Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Daley & Hazel – BBUK & Domestic Abuse

Daley Ojuederie was unceremoniously removed from the Big Brother house last night after displaying threatening and violent behaviour towards fellow housemate Hazel O’ Sullivan. The exchange and events detailed on the website Digitalspy are very disturbing indeed.

Not only did he use threatening language but he also pinned Hazel to the bed with both arms telling her to “respect her fucking elders” and told her it was scary shit when he got angry.

The footage I saw was some of the most chilling I have ever seen on a television programme.

First of all, disturbingly, Daley clearly sees Hazel as an object; a toy over which he has complete power and control and this is not only prehistoric but extremely worrying in 2013. It it uncanny how women always receive the blame for the misogynistic and inexcusable actions of men.  Anyone watching that piece of television could see the palpable fear in Hazel’s eyes. There were not kissing and cuddling after the event as Daley suggests. Hazel was in fact understandably cowering in the corner before Daley was called to the diary room, telling him “its okay they probably just want to talk to you.”

There was a distinct tremble in her voice and she has admitted to fellow housemates that today she was scared.

Patriarchy as a phenomenon has a lot to answer for. Men are cast as stronger, and inherently less fallible and stupid than women. The man then feels he has the power and authority to rule over the woman in some kind of twisted version of benign autocracy.

He can also use his physicality to dominate the woman invading her body as well as her mind. Of course he has tried to exonerate himself, calling Hazel devious. It is a little rich lecturing on honesty when you have a girlfriend in the outside world.

Whether she smacked his bum, or pulled his boxers down, neither of those actions justifies violent behaviour towards women. In fact let’s be unequivocal, no actions whatsoever deserve violent behaviour towards women.

His failure to acknowledge what he did points to one thing. His guilt and his unwillingness to accept responsibility. I’m glad: he should feel guilty. He behaved disgustingly towards a woman whom hours earlier he had romanced, and for him it was a play fight. Let me tell you I have never seen any play fight where a man pins a woman on a bed and put his hands around her neck. No; let us name the problem. The problem here is male violence and the belief which is all too prevalent that men are somehow inferior to women.

To give Big Brother credit where it is due, they moved swiftly and decisively to deal with the situation.

But this is where I am left wondering about the blur between the disturbing, the creepy and entertainment.

Big Brother is meant to be an entertainment show, for fun. Yet what Daley did could not be classified as fun entertainment. In fact it was disgusting to watch and I hope I never have to teach at things again.

By comparison, we enjoy watching celebrities prancing around on a dancefloor and falling over, or watching people bake cake that fails to rise. However I fail to see the rationale for keeping a show like Big Brother on air..

Yes, ratings are important and Big Brother is probably a big money spinner for Channel 5, however what is the real cost? Audiences like it, but surely they cannot have liked the disturbing footage of last night. It turned my stomach and I’m sure it turned the stomach of every right-thinking person.

But there is a part of me that also says if this show had never been televised Daley might not have been exposed for what he is. Singling Hazel out, yet all the while trying to deflect responsibility away from his own self. It is a non negotiable red line for me. This is not entertainment. It exposes the ugly underbelly of humanity when somebody thinks, under the public gaze that that sort of behaviour is okay. That sort of behaviour is never okay at all.

At the end of the encounter in the diary room, he says he will not play fight and will tell Hazel to do the same. Somehow, this jumps out at me because he is casting himself as a superior authority figure, thus leaving the women in the inferior position in his self made hierarchy. For Daley, women need to be told. They cannot think independently.

He also does not help his case by saying that Hazel has disrespected him. Any disrespect he might feel was directed at him is kind of trumped by putting your hands on a woman’s throat. This is disrespectful and disgusting in every way conceivable. You don’t get respect, you earn it and behaving like a violent thug does not tend to work. Any sense of injustice he might feel is kind of trumped by the treatment he gave to an innocent woman. Not only that but a woman who trusted him so therefore he knew he was in a position of power. In the end he abused and exploited that power.

With the unfolding of recent events, Big Brother’s theme of Secrets and Lies has taken on a whole new meaning. It is a shame that for Hazel the supposed ‘safe house” proved to be anything but.

Of course in the fullness of time, there is a post mortem to be had. How on earth did this bully pass the extensive psychological checks in order to participate in Big Brother? Also is enough emotional support provided to contestants?

The alleged romance between Hazel and Daley was ratings gold. Producers must have been rubbing their hands in glee. It is just sometimes that other things are much more important.

Daley is a classic bully. He got in Hazel’s face and threatened to “nut her.” Such dynamics are about power and control. Hazel bravely tried to take that control back. She stated that she wasn’t afraid of aggressive men. But thankfully Big Brother took control instead. If producers had not stepped in I dread to think how much worse the situation could have been. We have to ask of ourselves what passes for entertainment. It definitely isn’t the horrific footage I saw this week. This, I know.

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