The reason for this is really simple. Duck, cause here comes the deep doo-doo. It is commonly understood that a man does not hit a woman in the Western Afrikan diasporan community. On the other hand, a man can hit another man. Men tacitly understand that there is an invisible line drawn in the sand and that it shouldn't be crossed. It is more often than not crossed by words--some body says something that slights or disrespects the other. It's on--the heat, the fight, the beat is on! Men know this so they are careful what they say to another man in anger. The question becomes, "Should a woman be able to cross that line and say what she wants in anger?" The answer is an emphatic not. She shouldn't even come near it.
Here's the dilemma: Men primarily fight with their fists; women fight mostly with their mouths. If a man and woman argue they are actually fighting. But this a the type of fight women have mastered, therefore, the man is at a disadvantage. He cannot use his fist and is therefore forced to use his mouth. This a fight he cannot win. And what happens is, the more a man and woman argue, the more he is losing, and the more likely he will fight with what he fight best with--his weapon of choice--his fist. His best bet was not to argue with his woman at all--this started the fight. But if he has a woman that likes to argue and keeps coming at him--they've got a problem. I surmise Bill and Denise had that problem--they argued a lot.
Denise is a woman that has always had activism in her blood, a fighter. She actively participated in the Civil Rights Movement. If Bill had hit her, she wasn't having it, she'd divorced him. Which she did, and which has an implicit guilt associated with it. But Bill's next wife didn't seem to be a pushover. She was a confident self-assured college graduate with a degree in business, and she helped Bill to manage his publishing company. From the documentary, she doesn't seem to be the type of woman that would put up with nonsense either. In the end, she and Bill had an entirely different chemistry; while Bill and Denise were a mismatch, Bill and Marcia, at least publicly, didn't have the same issues or "incidences."
I don't believe that a man should beat a woman, and for all that matter, even hit her. But I do know that people lose their cool and will fight. And a man will hit a woman based on his level of self-esteem, self-confidence, and whether he feels his woman has disrespected him, cheated on him, or any other real or imagined slight.
The reason why I am writing this blog is because I get read some comments on the documentary and was surprise to see the number of people that were discrediting it and him for the spousal abuse incident of 40 years ago. This signal a lack of maturity on the part of many folks in our community. The problem is when people don't allow others to grow and develop and respect them for that. I never heard Bill or Denise talk about the spousal abuse incident. I assumed it happened but I never heard of Bill before or after Denise being involved in abusing women. This would imply that either his present wife took the abuse; or he grew as a person; or the original incident is not well understood (in other words, what really happened? Did Denise provoke it or even strike him first? (And those of you that don't believe a woman can say things to provoke a man or strike the first blow, better wake up. And I am not saying any of this to justify a man hitting a woman. ( I never have and never expect to.))
But what I am really saying is Bill should be given the benefit of the doubt. If he was an abuser, the documentary showed us a changed man; a very warmhearted, sensitive, honest, and forthright person. If this not the person that he was 40 years ago, but the person he has developed into, then he should be respected for that. That rather than us argue about an incident that happened or allegedly happened 40 years ago, and discredit the documentary for this omission, let's appreciate what we saw and felt. Perhaps Bill (and Denise) didn't want to open wounds of the past and felt to leave well enough alone. I suggest we do the same.
Author of Distorted Truths