In the latest episode of what can be described as "normalizing abuse," Lebanese singer Melissa (birth name Myriam Shehab) confidently voiced her regressive thoughts and opinions surrounding an epidemic issue.
The 37-year-old appeared on the Lebanese talk show Menna w Jerr - hosted by Pierre Rabbat - in February. During the show, the singer was asked how she would react if her potential lover slapped her across the face.
Her initial response was an extremely problematic Arabic quote which states:
"A hit from your lover is as sweet as raisins."
She then goes on to contemplate her response to the question, as if the question requires a lengthy analysis.
She then poses a question that justifies certain cases of abuse
"In this scenario, did he [the man] hit me just to flaunt his manhood or because I committed something wrong?" she asked.
Her question in and of itself reinforces the vile societal justifications and intense victim-blaming with regards to abuse. It suggests that physical abuse (in whatever shape or form) is OK if the woman is at fault. As though shamelessly validating domestic violence wasn't enough, the singer goes on to play the victim-blaming card.
Since when is physical force the answer to any type of wrongdoing? It's blatantly unacceptable - whatever the circumstances. The fact that Melissa took more than a millisecond to respond to a question (which has an obvious answer) goes on to prove the dark age mindset engraved in many young Arabs. The justifications of violence, femicide, and rape are not a problem of the past, but a problem of the present. Of the future.
A snippet of the episode
The host - Rabbat - responds to Melissa's question with another question: "I don't understand, you think some women deserve to be hit?" he said.
The singer responds by saying "of course not, but sometimes women ..." before Rabbat cuts her off again. "If it's a quick slap you know as a result of jealousy or something, then it's OK," Melissa said before contradicting herself by saying she's against abuse of any form ... unless "it's a joke," she continued.
Watch the full video here. It first aired on MTV Lebanon on Feb. 12.
Will the victim-blaming ever end?
A few months ago, Lebanese non-profit organization ABAAD revealed the intensity of victim-blaming in rape cases across the country in a campaign titled Men El Felten? which is Arabic for "Shame on Who?"
The campaign was launched in an effort to change social perceptions that "stigmatize and shame female rape victims, pushing them to cover up the crime."
The video campaign was the result of a social experiment conducted in various areas across Lebanon. The experiment sought to observe the reactions of people upon learning a woman - named Manal - was raped and left stranded in the streets. Manal played the role of a rape victim in the experiment, however, the reactions filmed were not staged. "Are you on drugs," one man can be heard saying in the video, completely dismissing the woman's story. Unfortunately, the majority of the reactions from people resorted to victim-blaming and shaming.