You may be beyond sick and tired of hearing about the debacle when actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock during the 2022 Oscars. However, it brings up an interesting topic of conversation concerning appropriate conduct, especially as it reflects defending a woman’s honor.
The unfortunate episode during this year’s Oscar was spawned when Chris Rock made a joke about Will Smith’s wife concerning her bald head (it is alleged she is suffering from alopecia). Although Smith found it funny at first, he felt the need to defend his wife’s honor when she looked at him displeased. He resorted to violence, walking onto the stage and slapping a bewildered Chris Rock, who refused to physically retaliate—opting to take the high road.
The millions of people watching the show thought it was part of the program at first. But for the most part, they became disenchanted when they realized it was real when Smith reverted to shouting derogatory expletives at the comedian from his seat. It was bad enough Smith had resorted to violence, slapping another person, but his vulgar tirade during a live telecast being shown throughout the world only added to the embarrassment. His lack of professionalism and self-control was inexcusable regardless of his reasoning. His actions went against everything we were taught as children and adults. Keep your hands to yourself and refrain from violence when possible.
No doubt Smith’s wife may have felt offended by the joke, but that is what comedians do. They make jokes at everyone’s expense, and usually, no one is exempt. Smith’s actions overshadowed all the highlights and achievements of the recipients receiving awards during the show. It was a selfish act manifesting toxic masculinity geared more at feeding his barbaric ego than defending his wife. There were so many other options he could have entertained without resorting to violence.
While the majority of watchers felt Smith’s actions were unwarranted, you find some who felt they were. I would remind supporters of Smith’s conduct (especially women supporting the violence exhibited) to visit the cemetery and see all the dead men who resorted to violence in defending a woman’s honor, whether warranted or unwarranted. Believe it or not, some women like to provoke incidents demanding their husband or boyfriend defend their honor.
No one should be disrespected but resorting to violence should not be an option, regardless of what you have been taught. We are supposed to live in a civil and humane society where you should be able to get your point across without resorting to violence. Most verbal attacks against a woman’s honor, if approached correctly, would meet be met with an apology; possibly be ignored, or be considered worth walking away from.
While we are talking about disrespecting women and defending their honor, where are the women demanding men defend (speak out against) their honor from all the sexually explicit derogatory dehumanization exhibited by some rappers? Where’s the outrage? Where is the public outcry to stop this sexual exploitation of women?
I guess we pick and choose our battles, and how we choose to be represented varies. Forgive me for being out of touch or naïve, but I take no pleasure in seeing Blacks instrumental in exploiting themselves and their race at the expense of degrading our women. So I ask Black women this: When is it appropriate to have your honor defended if you are not offended by the vile vulgar exploitation of women by insensitive rappers? Do you boycott their records, and refuse to have degrading songs played at parties and clubs you frequent? Do you threaten to boycott national sponsors of these rappers?
The message is that you do not have to resort to violence to get your point across when hearing things you adamantly disapprove of. I find there is nothing sadder than willingly participating in your own disrespect. Let’s recognize and stop rewarding bad behavior that degrades our race. Let’s wake up and stop making excuses or rationalizing our culpability in how we are perceived as African Americans.