Arts and Culture

Bizarre battery talk flies around slap on The Bachelor

If anyone is in need of further proof that we live in strange and litigious times, they need look no further than the gossip that's arisen around the first episode of ABC's The Bachelor, which aired yesterday. A slap in the face delivered by contestant Chantal O'Brien to bachelor Brad Womack sparked talk of battery charges for O'Brien -- in spite of Womack's insistence that he would not file them -- thus proving that our dumb world has completely lost its mind. [jump]

In a continuing saga that started this morning, a TMZ reporter asked Womack if he'll consider pressing charges, to which he gave a firm "No," explaining that he thought he "deserved it." (If you'll recall, in 2007 Womack became the first bachelor in the show's history to reject every contestant; O'Brien gave his rejection record as the reason for the slap.) Nevertheless, TMZ wondered what the difference was between that slap and the case of Amber Portwood, who was recently charged with felony domestic battery and child neglect for repeatedly striking her babydaddy on episodes of MTV's Teen Mom when their one-year-old daughter was present. Here's the promo video for the show, by the way:

Then it got even weirder. Later today, noted feminist and discrimination attorney Gloria Allred got involved for some reason, helpfully illustrating for TMZ the difference between the Portwood beatings and the O'Brien slap, saying the latter was an "isolated instance" and O'Brien shouldn't be prosecuted. Not to be so easily convinced, TMZ pointed out that Mel Gibson is being investigated for another "isolated slap" delivered to babymama Oksana Gregorieva -- which is kind of a weird comparison, since Mel Gibson has a well-known reputation for being a menacing psycho, as extensively reported by TMZ. Plus, that slap knocked out Gregorieva's dental veneers.

But if TMZ is just playing the Devil's advocate here, a quick examination of the YouTube comments for the Bachelor promo reveals that a lot of people share the feeling -- somewhat passionately, it turns out. Here's one of the top-rated comments:

because of feminism and the media women now see slapping and kicking guys in the groin as natural as breathing for CHEATING and eveb lesser offenses. it wouldnt be kosher the other way around. it astounds me what a sick brainwashed society and these abusive women cant even see that. SICK FU**S

Indeed, anonymous YouTube commenter, our society does seem sick and brainwashed, but it's not because empowered militant feminists are going around wantonly slapping men and kicking them in the groin. If you think about it, in fact, the slap seems sort of anti-feminist, a vaguely impotent gesture of retaliation on behalf of "every woman in America" for being rejected and thus implying that every woman in America depends on Womack's masculine approval.

Ah, but that's not really the point, either. The point is, who cares? Not to get too heavy here, but in a society where 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are assaulted by a domestic partner annually (that's according to the department of justice), it seems a particularly repulsive red herring to get so worked up over a dumb publicity stunt.