This is going to be a tricky conversation to navigate, today, but what the hell – since when have we ever shied away from tricky conversations?
First up, prepared to be enraged. It’s the correct response, at least at the outset. Way back in 2007, Jezebel ran a post called Have You Ever Beat Up A Boyfriend? Cause, Uh, We Have, and it is enlightening, to say the least.
According to a study of relationships that engage in nonreciprocal violence, a whopping 70% are perpetrated by women. So basically that means that girls are beating up their BFs and husbands and the dudes aren’t fighting back.
The fact that women are just as prone to domestic violence as men is a no-brainer, and it’s not what I want to talk about. AVfM covers the topic with much more depth and gravitas than I could ever hope to replicate, and you can go and take a look at the relevant findings here:
The first thing I would like to talk about is what does domestic violence look like when women are the perpetrators? There is a big difference between a slap and a punch, and an even bigger difference between taking a punch from a 120 lb woman and a 320 lb man.
I mean, it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Violence from women just isn’t of the same magnitude as violence from a man. You might charge a teenager with punching you, but you wouldn’t charge a four year old, because they just can’t inflict any real damage.
Let’s take a look at that assumption: violence from women isn’t as physically bad as violence from men.
All these comments are taken directly from the Jezebel article.
I once dated an alcoholic (rite of passage for all good little girls) who came over drunk and got in my face. I punched him hard enough to knock him on his ass. After I dumped him, he served me with a restraining order, which I proudly showed off to all his friends. Stupid wimp.
When I was in high school I slapped my bf hard enough to give him a bloody nose. In front of his friends. He told me my band was “cute,” so I obviously had no choice.
I got into a lovely wrestling match with a boyfriend once. We were drunk and he was taunting me, but I didn’t want to actually hurt him so I let him win. And I used to wrestle with the boyfriend after that all the time. It was fun and playful at first, but things started to get angry. Like that one time when he lifted me up and dropped on his carpeted concrete floor… flat on my back.
Yeah, that wasn’t fun. I screamed bloody murder which scared the shit out of him, and then got up and punched whatever shit was left out of him. He became mildly terrified of me after that.
I haven’t wrestled the recent boyfriend yet, but I did learn that yelling and arguing really loudly and scarily like I do (thanks, dad!) scares him enough to win any argument. :)
Despite the fact that my boyfriend outweighed me by fifty pounds, was eight inches taller (giving him a longer reach), and was going to Kung-fu classes three times a week I beat the shit out of him. I punched him repeatedly in the stomach and once I had him cornered I threw him across the room by his penis (I hadn’t previously known that was physically possible).
My last boyfriend crossed the line (showing up drunk, refusing to leave my place) so I beat the piss out of him with, unfortunately, my favorite umbrella. I am very embarrassed by it, it went too far.
First of all i had too much to drink. Second of all things had just seemed different with my boy lately. Third he wasn’t answering his phone. Fourth, his friend told me that he didn’t want to be with me and he was at home with another girl.
So i jumped into a cab with no money. Ran out at a red light. Used my set of keys to get into his appartment. Confronted him. Slapped his glasses off his face. Bite him repeated so hard that he imediately bruised. Got out a kitchen knife. He threatened to call the cops on me and i called his bluff knowing he had too much blow in his appartment to want to bring cops in. He threw out all my shit and called my roommate to come get me. 11/21/07 3:52pm
I slapped him on his birthday, for telling me something I asked him to tell me in the first place – and then a whole bunch of other shit happened (why didn’t I see this informal survey?)
I still feel bad about it…. 8/28/07 6:55pm
When I was 17 I was fighting with my boyfriend in the car and he put the car into neutral (from drive) when I wasn’t looking. I punched him dead in the face and have regretted it ever since. More recently a male friend of mine, while in the throes mind you, told me he liked me, “but only with a small l”. I bit him so hard he had a mark for a week. And it wasn’t because I was so turned on. I regretted it again (I am a well of regret) but I have to say I think he may have had it coming. 8/28/07 7:07pm
A boyfriend and I were getting hot and heavy on the sofa and there was nudity… he whips out his cell phone to start shooting VIDEO.
He got a hard slap to the face. I feel like that is justified, not abuse, right? 8/28/07 7:08pm
Trixie from Toronto
I posted this somewhere else once, and it stopped the thread dead in its tracks, and I feared everyone thought I was psycho. But when my husband announced he didn’t love me anymore the morning after initiating passionate sex with me and telling me how much he loved me, I hurled a plastic laundry hamper at his head, bit him when he wouldn’t let me see who he was furtively texting on his Blackberry, and whipped him once with his leather belt.
I am ashamed to say that I am proud of myself given I then came down with an STD passed along to me from this douchebag via his slutbag girlfriend. 8/28/07 8:55pm
i too dated a pussy-ass alky, who tried to shove me around one drunken night. i kicked his ass, then promptly broke up with him. not only because he was a drunk but because i’m only 5’4″ and 101 lbs., and i don’t want a man who ass I can kick. 8/28/07 10:51pm
1) I punched him in the face when he showed up to my birthday party with another girl…a week after we broke up.
2) I threw his cellphone at his stupid ugly head for being a cheating asshole texting another woman from my house. Unfortunately for him, my aim is true, not once, but twice.
Fuck them both, I’d do it again many times over. 8/28/07 11:42pm
I tried to run one of my ex’s over with my car. After the gazillion fight that week, I was so sick of him. He walked out mid scream of mine, so I got in my car and went after him. The neighbor’s yard fell victim to my wrath, unfortunately. And the poor woman was there gardening. She never said anything to me though. Wonder why HAHAHAHA 8/29/07 11:38am
Never hit a guy I was dating, but I drunkenly slapped some dude on the street the other night for yelling, “Are those store bought or real?” 8/28/07 7:02pm
I slap my boyfriend on a semi-regular basis. It always hurts me more than it hurts him. And he usually agrees that he deserves it. 8/28/07 7:50pm
I think every man I have been with has received a slap from me. Every single one deserved it, says alot about my taste in men! 8/28/07 9:06pm
I bounced an alarm clock off my husband’s head from across the room once. I haven’t been able to find a decent alarm clock since. Karma’s a bitch. 8/29/07 9:22am
i’ve slapped a man and it felt good. better than the time i threw an ipod box to his face (the corner got his eye). 8/29/07 3:06pm
Well, holy shit! These comments are from supposedly self-aware feminists who would never accept a single justification for any man beating the crap out of any woman, but the glee is just so self-evident, isn’t it?
How does all the above pertain to the original question: is violence different when it comes to women dishing it out? In some cases, nope. Not at all. Trying to run someone over with a car is pretty gender neutral. Not much some extra physical strength is gonna do for you when you’re up against a Cadillac.
But the rest of it?
The only reason these women can recount their stories with such diabolical delight is because the man didn’t fight back. Oh sure, there might be one or two cases of a woman who was just straight-up stronger than the man in question, but given women’s continued preferences for men who are bigger than they are, it’s not fucking likely.
All these women who so proudly claim they “beat the shit out of a man”? Uhm, no you didn’t. You beat the shit out of someone who didn’t fight back. Kind of like claiming you are an undefeated ass-kicking champion when all your opponents have been Quakers.
What really pisses me off with these stories is not the violence, per se, but rather the delusion. Women hit, punch, slap, bite, whip men because they take for granted that they won’t get it back in spades. I don’t think a whole lot of men give a lot of thought to the fact that if they did respond, the legal reality is that they are the ones who are going to jail.
That’s undeniably true. Men are the ones arrested in DV situations, regardless of whether the violence was reciprocal or initiated by women.
But I don’t think that is what goes through a man’s mind. He goes on instinct, and the instinct is very simple: you don’t hurt women.
What makes me sick is to see these women take full advantage of that instinct with zero self-awareness, and zero thought that perhaps the privilege of protection from intimate male partner violence ought to be balanced by a few male privileges that are uncontested.
What might those privileges be?
Let’s look at Peggy McIntosh’s checklist of male privilege:
All of the items on Peggy’s list come down to one thing: men are given more responsibility and more prestige than women in the public sphere.
Could that possibly be because women are given more prestige and more responsibility in the private sphere?
Women continue to have the choice, especially if they have planned intelligently, to eschew the formal labor force and spend their lives taking care of their children and homes. They have the privilege of being assumed natural caregivers for children and family and home, and they ARE. Oh, scream all you want to – nature has designed women to care for small children. Those breasts sitting on your chest are all the evidence you need. That doesn’t mean men can’t do a good job caring for children, but most prefer to provide and have a responsible, reliable woman at home taking care of the private sphere.
Obviously, not all men have ALL THE POWER AND PRESTIGE, but even those men who survived at the bottom of the economic pyramid traditionally had the privilege of having more prestige and responsibility in the public sphere relative to their wives.
And that came with a responsibility: to surrender responsibility in the private sphere to their wives.
It’s called the Myth of Male Dominance, and we have covered the territory before.
And where are we now, as a culture? We have women who feel perfectly at ease physically assaulting the men they supposedly love, taking for granted their protection and unwillingness to reciprocate that violence, and then refusing to acknowledge that men have some earned privileges of their own.
I’m not so sure I agree with the idea that we should hold women criminally liable for domestic violence, the same way we hold men responsible. I think there is more to be gained from emphasizing that women get away with violence because men allow them to.
That leads the conversation in a very particular direction: if men wanted all women caged and pregnant with no rights of any kind, they could do that in 24 hours. Saudi Arabia, anyone?
The whole conversation about male power and privilege and how it needs to be defeated ignores the brutal reality that if men really wanted to see women oppressed and subjugated, there is jack shit we could do about that.
It would be over before we even knew it began. Margaret Atwood wrote a book called The Handmaid’s Tale in which that exact thing happens. It takes one simple measure to bring women to their knees: all bank accounts held by women are frozen and the assets are transferred to their male domestic partners or the state.
And boom, it’s lights out for feminism.
Domestic violence, when women are the perpetrators shines a gigantic, blinding spotlight on the fact that MEN ARE NOT THE ENEMY. An enemy would break your neck if you whipped him with a belt or punched him in the face. An enemy would destroy you. An enemy would have you in a chokehold pinned against the wall. An enemy would fight back.
The enemy here is an ideology that intends to keep every female privilege and dismantle every male one. It’s proceeding on men’s good graces. Men are allowing it. Because they don’t see the danger? Because the instinct to not hurt women is that strong? Because the reality is that women, despite all their delusions to the contrary, still have no real power collectively? Hanna Roisin hilariously claims that “men dither while women solve the world’s problems”.
Because she found two women with some political power. TWO! Well, yee haw!
Pay attention Hanna, you delusional bitch. Women do not make up more than 30% of the legislature in the developed world, and in the rest of the world it’s considerable less. You go right ahead and sob at the injustice of it, but you can shut your fucking mouth about “dithering men”.
Here’s a map of global prosperity:
Our stunning achievements in wealth and freedom have come under the stewardship of MEN. Pretty much every luxury and every amenity you enjoy in your life was invented, designed, manufactured, maintained and repaired by a man. Men continue to control most of the formal institutions of power in our culture, and they are the main reason you are not currently living in a fucking mud hut trading berries for hand-woven linen.
The whole conversation about domestic violence and the uselessness of dithering men and women’s double standards and delusions of power and grandeur and competence make me think of one thing:
The breaking point.
Everyone has one.
The men in Jezebel’s story, getting the shit kicked out of them by women, clearly haven’t reached theirs.
But it can’t be far off. Honestly, I hope it’s not. I’ve had just about enough of women’s bullshit. Which doesn’t matter in the slightest.
It will matter when men have had enough.
And then we’ll see, won’t we? I’m not frightened for myself, actually. Men may apply some corrective measures, but they’re not going to enslave women or chain them by the neck or do any other horrible thing.
But they might decide that a woman who whips them with a belt deserves a little taste of her own medicine. Based on Fifty Shades of Grey, there might just be a whole lot of women who would love that!
Lots of love,