Double Standard Abuse Female On Male / Live-Action TV
The example from 24 is especially gut-wrenching: a man is nearly tortured to death by a (male) terrorist and is in the hospital recovering after it happened. His girlfriend sees him there depressed after what he went through and repeatedly slaps him in an attempt to invoke Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!, telling him to stop feeling sorry for himself after he nearly died. This is apparently just what he needed, as he returned to work later that day.
Played straight in The Newsroom. Both seasons have instances of women taking out their frustration on men by using physical violence. One example is Sloan Sabbith pushing Neal Sampat against the wall just for making up imaginary insults for her. Neal also gets punched in the stomach later by a woman, for something someone else did to her.
Played for laughs in an episode of According to Jim when Jim, Andy, and Andy's ex-girlfriend's ex-boyfriend goes to her cabin for a weekend of fishing and relaxing to make Andy forget about her. Jim goes to a nearby bar (to get booze) where, as luck would have it, it's "ladies' night." He mistakes all the women for men and then they make sexual advances on him; when he says he's married, they dismiss it by stating "What did you expect coming here dressed like that on ladies' night?" (Jim is, as always, in jeans and a flannel shirt; apparently in the bar's area this is a very sexually provocative outfit, as even the bartender makes a remark about his "sexy attire on ladies' night.") He proceeds to give the ladies lap dances and is later shown being won in a poker game and having his shirt and belt stuffed with dollar bills.
America's Funniest Home Videos regularly plays a video of an angry woman at a wedding party who punches a man repeatedly in the head when he attempts to remove the bride's garter with his teeth. Would AFV think a video of a man punching a women in the head be funny enough to play repeatedly year after year?
Cops tends to highlight domestic abuse cases where the woman is clearly in the wrong but the man is still to blame. One episode had the girlfriend accusing her boyfriend of hitting her. While the boyfriend was bloodied, scratched up, and his shirt was ripped apart, the girlfriend didn't have a mark on her. Even more outrageous was the discovery of drugs in the boyfriend's car when we see the girlfriend put the bag in the car on camera behind the cops backs. Still, it's the boyfriend who's arrested for assault and drug possession, though the girlfriend was clearly the aggressor and had planted evidence deliberately in his car. This is, sadly, all-too-often Truth in Television, as statistically authorities are far more likely to take the woman's side in a domestic disturbance call, regardless of the evidence.
Closely subverted in an episode of Friends, in which Joey's new girlfriend is constantly hitting him, hard (though not as a punishment, she's just trying to be playful), and his friends all laugh at him for being terrified of her - until Rachel gets a taste of it and understands their mistake. The episode implies that said new girlfriend is fully aware of this trope and is using it under the excuse of playfulness. When Joey actually protests the hitting, she says "Oh, you're making fun of me! Stop making fun of me!" while smiling and hitting him even harder than before. At the very least she thinks she can get away with hitting people if she smiles while she does it, since she does it to Rachel when Rachel says something she doesn't like much.
You'd think that, but Happy Endings played it for laughs when Max kept an injured Penny drugged and cut her off from her doctor so he could flirt with her hot physical therapist.
Lampshaded in the Red Dwarf special "Can't Smeg, Won't Smeg", when Lister comments about whenever a woman can't come up with a good comeback, they always hit people. Kochanski responds by whacking him with a frying pan.
Tool Academy frequently shows the girlfriends slapping and punching their Jerk Ass boyfriends after their improprieties have been revealed. If the resident therapist ever suggests they not resort to violence, it's never shown.
On Jersey Shore, MTV was pressured into not airing the footage of Snooki being punched in the face by a man in a bar. Yet, clips of the girls fighting each other, JWoww hitting The Situation, and Sammi punching Ronnie in the face were A-okay.
The relationship between Sam and Freddie is built on this. It's usually played straight, such as "iMeet Fred" (Sam beat Freddie with a tennis racquet until it broke in half, and later pushed him out of a treehouse and then jumped down on top of him) or "iSell Penny-Tees" (Sam pushed Freddie onto a couch and spanked him).
The episode when the kids find Lewbert's ex-girlfriend Marta, a woman who was so miserable to him that he faked his own death and changed his identity just to get away from her. When the kids witness her beating him and forcing attacking him with scissors (to give him a haircut) they at least seem appropriately horrified, admitting she's as much of a "monstress" as Lewbert said she was, but her abuse of Lewbert (especially considering he's an antagonist on the show and a thoroughly unpleasant character any way you look at him) is still largely Played for Laughs in a way that would never fly if the genders were reversed.
In "iFight Shelby Marx," Carly, Sam, and Shelby all gang up on Nevel, and it is implied that they beat him up. Some viewers have tried to defend their actions by talking about how Nevel tried to manipulate Shelby into beating up Carly by falsely claiming that Carly had deliberately tried to injure Shelby's grandmother but the fact remains that it would never be considered acceptable if the genders were reversed. Add in that Shelby is a professional fighter, and it could literally be assault with a deadly weapon.
An aversion happens in the first post-McLeaning episode of Charmed. Paige, a social worker and newcomer to the craft, is put through a tough moral decision regarding an abused child. After the climax of the story, where she nearly uses her powers to teleport the father's heart from his body, the man turns to his wife, arms clasped protectively around his son's shoulders, and says, "I'm not gonna let you hurt our son anymore."
In another episode "Battle of the Hexes". Billie had been acting like a Straw Feminist, convinced women were the better sex. A spell causes all the girls in her class to start attacking all the boys. When she sees this, she's alarmed and says "this isn't right". But when Phoebe and Piper are talking about it later, they are making some light of the situation which they certainly wouldn't be doing if it had been the boys attacking the girls.
Tyler Perry's House of Payne spends an episode on domestic abuse featuring a woman being beaten by her husband, a man being repeatedly stomped and electrocuted by his wife and two other women while they tell a 911 operator he's trying to kill them, and Delante being beaten within an inch of his life by two women he's dating. Only one of these is ever treated as domestic abuse or anything short of hilarious, no points for guessing which.
Averted in a recent storyline of the Irish soap Fair City. Suzanne Halpin's abuse of her husband Damien swiftly escalates from constant insults to a once per episode No-Holds-Barred Beatdown (this is rendered fairly tragic when one considers that Damien Wouldn't Hit a Girl, even in obvious self-defense, due to his own father's abuse of his mother), and is treated with appropriate outrage and shock by everyone who finds out, including Suzanne's own father, Bela. His reaction is to publicly, tearfully apologize to Damien for what his daughter has put him through. Now, if only the acting quality weren't so horrendous...
Played straight in the TV miniseries Betty Broderick. The title character spends several YEARS stalking, harassing and terrorizing her Jerkass ex-husband and his new wife before finally shooting them dead. But Betty's behavior is somehow justified because her husband dumped her for another woman and SHE is the one made out to be the victim/heroine in the ensuing murder trial. The fact that Ms. Broderick was played by Meredith Baxter-Birney also makes it Hilarious in Hindsight; Birney herself probably wouldn't have minded.
Anytime Lois Lane attacks a main character in Smallville, it's an example of this trope. One example had her kicking a man somewhat painfully for removing her from the premises. The thing that makes this even worse is that he was a security guard, and she was trespassing.
The Cosby Show: There have been times when Cliff forgot something about his wedding (which Clair seems to quiz him on regularly) and she "puts him in a headlock." This includes incredibly minor details like what color his tie was or what kind of gown his mother-in-law wore.
Most soap operas are guilty of this (compare the way betrayed wives are allowed to treat cheating husband with the reverse), especially the Australian ones. Home and Away had local cop Angelo Rosetta, who'd been turned into a Type II or III Anti-Hero, twice assaulted by a woman simply for trying to solve crimes and arresting suspects. He actually tried to charge one of them with assaulting a police officer, only for his fellow officers to let her go on the grounds they liked her more than him. Rival show Neighbours isn't as bad on physical violence - case in point, Philip and Loretta Martin's storyline in 1985 - but does seem determined to have its male characters humiliated by the female ones as often as possible. (A 2011 episode saw Doctor Karl Kennedy, the show's regular figure of funeven when he's right, forced to dress up as a woman in public and loudly declare women were better than men by his wife and her best friend. Which is a normal day for him.)
On Robin Hood, Marian punches Robin in the stomach so hard that he doubles over in pain just because she's frustrated. This is played for laughs.
The sketch mocking Tiger Woods' alleged abuse by his wife was performed on the exact same episode where Rihanna was the musical guest, just to bring that point home, and yet, when an Entertainment Weekly writer brought up this point after the SNL episode aired, most commenters told her (yes, the writer is female) to shut up and let them enjoy the few funny moments that SNL has left; completely oblivious to this Double Standard, with very little criticism towards Elin Woods. During the Chris Brown debacle months earlier, they were singing a different tune.
A much older example dates back to the early eighties. In one sketch, a husband (played by Gary Kroeger) arrives home late from a party to an angry wife (played by Mary Gross) who proceeds to viciously attack him and then leave with their children (but not before the children throw loud raspberries at him). When the husband's friend comes over, he figues out that his wife attacked him and teases him for it. Next, a police officer arrives to check up on things, and the husband tries to report the beating, but the policeman doesn't believe him. After they leave, just to rub things in further, the wife comes back, tries coaxing him into opening the door to let her back in, and when he doesn't trust her, she busts through the door and then continues attacking him. While this may have been seen as hilariously ironic back when this sketch aired, by today's standards it hits a little too close to home for many...
Everybody Loves Raymond is the modern Trope Codifier, with Debra attacking Ray played for humor. Debra seems to delight in beating up her husband Raymond for the most minor mistakes, even when he's done nothing wrong, such as in "The Ride-Along" where she hits him in the chest multiple times after he reveals he accidentally witnessed an attempted robbery. Two seasons later, in "Bad Moon Rising", he finally calls her out for acting this way and she responds by shoving him into the bookshelf so hard that books actually fall (it was that time of the month for her, which only adds to the Unfortunate Implications). The most maddening thing is that Debra gets the studio audience crazy with laughter and cheers every time she does it, (which provides us with even moreUnfortunate Implications) and the worst she gets is other characters making lighthearted jokes about her anger issues and cruelty (Ray calling her a "cranky yell machine" but then being instantly rebuked and cowed back into submission by Debra) and then calling Ray a wuss without any actual sympathy. Debra is never actually made to apologize for the pattern of behavior she displays towards Ray, and often it is Ray who gets humiliated and/or forced to apologize at the end of each episode.
When Doug is so traumatized by Carrie's emotional and physical abuse that he ends up talking to a support group for abused men, the episode ends with Carrie giving a speech to the support group about how Doug's actions justified her behavior.
The episode The Waitress definitely comes to mind with this trope. In the episode, Doug has to deal with an incredibly rude waitress who not only does not serve him at the same time as his friend, but refuses to get his ready chicken wings that remain sitting on the counter. When Doug goes up and gets the chicken wings himself, the restaurant's manager punishes the waitress for not delivering the plate to Doug by sending her home. The waitress then declares she's going to beat Doug up when he leaves and spends the remainder of the episode stalking around the front of the restaurant, waiting for Doug to leave. Not only is this Played for Laughs, but nobody calls the cops about this obvious harassment and Doug is portrayed as being the wrong party. And it's still Played for Laughs when the waitress beats him up off-screen!
Titus averts this, with the title character actually showing the after effects of a fight with his ex-girlfriend. This was based on an actual relationshipChristopher Titus had, and the episode actually showed him going to her funeral to make sure she was really dead, he was so scared of her. In the stand-up routine the series was based on, he goes into far more detail about the relationship, including the time when the police showed up at the house and arrested him, despite the fact that not only was he the one who'd called them in the first place, but he'd been making such calls on a regular basis. In fact, in one instance he'd even claimed to have been the abuser just so they'd get him away from her.
In one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will goes on a date with a pretty girl who at first seems rather sweet. However, at the restaurant, she completely changes, speaking to him in a rude, snide voice, she tells him where they will go to college, what jobs they will both have, how many kids they will have and what genders, she tells him what to eat and what not to eat (saying that if he orders cottage cheese now he'll have a heart attack at middle age and leave her with the kids), and when he looks at the waitress to place his order, she yells at both him and the waitress. Later, she chooses his wardrobe and buys him a beeper with the obvious intent of keeping track of him 24/7 (in real life, behavior like this is a huge indicator of an abusive relationship). When Will tells his aunt and uncle about this, they shrug it off, saying that the dictating what jobs and how many children they'll have is a sign that she has goals, and her getting angry over him looking at another girl, and telling him what he can and can't eat is just proof that she doesn't want to lose him. By the episode's end, she's hanging on his every word, eagerly promising to handwrite his class notes and send out his mail—and with one disapproving look from him, apologizing and quickly saying she'll deliver it door to door. This has major Unfortunate Implications: Will is told, after the girl becomes Carlton's doormat, that when a girl acts abusive like she did, it's his job to "man up", and show her who the man is in the relationship. Overall, the way it's delivered comes off as more "it's your fault if you're abused because you didn't yell at your abuser enough."
Memphis Beat has an interesting take on this. The trope is initially played straight and Played for Laughs, but eventually subverted. One of the male police officers - a very big man and a sort of Cloud Cuckoo Lander - is seen apparently taking quite the verbal batterment from his wife on the phone, then later in the episode comes in with odd bandages. Three other officers - Whitehead, Dwight, and their female boss - ask him what happened, and he says, "My wife stabbed me" as though it were no big deal. Dwight and the boss don't so much as bat their eyes, but old-fashioned, curmedgeonly Whitehead tells him he should stand up to his wife. At the end of the episode, Dwight tells the officer he shouldn't let his wife push him around, and the end of the episode shows him standing beside her in the booking line - presumably she's being booked for assault. It went from Actually Pretty Funny to Tear Jerker pretty quickly.
In the first episode of Vexed, Kate physically attacks her husband when she (wrongly) thinks he's having an affair, resulting in him spending the whole of the second episode on crutches. It's not played entirely for laughs - they're seen attending couples counselling and their marriage is acknowledged to be on the rocks - but by the end of the episode it appears that he's prepared to take her back. An abused woman taking her husband back after he put her on crutches would be an unambiguous Downer Ending.
Discovery ID's Wicked Women plays this trope straight with their advertising, in which a sexy woman lounges at the side of a pool as her dead husband floats behind her with a knife in his back. Ironically, the programming itself does not. "Deadly Women" and "Wicked Attraction" - the two shows that fill the "Wicked Women" programming block - are filled with terror and the latter doesn't shy away from portraying women as the instigator in episodes where it appears that the woman was the dominant parter in Real Life - although occasionally parents of the bitches show up to protest that it must have been the evil man who forced their sweet little Angel May to gleefully hack up old people. "Deadly Women" has done several episodes about women who were abusive towards the husbands they eventually murdered, and yes they call it abuse. Never Trust a Trailer.
Hawthorne plays this alarmingly straight. Christina's Bratty Teenage Daughter Camille comes in with a black eye, Christina manages to get that it was her boyfriend Marcus who hit her out of a bunch of whining and silence, and chases Marcus through the ER throwing things at him. Later she finds out Marcus - the ultimate Nice Guy - never touched Camille. She was whaling on him after his friend forwarded a nude pic to him and she mistakenly believed that he was cheating on her, and in the process tripped and hit her face on a defibrillator. (They were in an unmanned ambulance at the time.) Christina's response? "What were you thinking, laying your hands on a man? Do you know what he could have done to you?" So ... a boy hitting a girl is a crime bad enough to justify being chased through his place of work and having objects thrown at his head, but a girl hitting a boy is only bad because he might have to hurt her defending himself. Furthermore, Camille was perfectly content letting her mother believe Marcus hit her until Christina called in a police officer friend of hers. Later Camille tells Marcus that she only went so crazy on him because she loves him.
Quinn is constantly verbally abusive towards Finn, repeatedly telling him he's stupid, attempting to control his hobbies and activities. She is also willing to let Finn raise and pay for a child that isn't even his (he's in the dark about this fact), pretty massively affecting his life. When he eventually finds out the kid isn't his and dumps her, it's clear that we're supposed to see him in the right and her as a bitch. Despite that she and Finn resume their relationship for some time the next season.
Terri does quite a bit of the same to Will, and has the audacity to wonder why she needed to resort to faking a pregnancy to keep Will around. When Will finds out and confronts her (in a fairly reasonable way, given the circumstances; he grabs her by the wrist and yells at her), many viewers responded by saying that Will was the bad guy in that situation.
It is treated seriously, however, when Ryder tells the Glee Club that he has been sexually abused by a babysitter when he was younger. The boys say that he was lucky, and that having sex with an older woman is every boy's dream, but Will and the girls are appropriately horrified.
That's My Bush! inverted this by parodying The Honeymooners' famous line, "One of these days... to the moon, Alice!" Bush would say, "One of these days, Laura, I'm gonna punch you in the face!". He never hit his wife and in the show itself, it was just supposed to be a joke. It received a lot of complaints from audience members who felt that even joking about such a thing was terrible. The creators of the show (Trey Parker and Matt Stone) must've heard said complaints because later episodes change the line to, "I'm gonna punch you in the face! Then the stomach! Then the face again!"
"Taboo" - a man and his 20-year-old daughter were having an affair. Despite their protests that it was consensual (arguable but near-impossible to prove) and the DA's assurances that it was a relatively low-level crime, Anvilicious Olivia Benson went storming around determined to prosecute the man for incest (ignoring the fact that the adult woman would also have to be prosecuted), attempting to browbeat the girl into admitting that he raped her and had knowledge of the two children of theirs she killed (which he didn't). She even yelled, "SO ELLA [the woman] GETS ATTEMPTED MURDER AND HE GETS OFF?" at one point — well, yes, Olivia, that is what happens when a woman commits infanticide.
In a Season 12 episode, Olivia argues that, if a man and woman go upstairs drunk to have sex, it's all the man's fault. Regardless of circumstances. So, if the man and woman go upstairs equally drunk and the man is the same/more affected than the woman, it's the man's fault! If a woman gets slightly drunk and the man is completely hammered to the point of being unable to understand what's going on - it's not woman/male rape, it's the man's fault!
A man was raped by several women, and Elliot is reluctant to believe him or go after the offenders. Later on there was an episode with a teenage boy who revealed he had been repeatedly molested as a little boy by his babysitter, and both subvert this trope by reacting with due horror and concern.
It also comes up in-universe. In the case of rape, most of the female perps prey on younger males, and if anyone outside SVU comments on it, expect at least a few mentions of how "lucky" the victim is to be having sex with a hot older woman. There's one episode where a teenage boy is raped by a male coach who catfished him by posing as a sexy female teacher known for having sex with her students. His own parents decide not to let him testify once it comes out that he was victimized by a man, specifically because if it had been a woman "that would be one thing, but..." .
Hardcore Pawn shows Ashley doing thing over a few episodes in season 6. In one, a man tries to sell his wife's ring to buy parts for his motorcycle. The wife punches him several times and Ashley finds the situation funny. In a later episode, a women is frustrated because her bracelet is not worth what she wants it to be worth and starts berating her man. He shoves her out of the way so he can leave and Ashley is immediately shocked.
In the 4th episode, Ted dates a girl who, it transpires, studies Krav Maga. He acts like a jerk towards her, but the public beating she doles out to him at the episode's end - during which no one in the crowded restaurant attempts to help or intervene - is hardly justified. To make matters worse, when he tells his friends, and his children, what happened, all any of them do is laugh because he 'got beat [sic] up by a girl'. Even worse, in the 21st episode of season 5 Ted reveals that the crowd in the restaurant cheered her on. Furthermore, for don't know, the premise behind Krav Maga is that, in a real fight, no quarter is given to the enemy. You fight to inflict maximum pain and damage in order to accomplish your goal and ensure your safety. Everything is permitted, including eye-gouching and Groin Attacks.
Lily repeatedly hits the boys whenever she thinks they did something stupid or insensitive, and it's always Played for Laughs. There was also an episode where Ted dated a coworker of Robin that she didn't like, so she PUNCHED HIM IN THE THROAT!
S3 Ep 14, "Light Sleeper" averts this. The initial suspect in the murder of a Korean woman is her Marine husband. Their neighbor claims she frequently heard them screaming at each other, leading her to believe that husband was abusive. However, the husband reveals to Gibbs that she was the abusive one and proves by lifting up his shirt to reveal a large burn mark where she hit him with an iron. The woman is later revealed to have been a North Korean sleeper agent.
Played straight in the Season 6 finale "Aliyah", when an emotionally distraught Ziva, upset that Tony shot her murderous, rogue Mossad boyfriend to death in easily justifiable self defense, pins Tony to the ground and points her loaded pistol at his chest. As often happens in fiction, despite the immense severity of this act, it is brushed aside with nary an afterward mention, and Ziva is treated as the one who was wronged.
Amy and Rory's relationship. While he's perfectly happy being the submissive one in the relationship, she's a Broken Bird with abandonment issues and so will take him for granted often and sometimes crosses the line to full-on abuse. According to "The God Complex", she's apparently hit him hard enough to knock him to the floor. At one point when he gives in to her on a point of contention after a bit of protest, she asks, "Are you just agreeing with me because you're afraid of me?" and he admits, "yes," and not jokingly, either. Imagine that exchange with the genders reversed; it would be hard to romanticize a relationship in which the woman was so thoroughly dominated by and afraid of the man.
The End of Time has a scene where the Doctor is groped by one of Wilf's female friends to accompanying "silly music".
Series 8 has two occasions ("Into The Dalek" & "Listen") where Clara smacks the Twelfth Doctor upside his head. It's treated as her just knocking some sense into him in both cases, played seriously in "Into the Dalek" and for laughs in "Listen". But those pale in comparison to a crack she makes in "Kill The Moon", where in the wake of his leaving a choice that would determine Earth's future in her and humanity's hands, rather than making a decision for them, she threatens to hit him so hard he'll have to regenerate. In other words, she just threatened to beat him to death. Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot and the Doctor told Clara that he would smack her so hard that he'd need to find another companion because she'd be indisposed during a rather lengthy stay in hospital. Hooray for our plucky heroine...?
Played for dark laughs on 30 Rock when it's revealed Frank had a sexual relationship with his attractive eighth-grade teacher:
Pete: Guys, a teacher preying on a student is wrong... if the teacher is male and the student is female. What happened to Frank is awesome.
Pete's horrifying relationship with his wife is played for laughs too:
Liz: Pete, you and Paula fight a lot, right?
Pete: [Nervous, holding his lip] No, I-I walked into a door. I'm so clumsy.
Something else involving a female teacher and male student is discussed in The George Lopez Show. After the neighborhood discovers a sex offender moved in down the street, they form a mob and go over to beat him up...only to discover that the offender is actually female, and she admits she had sex with her underage student and she's in therapy for it. Everyone except Angie just shrugs and decides to leave her alone because she's a girl and, as George thinks, the boy was lucky to have gotten to sleep with her. Later subverted when he thinks Max may have slept with her and realizes that regardless of the genders, abuse is abuse.
Averted in the Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior episode "Smother": the town tried to get the unsub's mother arrested because she was still breastfeeding her son at the age of seven, but without signs of further abuse, they weren't able to do anything. Later her son confesses he was abused, and the mother kidnaps another boy to continue the cycle. Everything is taken seriously.
Averted by Kamen Rider Double where Saeko's verbal and physical abuse of Kirihiko is shown to be as bad as it is, building her up to be more villainous and leading to a Redemption Equals Death arc for him.
Subverted on Degrassi as Jenna hitting KC with her guitar is treated seriously and the first sign that she's losing it dealing with the pressure of being a teen mom. Played straight by a large part of the fandom however with that moment being listed as a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
The It Crowd: Played for Laughs in the first episode, when Roy is badly beaten up by a female colleague as punishment for a prior argument over the phone. Jen seems to approve.
The UPN series The Parkers (starring Monique years before Precious and BET's The Monique Show). Despite Professor Oglevee constantly giving [Monique's character] Nicki Parker numerous signs that he's not interested in her, she still harasses and stalks him on a regular basis, and keeps telling everyone else (especially other women Professor Oglevee may be attracted to) that he's her man. At one point, it went to the extreme of Oglevee getting drugged to lower his inhibitions to sleep with Nicki. All Played for Laughs, but if any male on any sitcom behaved similarly for the five years that passed during The Parkers series run, he'd have been arrested around episode two (in fact, when one of Nicki's ex-boyfriends forcibly tried to marry her if she lost a poker match, he's portrayed as evil). The most infuriating thing though came from the series finale. Despite Nicki finally moving on and getting married to someone else, Professor Oglevee crashes her wedding to profess his secret love to her all along; convinced, of all people and of all places, by his reflection in a mirror, reminding him of all the good things he'll miss about Nicki (as opposed to the harassment 95% of the time). So ladies, if you got your eye on a man that you think is your soulmate, bug the crap out of him until he loves you back!
Played straight in the US version of Shameless. After Steve pulls a terribly stupid prank Fiona actually punches him in the face, knocking him down. Because the prank was stupid, it's treated as though he deserved the beating and at no point does she apologize (he in fact must apologize to her for the prank with the physical abuse a non-issue).
Malcolm in the Middle. While Lois isn't shown as being physically abusive to the boys (at least, most of the time), she certainly has a temper to her and is guilty of Financial Abuse too. Consider if the genders were reversed, then it'd probably be more of a Soap Opera than a Sitcom. It's also deconstructed since Francis, the eldest son, is shown to hate his mother for what she put him through. Lois also occasionally makes comments about changing or punishing Hal that would most likely be seen as spousal abuse if he was the one saying them. He's shown to be afraid of her when she's angry on at least one occasion.
Averted in Father Ted with John and Mary. They are both horribly abusive to one another, verbally and physically. Violence from either party towards the other is always played for laughs and Mary gives just as good as She gets.
The series managed to subvert it as uber bitch Tracy Barlow was constantly manipulating Steve to get money out of him for their daughter and sometimes just for the hell of it. One episode saw Steve get his own back where he insulted Tracy in the pub and compared her to his ex-wife. This pissed Tracy off and she punched him in the face. Steve immediately phoned the police and Tracy ended up spending the night in jail for assault.
Very strongly averted with Kirsty Soames's treatment of Tyrone Dobbs. She violently attacked and scarred him — hitting him, forcing him against walls, slamming his fingers in doors; cut him off from friends, destroyed his sentimental possessions such as photographs, and he stayed with her mostly because he was afraid she would take their daughter Ruby away if he reported her. None of this was played for laughs and Kirsty was portrayed as being a very dangerously violent and unhinged person to the viewer because of it, though most of the other characters had no idea.
Played with when it came to Dev and Tara. Tara found out Dev had cheated on her when they had broken up briefly and plotted to get revenge. She ended up plastering a nude photo of Dev on a billboard in the street with "Liar" written in an obvious place (in addition to rejecting his proposal in public). While Tara wasn't portrayed as being in the right (Dev's daughter Amber chewed her out for it), the whole thing had a slight comedic tone to it which wouldn't have been the case if Dev had put up a picture of Tara.
British puppet adult comedy series Mongrels has an episode (first of the second series) that is either a straight example or a parody. The episode's song on the matter ("Just A Little Tap On The Nose") says it's okay to abuse males but uses stereotypically male excuses for domestic abuse (playing it down, rationalising) to the point that it becomes rather squick. This is probably deliberate. Also, Destiny is a female dog and doesn't get a happy ending.
In the episode "Test the Store," Andy gets punched by a young girl, and when the office finds out, they ridicule him. The girl's mother forces her to apologize. But, Andy later gets punched by Kelly, and it's again Played for Laughs.
Zig-Zagged with the relationship between Michael and Jan. The women who work for Dunder-Mifflin advise him to break up with her, and eventually he does, although she manages to delay the action by getting breast implants. In the episode "Dinner Party", Jan's abusive behavior towards Michael makes Jim, Pam and the other houseguests increasingly uncomfortable, even leading to the neighbors calling the police. Zig-Zagged because while it's not presented in-universe as "okay" and is played for cringe comedy rather than straight, out-of-universe it's still hard to imagine a similar situation being Played for Laughs with the genders reversed.
In New Girl, Schmidt is the only male in his workplace and is often on the receiving end of psychological abuse from his female co-workers which includes dismissing his work, passing him over for promotions, harassing him constantly, insulting his appearance and degrading him and destroying his self-esteem at every opportunity. While the women are shown as being very much in the wrong and characters even point out how fucked up the situation is, it's still Played for Laughs in a manner that would be not at all funny if the genders were reversed.
Step by Step : Both played straight and averted in the episode in which Mark is being picked on by a bully named "Max," which turns out to be short for Maxine. Frank is disgusted that Mark is "letting" a girl push him around, and he can't believe that Carol isn't embarrassed by her son's behavior. The fact that the girl in question is twice Mark's size doesn't seem to matter to Frank. Fortunately for Mark, though, the rest of the family doesn't share Frank's sexist views. Despite her antagonistic relationship with her stepsiblings, Al sticks up for Mark, and threatens to beat Max up if she doesn't lay off him. Later, Mark stands up to Max, who immediately backs down. Unaware that Al had intimidated Max into backing off, Mark eagerly tells the family what he did. Frank and Carol figure out what Al did, but they and Al all let Mark believe he did it himself. The entire family, Frank included, are proud of both Mark (for standing up for himself) and Al (for sticking up for Mark).
In one episode Kira and Odo are reading over the criminal activity reports and when they get to a domestic assault, Kira asks why the husband stays with his wife when she beats him so often. Later that same night they were arrested for "Public Lewdness." Which brings up another trope to try and justify why he stays. Played far more lightly than it would be with an abused woman.
Discussed in the episode "Tribunal", where the Cardassian court asked O'Brien if the reason he committed his crime (the trial begins with the judge saying the judgement is guilty and the punishment is execution) was because O'Brien's wife abused him. They may be an evil empire, but at least they are an understanding evil empire.
Amazingly averted in The Twilight Zone in which mentally abusive wives are shown to be just as bad as abusive males. The most prominent is the wife in Time Enough At Last who won't even let her husband, a voracious reader, read around the house and is shown as clearly being in the wrong. Many wind up meeting a nasty fate at the end.
In one episode, Leonard was set up with one of Bernadette's friends for a blind double date. Said friend spent the whole evening demonstrating Krav Maga nut shots on Leonard. No actual physical abuse, but Leonard is the only one who seemed to have a problem with this.
Penny punching Howard square in the face after he tries to kiss her is Played for Laughs.
Averted on an episode of Jonathan Creek. At first, Lady Theresa puts stinging nettle into her Jerk Ass husband's sandwich. This is played for laughs. Later she hits him over the head with a trowel and he starts bleeding heavily. This is played seriously (as well as being a plot-point for the husband faking an injury in order to strength his insurance claim on a missing painting, telling the authorities that it was the work of an intruder. Later, a witness to their relationship states that Lady Theresa's behavior was completely unacceptable, especially as a lot of the abuse was done in front of her young son.
In the pilot episode of Saving Grace, Grace is has sex with a colleague, Ham, who is married, and who feels guilty about his infidelity. The next time she sees him, he has a black eye his wife gave him. When she asks him about it, he says it's "Nothing I didn't deserve." And this is presented as an appropriate response to domestic abuse. Imagine how this would play out if the sexes were reversed.
Viciously deconstructed in What Would You Do?. When the man is abusing the woman, people were quick to step in and stop him. When the woman abused the man, it took hours of filming and over 150 people passed by (including a police officer) before someone stepped in and called the cops. Several people when asked why they failed to intervene said they assumed that the man must have done something to deserve it, and freely admitted that had the positions been reversed they would have intervened. One woman was actually cheering on the abuser and saw her as a "role model."
The Investigation Discovery series, Deadly Women often subverts this, as many of the women featured in the series had either been psychopathic or sociopathic. The ones who pre-meditated the murders didn't get off as light, but it's not subverted when they actually get off relatively light. Sometimes, it's actually played straight and subverted at the same time.
Horribly done in an Indian game show, where the female host curses at a contestant and slaps him (not according to script), and when he slaps back, the entire set gangs up on him and beats him to the ground. It turns out that the point of this entire segment of the show is actually this trope. The woman was supposed to insult and verbally abuse the two male contestants, and they were supposed to take it without losing their temper, and when she was unable to get a rise out of them, the contest's managers told her to go out and get more aggressive with them. Imagine if the roles had been reversed: a man going out and screaming insults in a woman's face? Detestable. A woman doing it? Fine and dandy. Luckily, the contestant was able to successfully sue the show for assaulting him, as he was nearly hospitalized. What was worse is that the video itself became famous, as people apparently found it funny that the man "cried like a little baby." Because obviously, only "babies" find the idea of being beaten black and blue by 20 men to be unpleasant.
Averted on Longmire, when a woman comes to the door with a black eye and says her husband did it. The cops express concern, and she waves them off, saying she gave as good as she got. The cops are still uncomfortable. This is actually more accurate than many shows; domestic abuse is often mutual.
Played in Wizards of Waverly Place: Alex does this constantly to Justin, both physically and mentally. She's just joking around, but still.
Season nine of Grey's Anatomy. Jo receives a black eye from her boyfriend and it turns out he hit her in self-defense while she was attacking him. He ended up in the emergency room with severe brain trauma and was in critical condition for a while. He is portrayed as the bad guy (her violence is excused because he grabbed her by the arm and that awoke bad memories for her) and gets a lecture from Alex about how he can press charges against Jo but all anyone will hear and care about is that he hit a girl. Alex outright states that if a girl hits a guy he should just take it, even if she is nearly killing him.
Played for laughs in the Mexican sitcom El Chavo del ocho. Doña Florinda unfairly blames Don Ramón for everything that happens with her overprotected son Quico and slaps Don Ramón in his face at every episode. At some episodes she goes further and spanks him to the point of inflicting severe injuries. However Don Ramón never ever calls the police or charges her for aggression. Would the genders be inverted and it would be a mexican soap opera.
In season 1 of Teen Wolfevilwerewolf hunter Kate Argent first corners and tortures Derek Hale, also making suggestive comments. Then, later in the season, she captures and tortures Derek in a deliberately erotic way. Apparently, she had once seduced him when he was a teenager and continued to enjoy "playing" with him as an adult despite her belief that werewolves are not human. He is shirtless during both times. If their genders were reversed there is no way that these kinds of scenes would have been allowed on a show targeted at a teenage audience.
In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, Luka Millfy regularly shouts at and hits her teammate Don, even though they're shown to have a good relationship when the chips are down. Lampshaded in one episode where when they switch bodies, Luka (in Don's body) is oblivious to the looks she's getting from bystanders as she yells at Don (in her body) and forces him to carry her shopping.
Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger shows Souji's love interest (and apparent future wife) Rin hitting and yelling at him when he upsets her or doesn't realize her crush on him. He's shown to find girls "scary" and at one point is visibly alarmed at having a dream (induced by a Monster of the Week) of going on a date with her. Despite this, her actions are played for laughs and presented as somewhat justified since Souji doesn't acknowledge that he is supposed to fall for her.
One episode of Tokumei Sentai Go Busters involves a female thief becoming close to Hiromu (who doesn't seem so taken with her, yet is forced to work with her.) She leaves him with a letter saying she intends to pursue him until she can "steal" his heart. Other characters find this funny and tease him about it, even though she's basically announced her intention to stalk him.
Meta-example. Some fans who didn't ship Blair with Chuck on Gossip Girl claimed he abused her. This based on an incident where Chuck, drunk and having just found out that his father might have killed someone and that Blair is marrying another man, punches a wall out of frustration. The wall in question happened to be made of glass and Blair happened to be three feet away and got a tiny cut on her cheek. This apparently makes Chuck an abuser but Blair (who has pulled Chuck's hair, stomped on his foot and slapped him on several occasions) is not.
Desperate Housewives does this a number of times, noticeably with Susan. In one episode, she breaks into another man's car to spy on someone. When he notices this, she uses the automatic windows to crush his head, and make him apologize for all the women he wronged in his life. A police officer stops her, but Susan gets no punishment for her actions. Later, she attacks Paul, only to be stopped when Beth threatens to shoot her. When confronted about it, she brushes it off as if she did nothing, and again, receives no punishment for her actions.
Played straight on Bones where Booth and Brennan go to a bachelorette party to question the male stripper about a murder. Despite showing his badge and identifying himself as FBI, the women believe him to be another stripper and start forcibly undressing him, despite his repeated demands for them to stop, complete with them saying "You obviously want it considering your belt buckle" in regards to his Cocky belt buckle. All the while Brennan stands back with a small smirk at her partner getting assaulted, as if it's perfectly fine.
Discussed on an episode of Without a Trace. Both the Victim of the Week and the FBI learn a boy is being abused, and immediately assume it's the father. When one of the agents interrogates the mother, she refers to an old riddle* A man and his son are in a car accident and rushed to the hospital, and the surgeon is called in to operate on the son. But upon seeing the boy, the doctor says, "I can't operate on him, he's my son.". The answer is the surgeon is the boy's mother. and says it's like how people assume that only men abuse their children as a lead-in to accusing her of abusing her son.
Something similar happens in an episode of Private Practice: an obese teenager reveals that he overeats to protect himself from abuse. Cooper assumes it's the father but, as it turns out, it's actually the mother, and the father is horrified when he finds out.
In the "Good Samaritan" episode of The Blacklist, Keen chases after the Good Samaritan, a serial kidnapper who targets abusive spouses and parents and replicates the injuries that they inflict upon their loved ones. After saving the latest victim, a man who has abused his wife, Keen gives the man a warning that she'll be watching him from now on and if he ever abuses his wife again, she'll finish the Good Samaritan's work. Would that line have been added if Keen had been male, and the abuser had been female?
On The Thin Blue Line after Patricia discovers the Not What It Looks Like tape mentioned on the main page involving the Mayoress and Inspector Fowler , she goes for the rolling pin, and when he argues against her idea of having kids, she hits him with a fish.
Initially played straight in the third season of Wings when Helen returns after a lengthy period of trying to make it big in NYC, expecting to find Joe ready to resume their relationship. When she finds out that he's moved on and gotten another girlfriend however, she starts going on violently destructive rampages — including totally destroying Sandpiper's office twice — yet it's all played for laughs. Averted a couple of episodes later however, as the other characters hold an intervention when it becomes clear that her rage isn't subsiding, and tell her that her behavior is way out of line.
Ed Hurley in Twin Peaks worries about what's going to happen if his wife (who has Super Strength) finds out about his affair with another woman: "If Nadine found out about me and Norma, I'd be playing harp for the Heavenly All Stars!" The sheriff laughs and treats it as a joke.
It's generally forgotten given the wholenature of Season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but Buffy spent several months physically, sexually, and emotionally abusing Spike. No one calls her out on it, and fans tend to blame Spike for eventually snapping. If their genders had been reversed, the audience would have been screaming for Buffy's blood. In Season 7, Buffy herself notes that what she did was unforgivable and genuinely regrets her behavior, yet Xander and Dawn are more inclined to give her a pass and blame Spike.
Subverted in the Angel episode, Sanctuary. Buffy is hunting Faith and intending to kill her, however Angel is protecting her so Buffy punches him. After he ignores the first blow Buffy tries to punch him again, but Angel blocks and punches her back. Buffy is almost too shocked to speak, but when she later tries to throw the fact that he hit her in his face during a different argument, Angel calls her out on this trope, pointing out that she both threw the first punch, and is stronger than he is.
"Not to go all schoolyard on you, but you hit me first. In case you've forgotten - you're a little bit stronger than I am."
Averted in the British dark comedy The Wrong Mans. When Scarlett attacks her husband she accidentally kills him. It is most certainly not played for laughs.
Sometimes played for laughs on consumer rights show The Checkout, such as one sketch where a woman hits her husband very hard after finding out he wasted all their money on lint rollers.
Averted quite seriously Cold Case. After an encounter with a barely coherent, Alzheimer-stricken women calling for her late husband husband at the cemetery where he's buried Lilly reopens his unsolved thirteen year old murder. Though the man's now-adult son seems to be the prime suspect, he eventually reveals their family secret: His mother was a violent drunk who would attack his father, to the extent that he locked himself in his own bedroom out of fear of her. When she finds out he's been seeing someone else, she attacks and kills him with a fireplace poker. Then, in a final humiliation, she forced her then-teenage son to help her dump his body in an alley known as an area for prostitution, leaving him surrounded by drag paraphernalia.
This story is particularly ironic when you consider that Chris Lassing, Lilly's short-lived partner at the time was played by Justin Chambers, who later appeared on Grey's Anatomy as Alex, who had a VERY different take on female-on-male abuse (see above).
A 2011 episode of daytime talk show The Talk included a discussion about a California man who was castrated by his wife (who he was filing a divorce from), who then threw his severed penis into the garbage disposal to mangle it further. Co-host Sharon Osbourne was quite giddy about the situation, and a large part of the mostly female audience fed off that. Most of the rest of the female co-hosts joined in as well, but eventually former child actress Sarah Gilbert lampshaded the double standard by arguing it was sexist to laugh at his fate when mutilating a woman would not be greeted with such mirth. Sharon refused to yield, continuing to laugh about it.
The show Agent Carter is so boastful about how much more enlightened and feminist it is compared to its own setting that it's literally set the standard that saying the wrong thing to Peggy Carter or to any woman she cares about in her presence means you should both expect and deserve to be assaulted even if you're not actually supposed to be a villain. Take, for example, how she would often respond to sexist comments by her colleaguesunderestimating her talents because she's a woman by punching the guys for saying them. Or her reaction to a customer who spent three weeks in a Nazi POW camp making jerkass remarks towards her waitress friend Angie and slapping Angie's ass as she turns to leave: instead of punching, which might've been appropriate in this case, Peggy places a fork right up against a vital artery in his side and threatens to pierce it and leave him bleeding to death in minutes unless he tips her friend generously and never returns to the diner again. The friend is seen smiling about this and it's treated as a badass heroic moment, not as a borderline assault worthy of any sort of reprimand.
In Becker, at one point a woman with a history of serious violence is reported to be targeting Reggie by Bob (at the partial encouragement of Bob). It later transpires that the woman has no ill-will towards Reggie, and was simply talking herself up in order to impress Bob into a relationship - he has no interest in her. Reggie instructs the woman to effectively bully Bob into a relationship. Later on, we see her seemingly physically forcing Bob into a date, in which he is clearly unwilling and crying, all Played for Laughs. While Bob is hardly an innocent victim, if the genders were reversed it would be downright horrifying.