Should women like #AdamCatzavelos' wife be held responsible for their partner's racist or offensive comments and behaviour?
This week the man called Adam The Racist, and now identified by social media as Adam Catzavelos, went viral on social media after shooting a holiday video of himself walking around on a beach abroad while he spoke to the camera. The video caught the attention of Twitter for its racist content:
News24 has reported that the holiday-goer has subsequently been fired from the family business. Many online called for business partners working closely with the family's business to distance themselves, and cut all business ties.
However, Twitter users also called for people to distance themselves from sportswear brand, Nike as Adam's wife Kelly allegedly works for them.
The Times reported that Nike has issued a statement distancing itself from Adam The Racist.
Why judge or implicate his wife in this? She was not in the video. Is she guilty purely by association?
Why we shouldn't hold partners responsible for their spouse's mistakes
After countless accusations of sexual misconduct and his recent conviction of aggravated indecent assault on three counts, Bill Cosby's wife, Camille has stuck by him, relentlessly defending him to the bone. This, needless to say, has angered people greatly.
While on the flip side, Harvey Weinstein's wife, Georgina Capman left him almost immediately after rumours spread and accusations and allegations surfaced, implicating him in over 80 cases of sexual assault and misconduct.
So, much like with Henry van Breda and his girlfriend, people are perplexed when a spouse or partner stands by an accused. A distancing is often taken to mean that the spouse disagrees with the conduct of their partner, which then says "you are the good one". That partner is free to go, as they have openly accepted the evidence against their partners and have in a manner affirmed that their partner is no longer associated with them.
Would people still be calling for boycotting Nike if Adam's wife publicly distanced herself from him?
Speaking generally, local clinical psychologist, Samuel Waumsley says, "I think when someone is in the public eye as a partner of someone charged with criminal or accused of problematic behaviour we as the public find it difficult to imagine someone can remain with this person, supportive of them. In some cases as with the recent Hollywood scandal with Harvey Weinstein's sexual abuse allegations, these partners do leave their partners if they find this person's guilt too clear."
But dissociating yourself from something derogatory your partner has done or said, without leaving them, is also possible. And not just dissociating by keeping quiet, but actually going actively against them, even in a very public way.
Is that a betrayal, or simply a partner living their own truth?
As two individuals, we naturally have different opinions when it comes to a variety of topics. And space should be allowed for this, not just within couples but also in society's viewpoint of how couples should and shouldn't conduct themselves.
Samuel adds, "I think we may look to the partner perhaps if someone is socially unacceptable or racist with a feeling of why are you allowing this maybe, though it's important to remember partners don't always have an influence on their significant others. Other people may feel sympathy for a partner in such an awkward or embarrassing situation I think."That said I think it's extremely important partners voice their objection, disgust and feelings about problematic or racist views their partners may have or may express socially, ignoring it allows it and can magnify the problem with something that is ultimately illegal in terms of hate-speech. If you don't feel empowered or safe to tackle your partner on important issues and you get shut down it could be this is not someone who you are benefitting from being with."
A recent case of racist allegations involving Arrested Development actor and comedian David Cross and his wife Amber Tamblyn, where she publicly said she sides with her husband's accuser is a great example of women who go against their partners. CNN reported that comedian Charlyne Yi has accused Cross of directing several racist and derogatory comments her direction over the last 10 years.
He later apologised to her on Twitter saying he never intentionally meant to cause her any harm. However, his wife Amber took this a step further and actually spoke to Charlyne in person.
When Twitter came for her, because some believed her silence to be mean she stands with her husband, she said:
I will say this for the last time. Do not hold women accountable for the actions, decisions or words of their partners. Don’t. Do it.— Amber Tamblyn (@ambertamblyn) October 20, 2017
Even if Kelly was a racist herself, she is not guilty of the crime her husband has committed.
We wonder how many marriages and relationships would be left standing if woke women left their racist or bigoted partners?
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