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Dennis Waterman’s Comments on Attacking Ex-wife Rula Lenska Have Provoked a Storm of Controversy

Posted on the 21 March 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Dennis Waterman’s comments on attacking ex-wife Rula Lenska have provoked a storm of controversy

Dennis Waterman

British actor Dennis Waterman has provoked a storm of criticism after admitting he twice physically attacked ex-wife Rula Lenska – but insisted she wasn’t a beaten wife. The Minder star made the comments in an interview with Piers Morgan: “She certainly wasn’t a beaten wife, she was hit and that’s different,” said Waterman, despite also revealing that the Coronation Street actress was left with a black eye, reported The Telegraph. The couple divorced in 1998, with Lenska claiming her ex-husband had physically abused her – something he denied.

Waterman went on to apparently blame Lenska’s intelligence for the attacks: “The problem with strong, intelligent women is that they can argue, well. And if there is a time where you can’t get a word in … and I … I lashed out. I couldn’t end the argument.”

Domestic violence charities and media commentators have slammed the actor for trivialising his actions. But at least one writer has suggested there may be a deeper truth in Waterman’s words – step forward, The Daily Mail.

Clever women who want to be hit? “There can never be any reasoned excuse for brute force,” wrote Carol Sarler in The Daily Mail. However, what if Waterman was telling the truth when he insisted he had never hit a woman before or after Lenska? “A psychiatrist I once interviewed had done extensive research in women’s refuges that showed in most cases where a man ‘lashes out’, regardless of age, class, wealth or background, the one thing the women have in common is an IQ at least ten points higher than their partners’. Which means they can win verbal arguments with ease,” wrote Sarler. So why do these verbal arguments descend into violence? Sarler provided the answer: the psychiatrist also said that some of these women don’t actually want to win arguments with their less intelligent partners: “However much goading it takes, they’d rather be slapped than be victorious. When push — quite literally — comes to shove, these women prefer to have a dominant man to whom they might defer as an authority figure,” said Sarler. And there are other categories of slap-happy women, Sarler claimed, such as those prepared to endure a slapping in order to win the moral high ground.

Don’t blame the victim. “At home or in the wider world, women are entitled to be safe, and there is never any excuse for assaulting a partner,” wrote Joan Smith in The Independent. Smith was horrified that Waterman appeared to be saying Lenska had provoked him to violence through her intelligence: “The fact that he thinks intelligence is a ‘problem’ in women suggests that Waterman’s thinking about gender hasn’t evolved much since she divorced him in 1998.” Smith argued that Waterman’s provocation argument is “based on the myth that men can’t control their tempers, even if most adults of both sexes seem to do it perfectly well”.

All about Waterman’s inadequacies. “Most men do not respond to clever women, or any women, with anger, hatred or violence but for some such as Waterman, their inadequacies manifest themselves in this way. He was keeping her in her place. He couldn’t win intellectually so he would win physically,” wrote Naomi McAuliffe on The Guardian’s Comment is Free. McAuliffe pointed out that it isn’t remotely acceptable to settle a verbal argument with violence in the workplace or the pub – so why should there be any excuse for doing so in the home against an intimate partner, whatever the genders involved?

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