A Detroit food truck owner has removed a section of his menu that described mozzarella sticks as “battered, like your wife” after first defending the domestic violence joke.
Joe Sciamanna owns Dāgo Joe's, a catering company that also serves Italian dishes from a food truck in and around Detroit. WXYZ reporter Ronnie Dahl on Tuesday asked Sciammana about the flippant reference to women who are abused by their partners after she received a tip from a would-be customer.
“No, we’re not joking about battered women, we’re just joking about the battered mozzarella sticks,” Sciamanna told Dahl.
Dāgo Joe’s food truck menu lists mozzarella cheese sticks for $4.49, with a description that until Tuesday read: “Not just breaded, they’re battered, like your wife. With your choice of sauce or ranch dressing.”
We’re "just playing around, most people get it,” Sciamanna added. “We would never condone something like that.”
After WXYZ's report, Sciamanna told the Macomb Daily he physically cut the phrase "like your wife" from the menu that adorns the side of the food truck. The reference was removed from his online menu later Tuesday night.
"If it’s not good for business, I will take it off," Sciamanna told the paper.
WXYZ’s Facebook post sharing the story racked up a slew of comments. Some said they thought the menu joke was funny; some said it’s Sciamanna’s style to to be a little provocative -- “dago,” after all, is usually considered a derogatory term for someone who is Italian. Others said anyone offended is too sensitive. The majority of commenters came to Sciamanna’s defense.
But Arlene Weisz, a professor at Detroit’s Wayne State University who researches domestic violence and sexual assault, expressed concern that women who have been victims of violence, and then see a flippant reference to battery, may receive the message that their abuse is a matter to joke about.
“It’s like being re-victimized,” Weisz told The Huffington Post. “A lot of abused women say the psychological abuse ... is actually worse than being hit, in some ways. It sinks into your self-image more, and I think a so-called joke like that is a form of psychological abuse.”
Trivializing domestic violence may also make victims believe they won’t be taken seriously by outsiders, possibly discouraging them from seeking help, Weisz said.
More than 26,000 individuals in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, reported domestic violence incidents last year, according to state crime statistics. Weisz said there is only one domestic abuse shelter for women in the city.
“The lack of services for abused women in Detroit is shocking,” Weisz said. “I’m speechless. What is possibly funny about domestic violence?”
Sciamanna did not immediately respond to a request for comment.