The correct answer is too many things.
This video of a girl slapping her boyfriend repeatedly on the streets of Hong Kong has become viral after two days, currently topping 930,000 views as I am typing. Without a doubt, it’s disgusting to watch as the girl beats her boyfriend in public. From what I gather, there was a dispute over whether the boyfriend invited another girl to his apartment (supposedly the other girl at the scene). I believe at one point he cries out that the second girl is the girl’s family member, and also he declares that he never did such a thing. Eventually a crowd gathers around and the girlfriend was arrested by police for assault.
But I’m horrified…and not just because of this girl.
The first and most obvious reason for my horror is this girlfriend and her actions. She is apathetic to her boyfriend’s pleas, and she even glances at her watch as if this and his sobs aren’t worth her time. Even the second girl awkwardly tries to tell her not to beat him. This girl is clearly a physically abusive woman, and she obviously has abused her boyfriend to a point where he is compliant in not only kneeling in the street, but also allowing her to beat him relentlessly for a deed he might not have done. Although the camera is focuses on capturing the girlfriend, the few times we see the male’s face (red and purple with bruises) reveals how badly beaten he is.
But there’s the second element that made my stomach turn. How did all the viewers react, both in the video and off? It takes four minutes of slaps and verbal abuse before a woman takes a stand against this girl. There are moment in the beginning where I catch by-standers smiling or even laughing — just moving closer to get a look of what is going on. It’s such a clear display of abuse, but because of the sex of the victim, people are initially more amused than concerned. A security guard can be caught chuckling at the sight initially. They go on to tell the boyfriend to man up and dump the girl.
And then the YouTube comments that have flooded in. There are many that slander the girl with insulting words for women usually. But then there are what seem to be a majority of the English comments that call the male a “pussy” and go on to scoff at the masculinity of all Asian males. One commenter laughed, “I would bitch slapped that hoe!” Not only has this become an issue of sex, but also an issue of race. These commenters are building off the stereotype that Asian men are more “feminine.” Not only are they being sexist, they are being racist.
Contrary to popular belief, you are not being “unmanly” when you find yourself in an abusive relationship, whether it’s a verbal or physical. It is estimated that 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually. Read up on more statistics here. I believe that victims in abusive relationships are often blind to the abuse. It’s not like the partner slaps you in the face on the first date. They slowly try to control you…and you’re usually already under their control by the time the more worst abuse occurs.
Take for instance this case that delves into male victims of abuse: “At first, she discouraged me from seeing old friends, especially female friends. She threatened to use violence against them. For example ‘If so and so visits here, I’ll be putting a knife in her guts.’ … She would flirt with my friends, but then tell me that they were trying to seduce her behind my back. This left me feeling distrustful of my friends. Later on, I found out that she had been telling them that they shouldn’t come round because I was insanely jealous. All this had the effect of damaging my social network.”
Men are often less likely to defend themselves when they are being physically abused, and part of that is fear of appearing to be the abuser. Males are taught to “take it like a man,” making it difficult for them to speak out about their abuse. Society is less likely to believe that men are victims of abuse, so they remain silent our of fear of not being believed or supported by friends, family, and society.
What the young man in the video was going through is not simply an individual being “unmanly.” Nor was he “shaming” Asian American males. Abuse has nothing to do with whether you are a man (literally or metaphorically), and it certainly has nothing to do with race.
I recommend everyone learning about abuse to recognize the signs, whether you’re male or female. Because it’s always easier to believe you would never be as “unmanly” when you have never experienced abuse.
The Mayo Clinic lists these warning signs of domestic violence, for both sexes:
Your partner or family member:
- Insults you and belittles you.
- Prevents you from going places, such as to work, classes, school.
- Doesn’t allow you to see family members or friends.
- Tries to control how you spend money, where you go or even what you wear.
- Is jealous, possessive or accuses you of being unfaithful.
- Lashes out at you when drinking alcohol or using drugs.
- Threatens you physically or with a weapon.
- Does any sort of beating: Hitting, kicking, shoving, slapping.
- Assaults you while you are your weakest—like after you’ve had a few drinks, or while you’re sleeping.
- Forces you to have sex against your will.
- Blames you for his or her violent behavior or tells you that you deserve it.
- Portrays the violence as mutual and consensual.