It’s wasn’t Charlie Sheen’s possibly deranged, potentially BS and certainly attention-seeking behavior that has disturbed me over the last week or so. It’s been the way in which this behavior has been greeted largely as a joke — with phrases like “winning” and “tiger’s blood” being used as punchlines and Sheen in general being greeted with smirks and a record number of Twitter followers. One man even immortalized Sheen’s insane media blitz with a particularly ugly tattoo which he said was the talk of the bar after he got it done. Perhaps more confusing and disappointing was Jezebel blogger Jessica Coen posting an article about how she “Played Phone Tag with Charlie Sheen,” pretending she was interested in a job as a “Goddess” at Sheen’s newly-christened Sober Valley Lodge, even sending a photo …
… of herself to the star and admitting that she was kind of hoping he’d call.
Sure, plenty of people are denouncing Sheen as a deranged drug addict and a bad father, but it seems that the coverage of Sheen has been far more indulgent of the perpetually-troubled actor than it was for, say, Britney Spears whose motherhood and sanity seemed to be in constant question because she shaved her head, gained weight and was photographed going into gas station bathrooms in bare feet. That seems rather tame compared to declaring that you’re descended from Adonis and brandishing a machete on a rooftop, doesn’t it?
And yet when Gisele Harrison of The Windsor Star reposted an article on her Facebook page about Sheen’s history of violence toward women, and his misogyny in general, she was met with mostly female commenters arguing that these women were just fame-seeking gold-diggers. Gisele responded:
Of course, I posted a reply on my wall addressing each point, in particular that years of therapy to work through the trauma of having a knife held to your throat was a high price to pay for 15 minutes of fame.
While Harrison felt disheartened by this response, she used it to fuel a talk she was set to do for International Women’s Day, looking at the role models of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Harrison noted that her ambitions as a young woman were career-minded, focused on being an independent and intellectual young woman on her own:
I recalled how as a young girl I wanted to wear smart clothes, live on my own in a cute apartment in a big city, go on dates, have a great job, and wonderfully supportive friends just like Mary Tyler Moore.
Harrison wonders whether Snooki or Sheen’s Goddesses aren’t some kind of twisted new standard for women — finding the fastest and easiest way to make money while looking as young and trashy as possible doing it.
Because while I am a huge fan of Jessica Coen’s work, don’t get me wrong, there had to be some small part of her that did crave Sheen’s desire and attention. Sure, she’d never actually consent to being a Goddess (I hope), but the fact remains that a self-declared feminist got some kind of jolly from texting and flirting with a woman-beating drug abuser.
Because, unfortunately, I’m afraid Harrison might be right — we have swapped the young, eager career-woman for the reality show drunk. And the real question is: what are we planning to do about it? Because Sheen’s behavior isn’t funny or affable or cute or off-beat. He’s a father of five who has held a knife to the throat of the mother of two of his children, threatened the life of the mother of two more, shot his fiance in the arm and given a woman a split lip. And we need to stop acting as though any woman he abuses or degrades is somehow asking for it because she might get a stack of cash in exchange for her safety or dignity.