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Sunday, June 22, 2014

To All the Boys I've Hit Before...

JudgyBitch recently popped up on We Hunted the Mammoth to cite a recent seven year old article in Jezebel, which she claimed celebrated women's violence against men.  I didn't read the article, and I'm not going to read it now.  All I will say is that sometimes Jezebel publishes some really dumb crap.  However, Ms. Bloomfield's comments did move me to look at my own sorry past as a perpetrator of violence against men, and folks, I have to say it ain't pretty.

And I am sorry.  I really, truly am.  And so I dedicate this post to JudgyBitch, Paul Elam, and all the boys I've ever hit (slapped, kicked, bitten, etc.):

If it helps you to forgive me, let me assure you I have carried a burden of shame over these incidents to this day.  I hope today's post will serve to acknowledge and make amends for the pain, suffering, and humiliation I may have caused.

First, I call out to Randy Richards, the first boy I ever hit.  I think we were in third or fourth grade.  Randy was a boisterous sort, high in energy and low on impulse control.  His most distinguishing physical feature, from my point of view, were two missing fingers (the result of lighting a firecracker while holding it in his hand).  This deformity was so repellant to me as a child that it was hard to hold Randy's hand during square dances, even though I cannot deny the tingles I experienced when he would swing me around in his strong, muscular arms.  Do-see-do indeed!

Randy was one of those boys who roamed the playground in feral packs, deliberately ramming into the smaller kids or otherwise wreaking havoc on the social order.  He was, in other words, "mad, bad, and dangerous to know."  One day Randy sneaked up behind me and, as was his wont, pulled up my skirt.  I turned around and punched him as hard as I could in the stomach.  As Randy sank to the ground, clutching his abdomen, his mouth quivering and eyelids fluttering, my heart also sank.  Having been (falsely) accused of pushing another boy down a slide only the week before, I knew I was in big trouble.  I dashed back to class, slunk into my seat, and awaited my certain punishment.

But to my relief and surprise, Randy never told on me.  Maybe he was embarrassed to admit a girl had hit him?  Reporting it to authorities would have compromised his tough guy image.  In fact, as I recall, he was pretty darn nice to me after that incident.  That's when I knew Randy was a mensch, a real man, a worthy recipient of my admiration and affection.  I began dreaming about the future (middle school perhaps) when Randy Richards would become my first boyfriend.  He had certainly earned the honor!  Unfortunately, Randy and I were parted by fate before I could realize my fantasy.  A foster child, he disappeared back into that labyrinth of institutionalized cruelty, gone yet never forgotten by me.  I hope he's had a good life, despite the odds stacked against him.

The next boy I hit was my first boyfriend in college.  I was eighteen, and he was a twenty-seven year old grad student, a man of the world in my freshman eyes.  I was ridiculously flattered by his attentions.  Unfortunately, he was an incorrigible player. His constant infidelities -- interspersed with his reassurances that I was still his No. 1 girl -- drove me mad with jealousy and humiliation.  Returning to the dorm after a weekend away, I caught him in flagrante delicto with a simpering, mousy girl I already detested.  I didn't hit him: I kicked him in the shin.  I didn't kick him very hard, but this being the mid seventies, I happened to be wearing three inch wooden platform sandals, so inadvertently inflicted more damage than intended.  Two years later, as he traced the faint white scar along his tibia, I shuddered with shame and remorse.

Truth be told, I was more of a thrower than a hitter or a kicker.  I threw whatever was at hand (books, naturally).  Once I threw a hair brush hard enough to dent the cinder block wall.  Fortunately, it sailed past my boyfriend's head.  I have always had lousy aim.

In Teheran, a man goosed me in the street.  This was not an unusual occurrence, but for some reason on that occasion I determined to "fight back."  I turned around and walloped him as I'd seen many Iranian women do in similar circumstances.  Since he was wearing about three layers of tweed, it was like slugging a couch.  However, unlike Randy Richards, he did not "take it like a man."  Angered by my impertinence, he slapped me across the face; a group of men quickly gathered to egg him on.  Outnumbered and overpowered, I ran away to live and fight another day.

The last man I was physically violent with was the military attache of the U.S. Consulate in Yemen.  Maybe it was just my female narcissism, but I always felt we had a kind of "thing going on."  We'd meet up at various functions, consular picnics or "dances" with the Marine guards, and it was evident he knew an awful lot about me, which made me suspect he'd been reading (or compiling) a file on me.  It was weird, but again, sort of flattering, even though I knew perfectly well the guy was a complete and utter asshole.

Spying me in a restaurant one evening, he drunkenly bawled out across the floor, imploring me not to eat the bowl of ice cream I had just been served.  Instead of ignoring him like the lady I aspire to be, I took the bowl, walked over to his table, and upended it on his head.  Worse yet, when the bowl refused to release its frozen contents, I proceeded to rap it sharply against his balding pate -- adding injury to insult.  A dozen Yemeni men leaped to their feet and drew their daggers -- in defense of whose honor I will never know -- as my mortified dinner companions swept me out to the car.  Yes, my propensity for violence against men nearly triggered an international incident...

It's been many years since I've struck another living being.  I rarely throw objects either, since I am too lazy to bend over and pick them up (although I did, in a fit of pique, throw a pen on the floor at work last week, and no, I did NOT pick it up either).  

There are many reasons that indulging in physical violence is never the best option, whether we are women or men, no matter how good it feels to give in to the impulse to lash out, or how "deserving" some people may be of being pummeled within an inch of their lives.  Not least of these reasons is that it mainly telegraphs how weak, impotent, and out of control the perpetrator is.

10 comments:

  1. I have a memory that I slapped someone once, though I can't remember why or the context. I think someone grabbed me from behind and I turned and gave him a good, satisfying slap against his face. But self defence is, I believe, OK.

    The most despicable act I did, which still shames me many years later, is when I was staying at my boyfriend's place. He was out and I was pottering round when there was a knock on the door. It was someone collecting for charity. I went into the bedroom and fished out my boyfriend's terrible, terrible dressing gown and donated it.

    That was an awful thing to do. He was obviously attached to it for sentimental reasons and although he laughed about it later, it was forced laughter. In the face of my scorn, he didn't want to admit how much he loved his dressing gown. I still feel bad about it.

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  2. I admit I find the Yemen incident kind of funny, Cinzia. If you did that in present day Seattle, though, you would probably get arrested and charged if the victim was persistent and there were witnesses.
    What really annoys me about JB and the other MRAs with their pre-school sense of grievance is that they act as though women are never held accountable for committing violence against men. They conveniently ignoring that on average 35% of all DV arrests are to women (just look at the recent incident involving Hope Solo) and that there are services available to men. Sure, there aren't as many shelters, but where I live men can get funds to stay at a local motel if they need to leave there homes. Counseling is also offered to male victims if they need it.
    JB also doesn't bother to look at the stats that show while men and women suffer verbal and milder forms of abuse (shoving, slapping, kicking, etc.) at roughly the same rates, women are four times more likely to be killed and seriously injured by intimate partners, and suffer more severe economic consequences if they decide to leave an intimate partner.
    But then again, being an MRA is about indulging in outrage, not helping men and boys.

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    1. I would find the arguments of the MRAs and people like Judgy Bitch more compelling if they would stop spinning things. Their arguments consist of "look at the bad stuff she does! Look! Look! Why are you picking on us for doing bad stuff? She's just as bad!!"

      Whereas it can be true that male violence against women is serious, while at the very same time be true that women also punch, slap, kick and injure. Both can be wrong even while, at the very same time, one is (generally) more serious (as in, more life threatening), than the other.

      The fact that they argue like this shows their real agenda - it's not about promoting safety and resources for men and boys. It's about hating women.

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    2. But then again, being an MRA is about indulging in outrage, not helping men and boys.

      Yep.

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  3. Hmm, only time I ever hit a guy was a drunken flatmate who kept trying to kiss me at eight in the morning after I'd returned home from a nightshift. It wasn't so much the repeated sexual advances as the calling me a bitch and vandalizing my stuff that made me snap and start slapping and screaming at him until he left my room. I didn't hurt him, just shocked him a bit.

    Got to say, all these years later, I'm still not sorry I did that. Does that make me an ebil feminasti?

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  4. For the first time in my life, about a month ago, I had to punch some drunk guy in the bar because he aggressively grabbed my waist and wouldn't let go. I only punched him in the arm that grabbed my waist, as opposed to his face. I doubt I hurt him, just shocked him into letting go of me.

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  5. I'm back after doing a bit of digging and finding the Jezebel article in question, it was written SEVEN years ago. If the manosphere has to reach that far back to find an example of feminists trivializing violence against men, when I only have to spend ten seconds checking out Matt Forney's latest post to find one trivializing violence against women, I'm not going to despair too much.

    That said it is a facetious and offensive article, and Jezebel should delete it as it damages their credibility. I hate it when people act like women beating men is some kind of joke, it shames male victims and infantilizes female aggressors. Though I'm not judging you for any of the things you admit to Cinzia, those stories do not constitute a history of violence :)

    The reason I'm not apologetic about what I wrote above is because I regarded that as self defence, and I didn't actually hurt him. I've actually never had a physical fight with anyone in my life.

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  6. I don't remember ever hitting a man or a boy, but I did once pinch my sister so hard that she still has a scar some 30+ years later ... and I did it over dead frogs. smh. (She did get me back later). I'm not a fan of hitting/slapping/physical assaults, but I think there's definitely an exception when it comes to self-defense.

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    1. Does hitting siblings count? Actually I rarely struck my sister but it wasn't for lack of trying (she was smaller but faster). I once deliberately slammed a door on her hand, though, And she once turned off the cold water while I was rinsing my hair in the tub: Neighbors five houses over heard my screams. Come to think of it, my younger sister has been the only person to ever elicit truly murderous rage in me.

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    2. Oooo, I once slammed my sister's face in a car door, but it wasn't intentional. She -- for some reason, probably dastardly -- was getting out on my side, and I just slammed it without even looking behind me. Wow, did she have an awful black eye. I think I cried as much as she did at the time because I felt so bad about it.

      But mind you, my sister is still perfectly capable of eliciting murderous rage in me, lol. Something about siblings knowing which buttons to push ... But I love her just as crazily. Go figure.

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