fleeting frustration.

So, we have a man with a well-publicised history of violence but his physical assault on his wife doesn't count because she's married to him? Any man who thinks it's acceptable to toss furniture around the room when having a tantrum is a violent man. It really is that simple. Frustration is not, and has never been, a valid excuse for violence. The fact that Saatchi is white, wealthy and male should not minimise his personal responsibility for the violence he has committed.

The DM, in a moment of generosity, does suggest that Saatchi is "... pretty darned physical with his wife, too ...". I would have thought getting "physical" with one's wife without consent would be intimate partner violence but it not in Daily Mail World. It's just evidence of Saatchi being a bit cranky:

Nevertheless, to put such unpleasantness into the catch-all basket called ‘domestic violence’ is to do grave disservice not just to this couple but also to the real victims of real horrors that happen daily behind closed doors.

I'm not entirely sure what the DM requires as evidence of "domestic violence". Clearly, attempting to strangle your wife in public isn't sufficient evidence. I'm so glad they thought to tell us that. I had no idea that attempting to strangle one's wife is normal behaviour for a man. I mean, I know that the trauma of intimate partner violence manifests itself in numerous ways and that it usually takes a minimum of 30 incidents before women report their partners to the police but I was unaware that being married to a rich, white man made the trauma less of a problem. I shall, of course, take note of that.

And, I do love the theory that Saatchi taking a police caution was a "joint decision". That, clearly, is not an example of victim-blaming at all. Saatchi chose to physically assault his wife but they both decided he should take a punishment for it. If he hadn't, would that have been Lawson's fault too? I've got myself all mixed up as what is and is not her fault, that I'm just not sure anymore.

It is also, apparently, both "patronising ... (and) insulting" to label Lawson a victim. This is the worst that could have possibly happened: labelling Lawson a victim of intimate partner violence; not being assaulted by her husband. That's just an irrelevancy that the rest of us keep whinging on about. Nope, the worst thing about Saatchi throttling his wife in public is labelling her a victim:

It is both a marvel and a sadness that what, barely a generation ago, was a vibrant movement of women jumping up and down to yell about their strengths has dissipated into a perpetual whimper about poor little us, victims all.

Victims of harassment, victims of discrimination, victims of husbands, victims of men.
Everybody is in on it: the police, the courts, the law-makers and, as we’ve seen here, even the politicians rush to join in.

Should a woman have any manner of altercation with a man, she is instantly labelled ‘victim’ until and unless his innocence is proved — the opposite of the way our trusty system has traditionally and properly worked.

This is rather a clever "feminism is ruining the world" sub-plot. What is the world coming to when we name the perpetrator of male violence as a perpetrator? After all, the DM thinks we should feel "slightly" sorry for Saatchi for painting his character in a bad light. Poor diddums will have sad face at all the nasty feminists holding him personally accountable for his own actions. I mean, we all know that men can't ever be responsible for their own actions. That would be sacrilege. Or, something.

So, there we have it: men aren't responsible for the violence they perpetrate. Nasty feminists are ruining the world and successful women can't be victims of domestic violence.

God bless the DM for keeping us poor ickle wimmen straight on such complicated issues: putting your hands around your wife's throat in a argument is no biggie and anyone who suggests otherwise is a nasty whiner.

First posted at Elegant Gathering of White Snows

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