What ran across your mind when you watched Angel L. Rosenthal get allegedly assaulted in “The Seattle Police Officer Punches Girl” video, or Kat Stacks allegedly getting assaulted in the “Kat Stacks Gets Beat Up” video?
Was your first inclination to decipher whether they were worthy of the assault, or were you appalled by the image of men violently assaulting these women? Violent videos of this type not only create a spectacle, they force viewers to become the judge and the jury; determining their personal sentiment on the amount of guilt of the assault victim.
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A common reaction to both videos is viewers stating why they believe Stacks or Rosenthal deserved to be assaulted. Stacks’ poor character and history of confrontation with many rappers, causes viewers to see the attack as a justified act, while Rosenthals’ character can only be judged based on the few minutes of confrontation seen on the footage, so she is commonly regarded as a victim. Rosenthal is seen arguing with the police officer and resisting arrest, do these action constitute being assaulted by a male officer? Do we see Rosenthal as deserving because she is loud, resistant, and aggressive?
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Viewers on first encounter watch the videos out of curiousity, then watch it over and over to assess guilt. I am no conspiracy theorist, nor a Black feminist, but I am aware of the possible outcomes of the reactions of these viral videos. But I do believe there is a message hidden deep within this issue; one that warns Black women of their actions and character. It is a message of caution for women who confront a man, argue with a man, or even undermine a man. If we as viewers decide whether a woman deserves to be beat up by a man based on her persona, can you imagine the affect this may have in the court system and society itself? While online viewers will not determine if these women are victims or the assailant, viewers possibly are signifying their views on the guidelines of conduct of a Black women.