Why We Don’t Care About Charlie Sheen’s History of Violence Towards Women

Isn’t Charlie Sheen hilarious? Talking about tiger blood, goddesses, being a winner. Gosh, he just never stops giving us amazing quotes. Mental illness coupled with drug addiction has been given a comedic makeover thanks to him. Yay.

I’ve written before about Charlie Sheen exemplifying a harsh double standard in Hollywood. I’ve also talked about how disgusting it was that Two & A Half Men was only shut down after Sheen made anti-semitic remarks about the show’s creator, Chuck Lorre. Production wasn’t halted after his escapades at The Plaza or his domestic abuse towards ex-wife Brooke Mueller. It only occurred when he upset the show’s creator. Got the message, Hollywood. Anti-semitism = bad. Violence towards women = meh.

Anna Holmes—creator of Jezebel and all around feminist badass—has contributed an op-ed to the New York Times in which she examines the media’s blind eye towards domestic violence. She writes, “Observers still seem more entertained than outraged, tuning in to see him appear on every talk show on the planet and coming up with creative Internet memes based on his most colorful statements. And while his self-abuses are endlessly discussed, his abuse of women is barely broached.”

Holmes has touched on something very important here. Charlie Sheen is a well-known drug addict with a lesser-known penchant for beating up women. For example, did you know that he shot fiancee Kelly Preston in the arm in 1992? Because I didn’t. Having such a disturbing incident be glossed over in the narrative of Sheen’s career is, quite frankly, disturbia. In the past weeks, his antics have transformed him into a celebrated pop culture icon—someone to laugh at rather than scorn. One can only imagine what the case would be if the gender were reversed.

A large factor contributing to the media’s blasé attitude about  Sheen’s proclivity for violence is the kind of woman he abuses. They are typically porn stars and hookers—the dregs of society who are looked down upon with contempt. Holmes writes:

A woman’s active embrace of the fame monster or participation in the sex industry, we seem to say, means that she compromises her right not to be assaulted, let alone humiliated, insulted or degraded; it’s part of the deal. The promise of a modern Cinderella ending — attention, fame, the love and savings account of a rich man — is always the assumed goal. Objectification and abuse, it follows, is not only an accepted occupational hazard for certain women, but something that men like Mr. Sheen have earned the right to indulge in.

In other words, these girls are not Rihanna. They’re, as Holmes puts it, the disposable woman. Their mistreatment does not come as a surprise and garners little sympathy. Maybe if Sheen beat up a hot young actress, the media would start to condemn him for his actions. But it’s disturbing to think of the lengths Sheen would have to go to for people to start giving a shit about his abuse towards women. When the hoopla around Sheen inevitably dies down, I hope people stop getting distracted by the things he says, and start paying attention to the awful things he has done to women.

Edit: Charlie Sheen has just been officially fired. Sweet. Wish this would’ve happened eight abused porn stars ago though.  TC mark

image – mr.destructcity

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


More From Thought Catalog

  • Dan

    Nice article. I'd also recommend this one, for a similar view http://www.abc.net.au/unleashe

  • Clogitron

    meh, there's so much more you could focus that self righteous rage on.

    • http://twitter.com/stefamafone Mos Stef

      Really? Being pissed about domestic violence being ignored is “self-righteous rage”? I'll just let the 1 in 3 American women who will be victims of domestic violence within their lifetimes know that anyone being upset over that, or how their abusers are treated, is just overreacting.

      • PopVulture

        The fact that we are sitting here talking about incredibly public “domestic abuse” directly contradicts your belief that it has somehow been “ignored”.

        Actually, the audacity with which you compare the silent hell abused women go through every day around the world with these fame whoring gold-digging d-listers is appalling and offensive.

        Sure, use the opportunity to bring some attention to the struggles of women, but don't for a second delude yourself into believing that some half-cocked would-be starlet looking for a payday or a headline in any way equates to the physical, mental, and emotional torture other women have to suffer with much, much less waiting for them on the other side.

      • http://twitter.com/stefamafone Mos Stef

        All women are human beings and deserve to be treated as such. This isn't some kind of suffering contest. Stop victim-blaming.

      • Sarahkan

        Well but what about these women who exploit and take advantages of these “claim of abuse” and finally make the women seriously traumatised by the abuse look bad ?!
        For me as a woman it is a real question like whythese women who can do job, hobbies who could provide them some self-esteem continue to go for porn-star prostitution business where they know society will in one way or another blame them or at least will be keen to not defend them..hummm ?

    • Mjonah

      Yeah, you don't think women are worth the “self-righteous” rage, right, clogitron? I think your brain is clogged.

  • Chantal

    We have seen the situation in reverse: I would argue the Charlie Sheen equivalents are the Britney Spears' and Lindsey Lohans. When their alcohol/drug abuse becomes tabloid fodder, we condemn them, berate them for their irresponsibility, and urge them to get help. We vigorously shake our heads at their antics and poor behavior. Society as a whole shakes its finger in disgust and disapproval. Charlie Sheen, on the other head, has become every young man's idol. My twitter feed is flooded with commentary on the “realness” of his rhetoric, how he's “the man”. Many even praise him for living the lifestyle of his choosing. A double standard indeed.

    • PopVulture

      Ah, but you forget that Iron Man himself was once in Lindsay Lohan's shoes, along with Mickey Rourke and even Marlon Brando. The difference is that CS has “leaned into the punch”, so to speak, and the joke is on the media here. Where even the most respected news programs have stooped to salacious, attention-grabbing stories thinly veiled in “concern” (condescension, really) about the troubled starlets we all helped make, Charlie has turned around and (seemingly) said “oh, you want CRAZY? I can do crazy…”

      It is that BA, I-couldn't-care-less attitude that I personally admire, his personal choices notwithstanding. There have been mentally diseased drug addicts before and there will surely be more to come, but none have had the fortitude to hold up the mirror to the salacious throngs and ask if this is, indeed, what they came for.

      Don't make this about abuse of women, particularly the starlets and, yes, the hookers and porn stars- for all the “abuses”, I've never heard of a single kidnapping, bounced check or refused payment on our unlikely hero's behalf.

  • http://sarahspy.tumblr.com sarahspy

    glad to see this addressed here, props to ms holmes too.

  • http://twitter.com/srslydrew Andrew Farr

    First of all, totally agree. Charlie Sheen is a scumbag.

    But: “One can only imagine what the case would be if the gender were reversed.” Imagine if this whole situation was reversed and played by, say, Pamela Anderson. Gwyneth Paltrow? Ann Heche? We'd all love to hear about their harum of… demigods? Whatever the equivalent is. In fact, I maybe think the fact Charlie Sheen is a dude makes his behavior a hell of a lot more disgusting.

    But anyway, domestic abuse is disgusting. It's 2011, people.

    • Mike

      you know the male equivalent of a goddess is a god, right?

      • http://twitter.com/srslydrew Andrew Farr

        I do, it just wasn't sounding right when I read it.

      • shoehorn


  • http://www.myspace.com/unihole Towelie

    Why don't you just stop talking about it? As the man said, let it be unless you want more attention yourself.



      it's called having an opinion, doucher. that's why this site exists. duh.

      • http://www.myspace.com/unihole Towelie

        Unless you live in Southern California and can back up calling anyone a “doucher,” I suggest you shut the fuck up.

      • earlobe

        i actually do live in southern california so yeah (:

    • NoahTourjee

      HAHAHA are you serious? I mean, you're right – Ryan has stepped over the line here. He really should have talked to Sheen himself. Besides, why does he even have an opinion about it anyway? And why would he write about it on a blog about culture anyway???

      • http://www.myspace.com/unihole Towelie

        Please tell me you are old enough to get into a bar.

    • DerekD

      Calling a celebrity jerk on his sexism isn't “vicarious living” or “second-hand drama.” It's called real journalism.

      Refreshing to see it sprout here on TC. Keep it up, Mr. O.

      • http://www.myspace.com/unihole Towelie

        Right. I'm sure your mom in the next room cooks a mean meatloaf while you watch TMZ.

  • http://twitter.com/childlikerobots Jonathan Stromberg

    “They are typically porn stars and hookers—the dredges of society…” The expression you're looking for is “dregs of society.” There are no dredges of society.

    • NoahTourjee

      This is so true and incredibly important.

  • Parker 'Poopy' Jones

    He didn't shoot Preston in the arm. She shot herself in the arm with his gun. I'm not defending Charlie Sheen and I agree with your overall point. But you make yourself look like a douchebag when you get your facts wrong.

    • Smith

      It seems that you are defending Sheen since you are promoting a false statement. Guess what? Telling lies to defend Charlie Sheen *really* makes you look like a douchebag. Next you are going to tell us all about how his ex, Mueller, actually physically assaulted herself.


      • Justine

        No actually Parker said the truth.
        Yeah Preston left Sheen after that but mainly because she was shocked by the incident.
        And now she defends Charlie and still like him.
        p.s: by the way i am a woman but i also like to tell/state the real facts.

    • Jessie

      No, he shot her in the arm. Supposedly by accident. But more telling was that she broke up with him shortly after.

  • Barney

    I think you mean fiancee.

  • Omni

    Really? This is your contribution to society? Yikes, I'm sure your mother is proud. Here's a thought..people can laugh at a person's antics without deifying everything they've done! Crazy, isn't it? Oh, but let's drum up some moral outrage in order to get a few hits to our site and thus make some advertising dollars off of the whole fiasco. Gotta get yours, eh pal? Winning! LOL. Fucktard.


      at least ryan is completely capable of being able to stand up for something when you in fact can only stand up long enough to further shove your own dick up your ass and be the actual fucktard here.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Khaligula Khalil Pineda

        all he's saying is that the notion of it being meh to beat up women in contemporary society is largely fictitious


        except it's clearly not largely fictitious because people get away with it ALL THE TIME. so thanks for playing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Khaligula Khalil Pineda

        Someone has obviously not been comparing the treatment of domestic violence in the US to that of most of the world. Yes, here, people pay a steep price for beating a girl up. GeT oVa iT.


        except i'm not gonna take shit from anyone who jokingly puts on their facebook that they are “the mack at pimping hoes”. so you can try and put me in my place about not being ok with people not caring about domestic violence, but you won't win because it's not just in america that i am concerned about and BITCH PLEASE not everyone has or will pay a steep price for beating a girl up. so keep trying, honey, you're not going to make me get over it. ever.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Khaligula Khalil Pineda

        No one here is ok with domestic violence, that was the initial point you unleashed your menstrual rage on and haven't stopped since. It's not just America you're concerned about? Charlie Sheen is an American phenomenon… smh. This is about America, laws in the Congo don't apply to Charlie Sheen and people in the Congo don't care about Charlie Sheen either. If you have a global agenda against domestic violence, this isn't the place for it. Not everyone HAS or WILL pay a steep price for beating a girl up, some people get away with it. Except a price is determined relatively and within the frame of a culture, and women beaters pay a higher price here than they do anywhere else in the world, except some European nations. You don't need to get over it, but it would help you look less of a moron if you didn't go balls out with false information.


        i have presented you with no information so you in fact are false. suck on your cock. i don't give a fuck about anything you have to say.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Khaligula Khalil Pineda

        darling, you should stop being bitter and angry at the world out of whatever experiences you've had since clearly for you this is more personal than anything else, I feel for you and recommend you to stop being such a hostile and bitter wench whenever you find something that doesn't soothe you. You might lead a happy life. Cheers, I value your opinion and wish you the best, dear. xoxo

      • garth

        dude, khalil, you just completely destroyed slutmunky at being complacent in the moral mainstream. like, she can't even approach the level of comfort and confidence you have agreeing with things that are widely considered to be right. this has been inspiring.

      • slofiz

        You've got a pretty mouth, Khalil. Dear, darling, wench, bitter, menstrating little thing. xoxo on my dick, yeah?

        You seem to be sad that despite all your backhanded slaps to imaginary hoes, women are still seeing you for the fool that you are. Doesn't help that all the masculine traits you think are so awesome, like power, money, confidence, etc you obviously lack. If only you could buy yourself a woman. Boo hoo.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Khaligula Khalil Pineda

        Sad? I think that I've remained fairly apathetic in this topic while my “opponents” have been overly emotional and passionate. If you somehow perceive that this has any influence on my mood other than providing light entertainment, I beg you to, please, refer again to your psychology textbook and attempt a better psychoanalysis. My lack of personal involvement and neutrality is such that I even avoided more orthophemistic terms for the person above like “bitch” in favour of “wench”, now that you inquire about my language.

        Backhanded slaps to imaginary hoes? I don't fantasize about violence to women, I don't condone it, nor practice it. “The Mack”, if that's what's getting all your panties in a bunch, is a blaxploitation film that I particularly like. Am I misogynist? Probably, still a pretty far fetched assumption on your part.

        Women are bought regularly. The entire base of monogamous romantic relationships between humans is the prostitution of women. Sociology, for you. That's just the way things are.

        I appreciate your two cents on my personality and will assure you that if me posting what I am posting here “obviously” signifies a lack of power, money, and confidence, then I will gladly continue lacking said traits.

        xoxo, again.

      • Mmeng84

        But misogyny does promote violence against women. And it's obviously not far fetched, cause you used the words wench, panties in a bunch, brought up PMS, etc, that's pretty classic language and tactics of a misogynist. This is not an appropriate way to approach a debate.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Khaligula Khalil Pineda

        Misogyny as presented here (wench, panties in a bunch, pms) just assumes that women behave or are a certain way. Classic image would be weak, fickle, emotional. Why would I advocate violence towards such beings? It's like saying people should beat puppy dogs.

  • iamxenu

    charlie sheen is a scientologist, bet ya didnt know that.

    • You're real cool

      I bet you're a christain…

  • http://twitter.com/Weedleplop David Woods

    Okay, I am clearly naive here, but I don't know a SINGLE person who thinks highly of Sheen for his protestations and ravings. Amusing, yes, but thinking he's 'the man'? No-one. Who are these idiots? where do they post?

    • http://twitter.com/dianasof dee

      Oh, they're definitely out there. I know at least 3 people that have quoted him, and not in a “look at this idiot” way, more in a “this guy is awesome” way. He's even having a twitter contest to find a new intern, and a bunch of people on my feed keep saying they're applying. I honestly don't understand how those people can just gloss over the disturbing aspect of Charlie Sheen's behaviour.

      • Prez

        I got sucked into an intense YouTube debate/slagging match with a cretin who thinks Charlie is “winning” and everyone criticising him is a “loser” or “troll”. And there were many other posters of the “he's awesome” variety. I don't understand people either.

  • Nbo

    great article Ryan, I'm so glad to read it. I thought I was the only one who thought this about Charlie and didnt just make my facebook status some “badass” quote from his latest inane interviews. I wish I was an actual gay man (not just an honorary one with a vagina) because I think I love you!

  • 27sandgranola

    If Charlie Sheen were a woman he'd be Courtney Love, and we all know how she's been portrayed in the media.
    I would rather watch Love's Korner.

  • amro

    man i thought this was one of those cool self-aware hipster blogs. feminism ended in the 20th century, when simone de beauvoir died.

  • NoahTourjee

    You go Ry. I honestly have been so engrossed in his mesmerizing interviews with poetic psycho babble I didn't really think about something that matters. Love ya love it. I…do follow him on Twitter though. We made the Guiness Book of World Records.

  • http://kilakilakila.blogspot.com brittany wallace

    i liked this, ryan. i agree. good job.

  • Ana

    this article is so wrong
    what's going on thought catalog?
    focus on pretty things, stop ranting!

  • Jo

    I've never read this blog many of the comments on this post are so disturbing I can't imagine what your target audience is. Calling this post self-righteous? Accusing you of trying to live vicariously through him? ? What the heck is wrong with these people.

  • Kirk

    What about violence again men? Who will speak for Lorenzo Lamas?

  • Guest

    There are so many things people should care about, but don't. I honestly don't think Charlie Sheen's abuse towards women should be at the top of the list. This is only adding to the Charlie Sheen hype. Why not speak about something that truly matters, like the revolutions in the Middle East, or poverty in 3rd world countries, or judaism?

    • SisterRay

      …Judaism? What?

  • Tom Matlack

    So coming at this Charlie Sheen thing from the perspective of a recovering addict, it upsets me greatly that we as a culture have adopted this guy as our national obsession. It’s a sad story, but one not unlike any number of drunks and cokeheads before him. I have worked with many men who are trying to get and stay sober. The stuff Charlie has done is nothing out of the ordinary. He’s a garden-variety addict with a big-ass wallet, to make matters a lot worse.

    All addicts lie. They will sell their mother for a hit. They will do enormously stupid things to cover their lies. And in regard to sex, personal property, and willingness to engage in criminal behavior, whatever morality they might have when sober goes out the window when intoxicated.

    What upsets me so much about waking up to watch Charlie rant and rave? The man is in desperate need of help, and we as a country are getting off on watching him flounder. I have a sneaking suspicion that it has to do with how Charlie fits into the long line of male celebrities and politicians gone bad (Tiger, Spitzer, Edwards … do I need to go on?).

    I recently covered this topic on Good Men Project Magazine, wich you can read here:


    • Mmeng84

      I liked your article, it was really thoughtful. And yeah, it is disturbing to see how people enjoy watching someone ruin their life.

    • Grapeface

      I have many close friends who are recovering addicts and it really isn't typical addict behavior to shoot your girlfriend and abuse woman. Yes, most addicts lie and many may steal, but it's a simply not true to say they all would sell their mother for a hit. In some extream cases yes, but not the majority. That kind of compromise in your values comes from a deeper disturbance and I'm sorry but why should I care if he gets help? He needs to go to jail and then he needs to get help. I could care less about Charlie Sheen. I do find it interesting that his abuses are so easily dismissed and I think it shows that we still have a long way to go. People really need to imagine if it were their sisters or mothers being abused. Would it really not be that big of a deal. “Oh, it was just the drugs”. I don't think so.

  • Justthefacts

    What do you tell a woman with two blacks eyes?
    Nothing you already told her twice!
    Women cry to be equal and want to do everything guys do, blah…blah…blah.
    Be equal and shut up.
    Take it like a man.

    • Grapeface

      Pathetic. How old are you, 15? It's really not something to joke about. Would you say that to your mother? If a man talked like that to your mother what would you say?

  • Grapeface

    I have many close friends who are recovering addicts and it really isn't typical addict behavior to shoot your girlfriend and abuse woman. Yes, most addicts lie and many may steal, but it's a simply not true to say they all would sell their mother for a hit. In some extream cases yes, but not the majority. That kind of compromise in your values comes from a deeper disturbance and I'm sorry but why should I care if he gets help? He needs to go to jail and then he needs to get help. I could care less about Charlie Sheen. I do find it interesting that his abuses are so easily dismissed and I think it shows that we still have a long way to go. People really need to imagine if it were their sisters or mothers being abused. Would it really not be that big of a deal. “Oh, it was just the drugs”. I don't think so.

blog comments powered by Disqus