Nigella Challenges Our Stereotypes
Once again Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi have been in the news due to Lawson’s cocaine use allegations. As I was reading about Nigella one previous headline said: ‘Calm down! Saatchi's no monster and Nigella's no battered wife’ (Carol Sarler, Daily Mail Online, 25 June 2013). I feel like I am trawling through bins reading some of these posts, yet these columns often echo common perceptions about domestic violence. The media-reporting on the innocence of Saatchi, namely that he is ‘no monster for getting physical’, seems a familiar line from many newspapers.
Nigella’s case highlights our stereotypes of who a ‘domestic violence victim’ is; often they are dubbed as ‘those women’ (often poor, uneducated, lower class women from other countries). Nigella - hailed as the ‘domestic goddess’ - has money, is highly educated, is a successful chef, author and celebrity. Can she even be a victim with all those credentials? Surely not. Surely we have misunderstood Saatchi’s intentions. Can a victim also have power? Yes. Can she be educated? Have money? Of course. Nigella doesn’t fit into our stereotype of a victim; unlike the 9,577 women and 10,117 children who were supported through refuge accommodation in 2013 (Women’s Aid, 2013), she is unlikely to need a refuge due to her resources, but this does not mean that she is not experiencing domestic violence. In Nigella’s recent case where she was questioned about her use of cocaine, she described her experience with Saatchi as being ‘subjected to intimate terrorism’.
Secondly, Ms Sarler appears to reaffirm stereotypical thinking on ‘who is a ‘real’ victim?’ i.e. she must have suffered physical violence which is ‘real’ domestic violence (just as rape by strangers is ‘real’ rape). In June, Nigella Lawson was photographed having her throat gripped by Saatchi, yet still at one point it was framed as a ‘tiff’ in the media and not an example of physical violence. Media reporting and our own stereotypes often look for proof in the form of broken bones, blood and actual bruises. But this is only a part of domestic violence. Domestic violence is about coercive control and this is often the invisible mechanism that is harder to name, for women experiencing it and for society.
We will not calm down…!
Domestic violence isn’t something to ‘calm down’ over - we all have a part to play in challenging stereotypes so that women, ‘domestic goddess’ or not, can leave abusive relationships behind. Be part of the change - see here for more resources on domestic abuse.
#Nigella Lawson #Stereotypes #Domestic Violence #Intimate Terrorism