By now, many of you may have seen this news story, from a picture posted by Courtney Joye Williams, recounting her unfortunate experience encountering this sign in a Plano, Texas bar called Scruffy Duffies, and the management’s refusal to apologize or take the sign down.
I don’t think she overreacted. I think that anything can trigger a reaction to a traumatic event, and a sign that appears to be making fun of domestic violence would certainly be a reasonable trigger to a victim of domestic violence.
The #YesAllWomen has been a powerful movement that rose quickly in response to the misogynistic rantings and actions of the new poster child for male entitlement, gunman Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and himself in what seems to be a response to constant rejection by women. No matter who educated and informed I try to be, as a man, there are aspects to being a woman that I will never have considered until they’re brought to light.
When a woman makes a video, most comments are about tearing apart her looks. Or if they'd "do" her. With a man, almost none. #YesAllWomen
— Felicia Day (@feliciaday) May 26, 2014
Misogyny and domestic violence may never be eliminated in our society, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t as a people strive towards reducing it as much as humanly (or manly) possible. Stop giving women the reason to hold their keys as potential weapons when they walk to their cars. Stop making women feel dirty or wrong or guilty for dressing in any way that they wish. Stop belittling our opposite gender. Women are the ones who live longer, have higher thresholds for pain tolerance, and communicate better – they should be the ones in charge anyway!
That being said:
The sign in question does not glorify domestic violence, nor does it turn it into a joke. I make that statement even ignoring the context that it was written by a female bartender, who statistically, may have been a victim at some point in her life. It is a joke, yes. It’s a joke that’s been going around for many years, but the fact that it’s a joke doesn’t mean that domestic violence is the butt of said joke.
A good joke is one that starts somewhere familiar and ends up somewhere unexpected.
The original joke was “I like my coffee like I like my men: black”. The origin is unknown, though I remember it from the movie Airplane! and I’ve also heard that it was a line in an early episode of “Good Times”.
Over time, that joke has evolved (or devolved). As new generations of comedians have attempted to put a fresh take on an old joke, we’ve seen variations such as the following:
“I like my coffee like I like my women: black and bitter.”
“I like my coffee like I like my women: hot and in a large cup.”
“I like my coffee like I like my men: pale and weak.”
“I like my coffee like I like my women: covered in bees!” -Eddie Izzard
“I like my coffee like I like my men: ground up and in my freezer.”
As it’s changed, it’s turned into a simple formula:
I like my ______ (usually a noun) like I like my ______ (usually a noun): _______ (usually an adjective).
Any two words that can be described with the same adjective would be appropriate to fit in here. And in this case, a bar advertising its domestic beer specials chose to use domestic violence to make the joke.
The reason that we know that this joke doesn’t make fun of domestic violence is in the simple fact that the word “violence” is unnecessary for the joke to be funny. Anything else in our society that’s called “domestic ______” could have been used for the exact same impact. Domestic war on terror? Domestic highly dangerous Africanized killer bees? Whatever. It doesn’t matter. The use of “domestic violence” was lazy and easy, but it wasn’t misogynistic, it wasn’t hateful, and it certainly wasn’t mocking something as tragic as domestic violence.
Now, if this had been me, would I have posted it? Probably not. There had to be another way to put a twist on it that would still make the intended point, even if it required a few more words:
I like my beer like I like my women: strong, bold, independent, and domestic, but only meaning “in the US”, not like she wouldn’t have an equal partner taking care of the household.
I like my beer like I like my violence: domestic, as in there is way too much of it, and we need to eliminate it now. So drink up domestic beer and get rid of domestic violence.
And finally, since I don’t drink beer:
I like my beer like I like my violence: nonexistent and accompanied by a fruity vodka drink.