Are We Still Left in Stitches?

 A few weeks back, Piers Morgan had the opportunity to make inquiries with Charlie Sheen regarding his experience with hitting women.  He asked, point blank “have you ever hit a woman?” to which he replied that he had not hit a woman, and that he believed that women should be “hugged and caressed.”  Violence against women is a topic that tends to stop conversations, so it was certainly predictable that Morgan quickly moved on from the issue of violent behavior as soon as Sheen denied hitting. Morgan went on to question Sheen about other current issues of interest such as Sheen’s recent erratic behavior, drug use and blow-outs with his co-stars and staff on Two and a Half Men, the sit-com he just was ousted from.  

We all know intimate partner violence is no joke, and it is thus more disturbing to see the amusement of the general public instead of indignation regarding Charlie Sheen’s violent history.  Just over twenty years ago, Sheen shot his then-girlfriend, in the arm and it was proclaimed an accident.  Six years later, Sheen was placed on probation for attacking his girlfriend at the time, Brittany Ashland.  The year before, Sheen settled a case out of court with a woman who reported threats that he would strike her if she denied sex.  The last five years has shown the same pattern.  In 2006 Sheen’s then-wife, Denise Richards, filed a restraining order reporting that he had threatened to kill her.  A few years later, his new (and now ex) wife Brook Mueller called 911 reporting Sheen had held a knife to her throat; he plead guilty, was placed on probation and, sickeningly enough, his ratings sky-rocked following this much-publicized incident. In the fall of 2010, an adult film star reportedly shut herself in a hotel restroom while Sheen reportedly went berserk on a violent tear. The film star actually filed a report, but no arrest followed.  Most recently, just a few weeks ago, Sheen threatened to decapitate his ex-wife, Brooke Mueller, and mail her head to her mother. Should we be surprised that the past 20 years of Sheen’s blatant violence against women has not scathed his career?  His twitter feed has reached Guinness World Records proportions, with over one million followers in the short period of a few days following the opening of his account. 

Reality television has taken the United States by storm. It exposes behaviors such as violence as entertainment, insidiously showing violence against women as acceptable conduct.  Such eagerly documented disgraces are situated as requirements in the provision of some ultimate accolade or better gain. This could take the form of a contract, or a large sum of money, professional connections or a relationship realized. We cannot forget that they further foster an acceptability of battering and degrading of women seem like humdrum, tolerable behavior endured by women and promoted in male counterparts.

There’s badly behaved and then there’s beating women and pushing them around, verbally intimidating them, and threatening to kill them on an ongoing basis over the last twenty-some-odd years. It really doesn’t matter much that Sheen has had on-again off-again involvement with assorted substances. It also is immaterial if the women in question are academics, sex workers, adult film stars, or eye-catching actresses. It is irrelevant whether they were also under the influence of substances or not.  What does matter is, while Carrie Prejean can lose a pageant crown after a semi-nude photo shoot, a Grey’s Anatomy star can get canned moments after homophobic comments, Charlie Sheen can evidently make a job out of abusing women and continues to thrive as one of the highest-paid performers on television despite his violent acts against numerous women.  I would encourage people like Piers Morgan, and any other interviewers who have the opportunity, to delve more deeply into these issues and not perpetuate the acceptability of violence against women in any context. Ever.   


Joanna B.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact

  • gwmchstudents

    A very vivd account of what is perceived in our society as entertainment. Not only has Sheen manipulated mass media they seem to forget that this man has children with the women that he has constantly abused. Great account of what people are not paying attention to.

    -Sapna Khatri

  • gwmchstudents

    Not only has Charlie Sheens’ public violence against women not hindered his career, it has arguably enhanced it. A 60 minutes episode with Charlie Sheen referred to him time again as a “bad boy” and a “rebel.” Desirable traits in our society to say the least. Violence against women has become accepted as something that does and will continue to happen, and thus a funny, rich, perpetrator of such violence is simply complying by the norm of “bad boy” behavior. His stereotypical celebrity icon actions do not phase anyone because drinking, getting stoned, and appparently abusing your girl friend are not a far enough straying from the norm to phase the general public. 


    -Shelby Hickman

  • gwmchstudents

    Joanna-this is a great piece on a sad reality.  It is unbelievable that Sheen’s career will continue to sky-rocket despite his behavior and violent actions towards women.  What’s worse is the fact that everyone seems to excuse his actions and encourage his behavior (as seen through the fact that he will now be touring the U.S. and performing at already sold-out shows).


    ~Diona Emmanuel

  • gwmchstudents

    Most of us have probably heard that Chris Brown went into a fit of rage after a recent Good Morning America interview in which host Robin Roberts asked him to comment on his physical assualt of Rihanna. A broken window in the GMA studio clearly shows that Chris Brown has not learned to control his anger and may be capable of harming a woman again in the future. 

    Joanna encourages “interviewers who have the opportunity, to delve more deeply into these issues and not perpetuate the acceptability of violence against women in any context.” I totally agree. My question is, why are interviewers willing to delve into these issues with an African-American man but not a White man? Chris Brown himself asked this question on his Twitter account. Now, I’m not quick to take Chris Brown’s side on any issue, but I ask: Is it easier to label an African-American man a perpetrator of domestic abuse than it is to label someone like Charlie Sheen? It appears to me that there is a double-standard. All perpetrators of violence should be held accountable for their actions: neither Chris Brown nor Charlie Sheen should expect us to simply forgive and forget.


    Felisa Gonzales