To us females, men have it made. We think that they are free to do what ever they want, whenever they want. But I question, do they really have it made? Are men really free in this chauvinistic society?
A few weeks ago, young and black singer Chris Brown went on a TV show were he was interviewed about his past violent actions towards his ex-partner Rhiana. Later that day Brown made the top story in the news for braking a studio dressing room window. “Some temper this guy has” said the news person reporting the event. The portrayal of Brown was completely negative, stating that Brown “just can’t handle himself” and that he was “ballistic”. One news person asked “I wonder in how much trouble he might be in” after the incident occurred. The overall news media, such as the New York Post, were calling this the Brown’s “Crissie fit”. “Crissie fit” was used in allegory to the term “hissy fit”, referring to a “tantrum” or loss of self control mostly feminine or childish in nature. The media used terms like trowing fits and being in trouble, descriptions generally used when referring to childish behavior. The language used to portray Brown’s acts provided an aura of white paternalism over his actions. The descriptions of his acts were also naturalized and mocked trough out the broadcasts as to say that the archetypal behavior for black males is that of aggression and anger. If it’s true that Brown’s abusive past is nothing to be justified, I do believe that media has focused the attention on a delicate- private matter. And while many people like to blame abusers for their actions, few are willing to speak on behalf of abusers who have undergone therapy and who are in the difficult battle towards change. Brown allegedly is one of them. I wonder what would of happened if the questions directed toward him were about his counseling progress and about the fact that Rhiana accepted to drop the restriction order after seeing his changes. But it is hard for the world to accept that a man, a black man, a violent black man is capable of change. As I see it, provoking a violent man in rehab with delicate questions about personal issues on TV is as insane as offering an alcohol add to a recovering alcoholic actor. Without justifying his “Good Morning America” outrage, change only comes if we all learn to change right along with it.
On the other hand we find the current American voyeuristic obsession to be older white actor Charlie Sheen. Sheen is known for his drug abuse history and for recently “trashing his hotel room” in a cocaine-alcohol binge, along with his acting. This event was portrayed completely different from that of Brown’s. The headlines were about the financial damages he had done to the hotel room and interestingly enough most news articles focused on mentioning that Sheen was “not injured”. Little or nothing was mentioned about the frightened prostitute hiding in the bath room. Was she injured? One might ask. All thou Sheen has been in three divorces (denounced to have tried to kill one wife with a knife, and actually shooting another) and numerous arrests as well as engaging in, but never finishing many drug rehab programs, his over all projection is that he “just parties hard”. The shooting of his ex wife has been said to have been “accidental”. All thou many people dismiss him as being “crazy”, Sheen was the first person ever to reach more than one million tweeter followers confirming sayings that “many men look up to him”. Of course, Sheen has two concubine models living with him, fact that makes him even more popular with the guys.
On one hand Chris Brown’s entire career has been highly affected by his past actions. Censorship, boycott and a denial of a visa to enter England were held on the counts that he was guilty of domestic violence. On the other hand we have Sheen’s praises, justifications and a countless number of opportunities granted to him on the counts that he just “parties hard” or that “he’s just crazy”. Brown had to face years of probation and community labor as well as counseling. Sheen has been charged with a month of rehab, a month of probation and a month of anger management classes for one of his countless arrests. For the black man in this analogy violence means being feminine, for his white counter part it equals being macho.
Many people have spoken on the Sheen vs. Brown subject (including Brown himself), but in my opinion they fail because they only put blame in the media. These issues are manifested in media but truly rooted in the cores of our institutions and the perpetuation of racism and class-ism. I have chosen just two men as examples of what it means to be a man in America. We have seen that they both did what they wanted to do. For one, acting freely came with a cost, for the other it came with prices. It seems that men do have it made, depending on their skin color and bank account balance. If you’re rich and black the tailor made suit is tight as fuck, but still tailor made -if you’re rich and white you have many available suits and a tailor that makes house calls.
I wonder what the suit of American life is life like for the under-privileged versions of Brown and Sheen… What do you think?