Let’s begin, shall we? Here are the THREE scenarios where it might be acceptable for a man to punch a woman:
2) Under no circumstance
3) Anytime, with the exception of every time
Oh, also never.
I don’t mean to insult your intelligence. “Never hit a woman” is an age-old axiom, and one to which most men (hopefully) subscribe. Don’t blame me for my writing this post. It’s not my fault.
Here in Baltimore, the town has been buzzing about the story of Ravens running back Ray Rice, and his “altercation” with his fiancée last week. He was arrested for assaulting her at a casino in Atlantic City; it should be noted that his fiancée was also arrested for assaulting him. We still don’t know all of the facts of the case, and the only “evidence” released to the public is a grainy video of Rice dragging a woman out of an elevator. Today, police confirmed that Rice did, in fact, knock his fiancé unconscious.
I don’t want to get too hung up on the specifics here, because the real story, to me, is the public reaction. It’s true that we don’t know all of the particulars, and Rice hasn’t been found guilty. But it does seem rather apparent that he did strike his fiancé. The police say he knocked her out, and video footage appears to lend credence to that claim.
Now the question around the city, and around the country, is this: could there be a scenario where Ray Rice — professional football player, built like a boulder, absorbs high speed collisions with 300 pound defensive linemen for a living — would be justified in punching his woman?
And the answer that I’ve read online and heard on talk radio quite a bit over the last few days:
Whether Rice is guilty or not becomes the lesser issue. The real problem is that so many people assume he is and are still willing to make rationalizations for him.
I was curious to get a better feel for society’s changing views on man-on-woman violence, so I took to Google. I found this on Debate.org. Question: is it ever acceptable for a man to hit a woman? Fifty percent say “yes.”
The arguments on the affirmative side seem to make all of the same sorts of points that the Rice defenders are making:
-Sometimes women hit men first.
-Sometimes a man needs to defend himself.
-Women want equality, so they shouldn’t get special treatment.
-It’s sexist to say that a man should never hit a woman.
I remember insisting on a few of these points back when I was five years old and my dad first warned me that I must never hit a girl, even if she hits me first.
Really, there are only three reasons why someone would try to use these arguments to defend woman-beaters: 1) They are under the delusion that men and women are inherently identical, and there is therefore no reason why our gender differences should ever be accounted for or acknowledged. 2) They know that men and women are inherently different, yet they justify violence against women in order to exact some kind of karmic vengeance against feminists. 3) They are children.
Of all three options, the folks in category 2 are the most cowardly and despicable.
Obviously, women have been known to start fights with men. Women can be abusive and violent. Women can deliberately attempt to provoke men. I am not defending these kinds of people, or their behavior. These women — those who attack men, or verbally assault them, or intentionally try to coax them into becoming violent — are lowlifes. They are morally reprehensible and they will answer for their sins one day. But it’s not up to you to “teach them a lesson.” No matter how offended a man might be by the actions of a woman, he is not magically granted an exemption from the rule.
“But what if she’s trying to kill you? What if she has a gun? What if she’s an steroid-infused female body builder and she’s trying to crush your skull like a raw egg?”
Clearly, if your very life is truly in jeopardy, you are not called to prostrate yourself before her and die in the name of chivalry. But I can’t conceive of a situation where you would need to punch a woman in order to save your own life. The Ray Rice case only highlights the absurdity of the assertion that a man might be required to beat his wife or his girlfriend in the name of “self defense.” Did Rice really fear for his safety? Does anyone believe that?
In most scenarios, the solution is simple. If a woman hits you — walk away. Call the police if you must. If she has you backed into a corner and you need to restrain her, then do so. The goal is to leave the situation or diffuse it. Retaliation is not acceptable.
Besides, you could throw a thousand hypotheticals at me, all of which distract from the large preponderance of cases of man-on-woman violence. In most situations, men hit women not because they believe it to be necessary for self preservation, but because they believe she deserves it. They do it because they are angry. They do it because they want to release their aggression.
They do it because they are bullies. They do it not because they are tough or “macho,” but because they are emasculated wimps looking for an easy target.
Real men don’t hit women. That’s not because all women are saints; it’s because all women are women. Men, in general, possess physical powers that give us the ability to dominate the other gender. If we lived by the laws of the jungle, women would be oppressed and enslaved. They are the weaker sex, and there’s no amount of PC hand wringing that will ever change that fact.
Men must choose to harness and control their physical superiority. We have to use it, when necessary, in defense of women. If we allow ourselves to use our strength to assault women instead of protecting them, we have debased ourselves and defied one of the central human characteristics which separates us from animals. Among beasts, the stronger tramples over the weaker. If the weaker makes an affront against the stronger, the stronger will annihilate the weaker. So, sure, if you wish to be more like a dog, then ignoring civilized society’s prohibition on man-on-woman violence is a good place to start.
Now you’re halfway there. You’ll be crawling on all fours and growling at the mailman in no time. Congratulations.
It’s true that “never hit a woman” is a longstanding cultural convention. But only a fool tears down a convention simply because it’s conventional. And what those fools fail to understand is that all of these “silly” and “old fashioned” rules and codes governing male-female interactions were never based on any notion of one side being “better” than the other. It’s not that women can’t be hit because women are blameless goddesses, or because men are more mature and evolved so they are held to a higher standard. The real reason — or one important reason among several — is that we are all better off if we remain the sort of society that expects men to be the sort of men who would never strike women.
That’s the problem — or one serious problem among several — with this New Age, hazy, greyish world where humans are treated like machines, and the differences between genders are seen as purely mechanical: it doesn’t make us better. It doesn’t make us happy. The more we buy into it, the more hideous and miserable we become.
Here’s what happens next:
-Some liberal feminists will accuse me of being misogynistic and patronizing.
-Some whiny dudes will accuse me of sucking up to feminists.
-The “men don’t hit women” position will be characterized as feminist propaganda AND anti-feminist propaganda, all at the same time.
In the end, it’s none of these things. I don’t say that men shouldn’t hit women because I’m a feminist, and I don’t say it because I’m not a feminist.
I say it because I’m a man, and because I think being a man means something.