I am going to tell you something that might shock you. I am a woman that enjoys watching misogynist shows such as Two and a Half Men and Anger Management. There’s no disputing that Charlie Sheen succeeds in comedy, he has over a million viewers to thank for that, but what Charlie sucks at is life. For the past 20 years, Charlie Sheen has allegedly assaulted, threatened, harassed, abused, and – in one incident – shot women. I in no way condone his behaviour, yet by watching his shows I realise I am contributing to the idea that this is acceptable, as are millions of other women. It’s not that I don’t care – I do, yet I feel that I have been propelled into Charlie’s charisma, whatever that is, and tend to disassociate Charlie the man from Charlie the actor.
As I sat down to watch the new season of Big Brother last week I, too, was trying to guess which secret belonged to which male housemate. Some included – I am a multi-millionaire; I have the IQ of a genius or I am a juvenile offender. My friend turned to me and said “some women would be oohing and ahhing over the millionaire and I’d be like ooh a criminal huh?” as she let out a roaring laugh. And I agreed with her – women are notorious for loving a bad boy; for heaven’s sake we’re lapping up controlling, domineering men like they are going out of style as far as erotic fiction is concerned.
So what is it about Charlie Sheen that makes him bulletproof? I hate saying that especially given his history – but I, just like a lot of Australians, tuned into the new series Anger Management this week and I was shocked most of all that his ex-wife Denise Richards is a guest star in a future episode. Let’s not forget that Sheen called the accusations of his behaviour made by his ex-wife “laughable and inane”. In 2006, Denise Richards filed for divorce from Sheen making allegations in court documents about his transgressions (including child porn, obsessive gambling, drug use, and prostitutes).
Now I don’t know the in’s and out’s of their short-lived marriage but I do wonder why some women go back. Tracie Egan Morrissey wrote a brilliant piece for Jezebel last year about Charlie Sheen’s history of violence toward women. In part she wrote:
“Sheen maintains that every woman who has made allegations – or taken out restraining orders – against him is lying, despite the fact that he’s plead guilty in two court cases regarding domestic abuse. Sheen’s m.o. seems to be to invalidate these women’s claims by accusing them of being money hungry or fame hungry. It’s interesting for him to consider women looking for money, particularly at the end of the relationship with him, as some kind of character flaw, considering his well-known practice of paying women to party with him, as well as his penchant for hookers.”
Throughout my life I have experienced abuse from men – both sexual and emotional. While I’m not comfortable sharing the exact details of these events, I will say this: On more than one occasion I have blamed myself. I have looked back on what happened to me; how my trust was betrayed and thought surely there must have been something I did to make this man behave in such a way. I just have to find it so I can move on and so I can let go of the past.
But you know what? I didn’t deserve it and I didn’t see it coming. I am a woman and I deserve as much respect as the man standing next to me. No woman deserves to be emotionally, physically or sexually abused and no woman should live in fear thinking it might happen to her.
I will admit my fault here. I shouldn’t be watching Charlie Sheen’s shows but I do find them genuinely funny. That is a flaw that I am willing to wear. Sheen does not deserve his success – especially not after the 20+ years of his history of violence against women. It seems that the violence has taken a back seat to the actor’s partying, wild lifestyle, and battle with addiction that has been part of the narrative of his bad boy persona that has actually propelled his success rather than hindered it.
I contribute to this and it baffles me why I continue to watch given his history. Am I just one of those idiots who accepts violence against women as something we just have to put up with? The problem is too big. Let someone else deal with it. Let someone else boycott his shows and turn a blind eye.
I believe the bigger problem lies with the television studios who continue to hire him and let the public believe that it is perfectly okay to hit and abuse women and still be a successful actor. Something has to give but I don’t believe Charlie Sheen’s luck has run out yet. In his own words he is still “winning”.
Did you watch Two and a Half Men or Anger Management? Can you separate the violent history of Charlie Sheen and Charlie the actor? Are we condoning domestic violence as a society by the ratings these shows continue to achieve?