It seems illogical, right, that a website titled “Hit the Bitch” would be claim to be anti-violent? Or that this website would invite the viewer to use a mouse-powered (and male-looking) hand to repeatedly smack and slap a young woman, and then try at the end to give “useful” information about intimate-partner violence? Well, if this sounds unbelievable (it did to me), you’d better go to www.hitthebitch.dk and see for yourself. It’s pretty sickening.
The website was set up by a Danish anti-violence advocacy group, and ostensibly has a good message: making clear to men that domestic violence is unacceptable. But the method that it uses is so offensive, misguided, and disgusting that the message gets completely lost within sexualized violence and abuse. In the game, you (the viewer) play a disembodied (white male) hand. The viewer guides the hand to the face of a young woman who is speaking (in Danish) throughout the interaction, and tries to smack the young woman as hard as she or he can. With each hit, there is a loud (and extremely realistic) slapping noise, and the young woman reels back. With each smack, the meter at the top of the screen slowly creeps from “100% pussy” to “100% gangsta.” After about 10 hits, the woman finally falls to the ground, and the viewer is greeted with a “100% idiot” banner, statistics, and some loud scolding (in Danish).
We’re late on this – it was appearing all over the feminist blogosphere yesterday – so I’m just going to list a few of the most obvious problems with this game and then turn it over to you. It was almost impossible for me to finish the game because the idea of even virtually beating someone was really difficult for me, but I can’t imagine that if I could stomach the idea of virtually smacking a woman around, a mild rebuke at the end (or being called “100% idiot”) would help drive the message home that this is actually wrong, it’s not fun, and it’s not a game.
Writers at Jezebel point out how sexualized the violence is; Jill at Feministe writes, “color me unconvinced” that spending 10 minutes virtually hitting a woman and then being called an idiot will convey the message that hitting a woman is bad; Vanessa at Feministing says, “this is straight up glorifying violence against women.”
I lived in Denmark for a while when I was younger, but don’t speak Danish any more – I caught a few words, but I wish I could tell what the young woman was saying as the viewer beats her up. Is she rebuking him/her? Inciting him/her? I think that’s an important part of the equation. What do her words suggest about when domestic violence is seen by abusers as “acceptable”?
What do you think? Could this deter anyone from inflicting domestic violence? Or by rewarding the viewer for beating up a woman, is it actually reinforcing the notion that intimate-partner violence is fun?
Photo from www.hitthebitch.dk.