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Double Standard Abuse Female On Male / Live-Action Films

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  • The plot of My Super Ex-Girlfriend revolves around a man who's super-powered ex, whom he's dumped for being emotionally unstable, proceeds to make his life a living hell with vicious acts ranging from throwing his car onto the moon, get him fired by using her powers to strip him naked in the office, and throwing a shark at him. What stops it from being DSA:FOM: The Movie is that the guy is still presented as a victim, and the ex does eventually receive backlash from the city she defends when they discover that he isn't a criminal, but just some schmo who broke her heart. She's later Brought Down to Normal in a plot to stop her tirade, eventually going toe-to-to with the guy's (much less unhinged) new girlfriend, who uses her new found powers to beat some sense into the ex when she still won't leave him alone. However, My Super Ex-Boyfriend couldn't possibly work as a comedy (in fact, such a scenario was played scarily straight in Megamind), meaning this is still played straight.
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  • Played With in The Hangover: Stu Price's girlfriend Melissa is both emotionally and physically abusive to him, and has cheated on him at least once. It's Played for Laughs, at least dark ones, and Stu spends a lot of the movie trying to justify the physical stuff ("That was only twice!"), going as far as to blame himself, but after his wild weekend with his friends, who constantly remind him that she's no good for him, he wises up and breaks up with her at the wedding.
  • Played straight in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist when the titular characters are arguing and Norah gets so upset that she hits Nick in the throat. The double standard is particularly striking, considering that Michael Cera (Nick) has the build of a twelve year old girl, making Kat Dennings (Nora) looks like an Olympic powerlifter compared to him. There's also the fact that Nick was getting over a break-up with Tris, who emotionally abuses him.
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  • Jerry Maguire is hit and punched out by his girlfriend when he breaks up with her. The scene is played for comedy and is never mentioned as abuse, even when the wound her ring left on his face is highlighted later in the film.
  • Subverted in Kingpin where the main characters, a man and woman, get into a fist fight. While it's played for laughs when the woman does a few groin attacks it's viewed as equally hilarious when the man responds by using her breasts like punching bags.
  • In Kung Fu Hustle, the domineering landlady constantly beats on her lecherous doormat of a husband with comedic, slapstick violence. Along with anyone else who pisses her off. It later turns out that his kung-fu ability is to absorb and redirect force, but nonetheless.
  • Korean Rom Com My Sassy Girl is 2 straight hours of this trope as an excuse for slapstick.
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  • Tokyo Zombie includes a scene in which a meek abused man buries his mother in a giant mountain of trash and corpses at his girlfriend's instance (specifically, when threatened with sex deprivation). Not content with that the girl proceeds to kick her head into orbit while still belittling her boyfriend.
  • The War of the Roses is built around playing an Escalating War of domestic abuse for dark comedy. The wife is always played as far more brutal and vicious than the husband in an apparent effort to keep the two even.
  • In the original The Parent Trap, in a fit of anger at one point Maggie socks her ex-husband Mitch in the eye. His dialogue seems to imply she'd done stuff like that back when they were married: "Why do you have to get so physical? Can't even talk to you about anything, you're always trying to belt me with something." The movie tries to make the whole situation seem cutesy by the awkward and girly way in which she throws the punch, but for the modern viewer it casts an ominous tone over their eventual reconciliation.note 
  • Played straight in Birthday Girl. Sophia participates in the beating, robbery, torture, and kidnapping of her husband John. She gets angry at her co-conspirators later and decides to free John, but never so much as apologizes for her actions - and the fool nonetheless sticks with her and they live (happily?) ever after together. There are even disturbing intimations that John deserves to be victimized because he is a fan of bondage porn, although he never even hints at acting out his fantasies on Sophia, and he is mortally embarrassed when he realizes that she knows about his tastes, even though she implies that she regards them as harmless.
  • Played straight in Troll 2: Holly and Elliot's relationship would probably have been handled differently if the roles had been reversed.
  • More or less played straight in Baby Boy. Yvette (Taraji Henson's character), in a fit of rage, starts swinging her hands toward her boyfriend Jody (Tyrese's character). While one could certainly understand why Yvette's upset, what with Jody's constant cheating and lying, that does not excuse her violently whaling at him to the point of punching him in the eye really hard. So when Jody fought back after failing to restrain Yvette, he smacks her in self-defense, which anyone has the right to do. The movie unfairly paints Jody's actions as a Kick the Dog/Moral Event Horizon moment.
  • Discussed in In Bruges (overlapping with Would Not Hit a Girl). Ray mentions the phenomenon, and notes that he himself would not attack a woman in self-defense if she attacked him first, unless she was armed. This later becomes relevant to the plot.
  • In Chicago, try telling me that audiences would find the song "Cell Block Tango" nearly as hysterical if it featured a bunch of male inmates describing how they'd killed their wives and girlfriends.
  • In Get Smart Agent 99 is absolutely brutal to poor Max who is treated as the Butt-Monkey in Played for Laughs fashion. 99 slaps him, punches him and even sticks a loaded gun into his pants, at one point she claims she should’ve “slapped him harder” when he just was innocently being eccentric while they at restaurant together at which Max fairly and humorously calls out how mean and unnecessarily violent she’s being to him. As the movie goes on 99 stops being cruel to Max and falls in love with him.
  • Mary Poppins: In the Supercalifragilisticexpalidocious sequence, one large cartoon woman in plays a percussion instrument by slamming it on her diminutive husband's head.
    Husband: For example...
    Mary Poppins: Yes?
    Husband: Once I said it to me girl, and now me girl's me wife.
    Wife slams instrument on Husband's head.
    Husband: And a lovely thing she is, too.
  • Played straight to the point of being disturbing in the romantic comedy Serious Moonlight where Meg Ryan's character knocks her cheating husband unconscious by a potted plant at his head twice and tapes him to a chair until he loves her again. Switch the genders and it becomes a lot less funny.
  • Throughout the film Norbit, Rasputia abuses Norbit both physically and emotionally. Although we're supposed to feel sorry for him, most of the abuse is Played for Laughs. But if the genders were reversed, then it would be a different story...
  • A scene in Skip Woods's debut film, Thursday involves the main protagonist being tied to a chair by a woman working for the film's antagonist; the woman then proceeds to rape and taunt him by saying she won't kill him until he achieves an orgasm, which he tries desperately hard to avoid, and adds that she hopes he'll get her pregnant. While the character finds the situation revolting, the scene is played for titulation.
  • In Think Like a Man, it's repeatedly implied that Cedric's wife is physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive to him—there are references to him having a black eye that he tries to play off as a sports injury—and that the very reason he's leaving her is because he's fed up with it. But the entire scenario is played for laughs throughout the film, with his friends constantly teasing him about it, and at the end, he goes back to her.
  • The 2014 comedy The Other Woman features three women tormenting a cheating man (psychologically and physically). Like many other comedies of this ilk, audiences are expected to root for the female characters despite their near-sociopathic behavior. However, it's not likely that audiences would accept a film where three men get revenge on a cheating woman by ganging up on her...even if her relationship crimes were just as heinous.
  • The Gamers: Natural One: Two masked men grab Ryan in an alley, throw a hood over his head, toss him into the trunk of their car, and drive off with him. He is later seen tied up at a gaming table because, as it turns out, this is all part of a trial to see if he can game, and thereby prove himself worthy to marry Monica. Ryan angrily calls Monica out for what she did, and she apologizes. When Ryan says he will expect "reparations" from her, Monica meekly agrees - and she smiles when he specifies that the reparations will be of a "kinky" nature. Although the film does not attempt to justify Monica's actions, the fact remains that a man who participated in his girlfriend's kidnapping would never have gotten off so lightly. More than likely, the audience would expect her to dump him immediately, or have serious trust issues with him. At the very least, it would take a lot more than an apology and some make-up sex to get him off the hook.
  • Try to imagine the scene in Captain America: The First Avenger where Peggy Carter punches a man to ground with genders reversed. Same thing applies to the scene where she shoots at Captain America without even giving him a chance to explain that he didn't initiate the kiss with the Sexy Secretary. (For the record: Peggy gets even worse during the first few episodes of her own TV series.) For someone who complains about sexism against her, she gets off scot-free after having fired a live weapon in an enclosed environment.
  • Near the beginning of Intermission, Sam leaves his wife Noeleen for a younger woman. Near the end of the film, she confronts him outside the bank where he works and violently assaults him. In The Stinger, they're back together, and she openly assaults him in order to keep him in line. All of this is Played for Laughs.
  • In Hot Tub Time Machine, Jenny stabbing Adam in the eye for breaking up with her is treated fairly trivially. Despite knowing what she did Adam and his friends still think he shouldn't have broken up with her and when Adam does get angry at her it’s for her hypocrisy for getting mad at him when she was going to break up with him anyway not for being violent in the first place. Not once does anyone comment that stabbing someone in the eye is a despicable, abusive act.
  • Played Straight to the point of parody in Dinner for Schmucks. Darla is a psychotic Yandere who stalks Tim, forces herself on him and destroys both his apartment and car, with the latter happening in public. At no point does she ever get punished for her atrocious behavior.
  • In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), Gaby slaps Illya twice after convincing him to dance with her and then escalates the situation by tackling him to the ground when he protests. There is no reason or justification for her behavior whatsoever, and the scene is Played for Laughs.
  • Inverted in Suffragette, violence against women is considered perfectly acceptable by the police who beats the protagonist up for participating in a peaceful demonstration, and the husbands of the suffragists, who likewise see nothing wrong in beating their wives. Other men treat this as a laughing matter. When the protagonist finally strikes back against her abusive boss, this is treated as a very serious thing by the police, and she only gets out of a prison sentence because they want to use her as spy inside the suffrage movement.
  • Good lord. The Melissa McCarthy comedy The Boss not only devotes an entire scene to McCarthy's character beating the hell out of a man (complete with a shot to crotch, of course) but it uses this "hilarious" scene to sell the movie in all the advertisements.
  • Black-comedy film Rough Night revolves around a bachelorette party accidentally killing their male stripper. The trailer then shows said stripper's corpse being treated in an undignified manner, all the while in his underwear with novelty glasses on. All of these moments are intended to be seen as hilarious. There's even a scene where a man shrugs it off as just "an accident". The fact that the trailer was released on International Women's Day was also viewed with criticism.
  • In Girls Trip, Dina gives Stewart an Armor-Piercing Slap because Stewart cheated on his wife, Ryan. While it's Played for Laughs due to how sleazy Stewart is and to sympathize with Ryan, nobody will laugh at a man for attacking a woman just because the woman cheated on her husband.
  • Blockers almost averts this, with a scene where Hunter confesses that, while he had cheated on his ex-wife, it was after she had cheated on him and beat him up in a restaurant. It was clearly humiliating for him, but then it's revealed the other characters in the scene weren't really paying attention and Hunter has to say Not Listening to Me, Are You?.
  • In Phantom Thread, make no mistake, Reynolds Woodcock is an asshole with serious Control Freak issues. This does not make it right when Alma deliberately feeds him poison mushrooms so he will be too weak to keep her from doing things as she wants. The film ends with her deliberately poisoning him again, and him allowing this to happen, playing it as a form of sadomasochistic romance. Not one critic has ever complained about this; in fact, many feminists have denounced the film as "supporting toxic masculinity", or as glorifying male-on-female abusive relationships, because Alma never leaves Reynolds, completely ignoring the poisoning thing. Try and imagine what the reception would be to a film where a man poisoning a woman to keep her weak, vulnerable and forced to accede to his desires is treated as romantic.
  • Overboard provides a meta example: The original 1987 film features a man abducting an amnesiac Rich Bitch who owes him money and tricks her into becoming his wife, causing her to eventually fall in love with him. You'd expect that a premise like this would never fly in 2018, but the film was actually remade, only with the genders flipped to make the protagonist's actions more forgivable.
  • In the 1995 film Something to Talk About, the character Emma Rae (Kyra Sedgwick) knees her philandering brother-in-law Eddie (Dennis Quaid) in the groin. The scene is played entirely for laughs and Sedgwick was nominated for a Golden Globe.
  • Batman Begins: The clearly distraught and depressed (male) Bruce Wayne reveals to his (female) friend Rachel Dawes that he'd been planning to shoot the man that murdered his parents. Rachel's response is to slap him. Hard. Twice. Now imagine a male character inflicting physical violence on a grieving female character in such a way.
  • Viciously deconstructed in the Short Film One in Five where the girlfriend's abuse is a combination of physical (stabbing him with a fork, throwing bleach in his eyes and hitting him with a shoe) and emotional (making him feel guilty for seeing his friends, implying that he's disrespecting her by using pet names). The double standard is highlighted in the end credits, which says it was Based on a True Story but the end has some artistic licence; the man is shown answering the door to a postman and asking for help - but in reality it took nine months to do so.

Alternative Title(s): Film


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