Are those among us who indulge VH1’s melodrama “Love And Hip Hop Atlanta” (L&HHA) doing nothing more than helping to exploit domestic abuse and misogyny in the Black community for personal entertainment thrills and financial corporate gain?
Sil Lai Abrams certainly thinks so and she penned as much in her most recent column for theGrio titled “VH1’s Reality Programming Isn’t Just Harmless Entertainment.”
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A domestic abuse survivor and a public advocate against it, Abrams brings both a personal and professional perspective to the discussion of whether the hit show is mere entertainment or something more devastating. For example, she believes that, because of the show’s pervasive popularity in pop culture and, particularly, the Black community, L&HHA “is playing a part in the way our girls and young women are conceptualizing their femininity, sexuality and how they handle relationships.”
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Though neither Stevie J nor Lil Scrappy is shown physically abusing the women competing for their love and affection, Abrams also contents that the men exercise other types of abuse on the women that are no less painful.
Domestic violence isn’t just verbal or physical assault. Stevie J is a perfect example of how a man doesn’t have to put a finger on a woman in order to abuse her. Chronic infidelity is a form of abuse, as is bullying, name calling, put downs, intimidation and repeated threats of abandonment. Love & Hip Hop, Basketball Wives and its reality sistren consistently portray female cast members as belligerent, sexually manipulative, emotionally unstable and physically violent.
In such abusive situations, it is common practice to blame the victim, with her “character flaws” used as justification for her dehumanizing treatment. Reality TV viewers play this out, delighting in trashing L&HHA’s Joseline and Mimi for being involved with Stevie, buying into the show’s unspoken message: abuse is the penance that black women must pay for actual or perceived personal inadequacies — or even just to be in a relationship.
But Abrams doesn’t stop there.
She cites a study that reports that young women who watch reality TV shows like L&HHA are prone to take on the stereotypical behavior that depict them as sexual objects. And, while noting that her professional background does not include clinical psychology, Abrams offers the possibility that Mimi and Joseline’s behavior on the show, which many would consider “ratchet,” is symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Some may find that last part a bit difficult to chew on, but feel free to read the article in its entirety here and take our poll below.