Abuse your boyfriend app: It promotes outdated stereotypes and the idea that violence is acceptable

Men are supposed to be able to handle being beaten up by a girl – after all, she’s just a girl, right?

Share
Related Topics

At the risk of being controversial, I’m going to state a fact that is basically not up for debate.

Hitting your partner is not okay. In fact, hitting anyone is not particularly okay, but partner violence is absolutely, one hundred percent, not okay. It’s also not something most people find funny.

The sexist ‘Boyfriend Trainer’ app hasn’t yet provoked the reaction from Apple that other content has, like naked photos, because at the time of writing, the app has yet to be blocked or removed. Perhaps naked bodies are offensive but domestic violence isn’t? Perhaps it’s because it’s a joke: domestic violence isn’t funny, unless you make a joke out of it, and then it’s funny?  

Or perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that it shows women beating up men. That’s not a coincidence; it’s the whole “joke.” Men are supposed to be able to handle being beaten up by a girl – after all, she’s just a girl, right? “You hit like a girl,” “you throw like a girl,” and “you run like a girl” are constantly reheated as insults; it’s not surprising if some people absorb the message that if a woman hits a man it’s not a serious thing.  

Even critical coverage of the app – for instance, this piece in the Daily Telegraph – claims there is “no actual violence,” which seems a strange thing to say when the app encourages the user to “whack him” and “slap him silly.” Whacking and slapping is violence. Yes, even if you’re just a girl, and you’re doing it to a big tough man. It’s still violence.

It’s not just the trivialisation of partner violence which seems wrong; the things the user is encouraged to beat the digital boyfriend up for are crude, immature stereotypes of what men do, and of what women want them to do.

It’s not surprising that the app seems to be garnering pretty bad reviews so far; most women are not scolding nags who want to spray mace on a man if he dances with someone else, and most women do not want to hit men for leaving their clothes on the floor. (Certainly not this woman; hanging and folding is a kind of optional extra in my house.)

Despite the outrage from Men’s Rights Activists this silly app is just as sexist in its assumptions about women as it is about men. The whole premise of the joke is based around the idea that women are controlling bitches, obsessed with fidelity, housework, and control, while men are messy, lazy, and surreptitiously trying to eye up women all around you unless you keep them on a leash, like a pet. In spite of this, it’s become an excuse for misogynistic rants about feminism amongst Men’s Rights Activists; as if the same people who find this app funny are the same people who campaign against the trivialisation of violence against women.

One comment on Paul Elam’s A Voice for Men forum complains: “They would scream bloody murder if the roles were reversed in this game. But beatin up guys is 'just good fun' to them, I guess.” Another one, clearly an ardent critic of sexism, writes: “Women and their PMS, great excuse for some women to go mental.”

It might not matter much but “activists” like these don’t just campaign for men’s issues to be taken more seriously; they’ve actively campaigned against things like the re-authorisation of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in America. Elam responded to the growing feminist movement in India by complaining that India is a society in which “only women are regarded as human”; something he blames of “the effects of feminism and misandry”. He describes it as a country where “immoral women gone drunk and stupid with power, counting on the fact that the men still regard them as untouchable.” No wonder he thinks feminism has gone too far in the UK and America.  

But the irony is that sexism is a cycle, and sexism against both genders feeds off itself. Sexism against men is facilitated by sexism against women; sexism against women is justified by sexism against men. So-called “jokes” like this app serve to remind us that it’s in no-one’s interests to keep perpetuating myths and stereotypes that come along with a patriarchal culture. Feminism is not a question of men versus women; it’s a question of whether you are okay with sexism or not.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

 

Ed Miliband's conference speech must show Labour has a head as well as a heart

Patrick Diamond
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam