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Charlie Sheen and the Sliding Scale of Domestic Violence

Everyone agrees that Charlie Sheen abuses women. But strangely enough, a lot of people don't seem to care about it very much. Or lump it in under the category of "bad boy behavior."

Why? Because Charlie Sheen beats the wrong kind of woman. (Or, if you're the abuser, I guess it would be the right kind.)

Remember when those pictures of Rihanna's bruised face were splashed across the news? Chris Brown was instantly and permanently blackballed. Wrigley stopped airing his gum commercial. His professional life was essentially over in an instant.

But Charlie Sheen? Meh.

First, a quick run-down of the crimes Charlie Sheen has committed. Not to retread old ground, but because a lot of people - myself among them - may not fully grasp the scope of this problem.

In the last 20 years, Charlie Sheen has:
  • Shot Kelly Preston in the arm.
  • Hit an unnamed college student in the head when she refused to have sex with him.
  • Threw Brittany Ashland to the floor during a fight at his mansion.
  • Shoved and threatened to kill Denise Richards.
  • Held a knife to the throat of Brooke Muller.
  • So terrified Capri Anderson during a "rampage" that she locked herself in the bathroom.
  • Threatened to cut off Brooke Muller's head, box it up, and ship it to her mother.


What's clear from this litany is that women are not safe in Charlie Sheen's presence. So why the lack of outrage? Frankly, because Sheen chooses to abuse women who newscasters are likely to refer to as "whores" or "gold diggers." Even Arianna Huffington, who frankly I would have thought better of, sarcastically Tweeted that these women "symbolize modesty, loyalty, and good taste."

Unfortunately, it's one of the unspoken quirks of our culture that if you work in the sex industry, nothing that happens to you really matters. If Charlie Sheen had frightened, I don't know, Natalie Portman so badly that she locked herself in the bathroom fearing for her safety, you'd better believe the public would be howling for blood. But since it was an adult movie star, no one even bothers to shrug.

This societal apathy is why serial killers always pick prostitutes as their victims. Prostitutes are disposable human beings. They don't matter. Who cares?

I don't half wonder if Charlie Sheen picks sex industry workers for girlfriends for the same reason that Gary Ridgway picked south Seattle street prostitutes for murder victims. Ridgway probably would have been convicted a lot sooner if he had been inviting pretty blonde wealthy suburbanite kids into his van. And I have no doubt that Charlie Sheen would have lost his job years ago if he had been punching "better" women in the head. You know; women who matter.

Instead, Sheen is the Crazy Flavor of the Month. We humor him, because his rants amuse us. Frat boys (and their ilk) idolize Sheen's idealized lifestyle - rolling in cash; partying with beautiful women. The fact that he also threatens those women at knife point? Shruggo!

I mean, heck, at least Gary Busey has never hurt anyone but himself. And what can you say about someone who looks bad compared to Gary Busey?

Photo credit: Flickr/jarvic7