Sunday, May 25, 2014

Violence is Violence

There's a women's movement going on in the US right now, and in many ways it's righteous, necessary, and frankly overdue. One of the problems with this and most other waves of "pro-woman" social activism, though, is that the tone quickly shifts from "Men who abuse/rape/marginalize women are wrong" to "All men are evil." A hypocrisy takes over, wherein all women are absolved of wrong because they're women, and all men are charged with crimes of inhumanity because they're men.

If you've been keeping up with the #YesAllWomen tag on Twitter today, you've seen the evil that some men can do. But the world is much too complicated of a place to to trace the line between the genders and claim it to also be the dividing line between wrong and right. Not all men are rapists. Not all women are innocent. Just as there are evil, asshole men out there that make life that much more difficult for the good guys, there are evil, asshole women out there who make life that much more difficult for the good gals.

From BuzzFeed:
DareLondon set up a hidden camera experiment to see how strangers would react to seeing domestic abuse for ManKind’s #ViolenceIsViolence campaign.

A couple (portrayed by actors) in a London park get into a heated argument and things begin to get out of hand. The man begins to physically abuse his “girlfriend.” Onlookers immediately notice and take action. One woman even walks up to the guy yelling, “What’s wrong with you?”

...Then the situation changes. The actors recreate the same scenario, except this time the woman is abusing the man.

I never have hit a woman, nor could I ever envision myself doing so. And most of the guys I know are of the same mold. But I've seen women take advantage of that, and get away with murder in return. I once saw a woman throw heavy, glass objects at the head of her boyfriend—knowing he'd had severe head injuries in the past—and show zero remorse for it. She wasn't in danger or defending herself in any way when she decided to risk maiming/killing the man she claimed to love; they were having an argument and he, a small guy only slightly bigger than her, was 10 feet away, making no physically threatening movements.

By all definitions of justice, she should have gotten her ass kicked that night. But she was dating a good guy, and she knew there would be no physical retribution for her actions. So he dodged the ashtray and candlestick, and kept himself 10 feet away from her. And when the police arrived, he was the one who had to leave the home they shared, and he was threatened with a night in jail.

Despite having witnessed this episode, I know better than to identify all women as crazy bitches who will try to escalate an altercation from verbal to physical, all because they have the upperhand in the court of public opinion. It's unfair to those who strive to act right when you paint them with the same brush as those who've failed to live up to that standard. For years now we've striven to eradicate stereotypes and profiling techniques that characterize someone as lazy, criminal, or uneducated solely because of his or her skin color. So why doesn't the same moderation and reasoning get applied when the issue is one of gender?

Is abuse wrong because the person getting hit is innocent, or because the person getting hit is a woman? This is 2014, when old-fashioned gender roles are steadily being rewritten. Does this mean that if a lesbian beats her partner to within an inch of her life, the whole thing doesn't merit a 911 call? And if a gay man shoves his husband, does he get thrown in jail? Maybe action should be the balancing point for the scales of justice, not gender? Maybe, we should just refer to the wisdom of Chris Rock:

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