April 20, 2016

"It's interesting to think about domestic violence as a female privilege."

"In that view — domestic violence as a female privilege — the problem with men hitting women is that they are appropriating the female role."

Something I wrote in the comments to a post from a few days ago that I wanted to front-page à propos of the last line in the post I just published. In the new post, talking about a New Yorker cartoon that visualized women shooting Donald Trump, I said: "Somehow violence by women doesn't count as real violence?... Or do we in some strange, unexamined way believe that women have a violence privilege?" In the older post, I'd quoted the author Mary Beard, who recommended mocking sexist men — like Donald Trump — and used the phrase, "Go back home to mummy. She’ll smack your bottom."

I'm not advocating a female violence privilege. I'm inviting examination of the idea that we are, without thinking, accepting this female privilege. It occurred to me that the strong social disapproval of male violence against women is not only because of the big difference in upper body strength (on average) but because the man is acting like a woman.

61 comments:

rhhardin said...

Punching a guy's lights out is taken as male. Just not punching women, which yields to a male code of chivalry.

Women punching men is taken as nagging, which is the female privilege in fact. A way of life, more or less, in a truncated version of a happy marriage.

The trunated part being showing the man she's satisfied with him.

BDNYC said...

Serious question: are you new to life?

rhhardin said...

Feminism is domestic violence, by way of being nagging.

Gahrie said...

Why aren't you describing female violence as women acting like men, and since women can do no wrong, no one cares?

Hagar said...

I have never known of a wife using physical violence on her husband, but I certaily have seen and heard a number of them using verbal means to hurt and humiliate their men.

Kyzernick said...

I could tell you stories about how teasing and gently belittling the women I've loved until their words fail them and they punch me in the chest or shoulder generally leads to something I used to call "noise-complaint sex". But now that I live with my wife in our own house, all I can tell you is that teasing and belittling the woman I love until her words fail her and she punches me in the shoulder or the chest leads to something I call "hope the windows are closed or the neighbor kids picked a different sidewalk segment to play on" sex.

If one plans to do this to the woman(en) in their life, it helps to start by spending a few months doing pushups, front and side lateral raises, and pec flys. Not because the muscle will absorb the impact, but because when she feels what it is she's hitting, the transition from semi-apology to hot sexytimes goes much, much faster - these days it's almost a direct path from impact to, well, impacts.

Laslo Spatula said...

The truth in Althouse's query:

A man hitting a woman has let emotion overrun his senses.

Women letting emotion overrun their senses is women being women.

I am Laslo.

Bob Ellison said...

Oh, wow. So misogyny is the source of disapproval of men beating women?

That's a philosophical pretzel. Congratulations.

tim maguire said...

I think it's just the strength--men cannot hit women because it's expected that they could do real damage. Women are allowed to hit men because it is assumed that they cannot.

I could see how one can form the argument that because women are allowed to hit men, a man who hits a woman is assuming the female role, but it's not convincing. You'd be over analyzing.

dreams said...

Yeah, real men don't hit women.

virgil xenophon said...

AB FAB--one of the ALL-TIME, GREAT comedy series. (Of course it helps to have lived in the England to which most of their jokes referred--the UK of the late sixties/early seventies--otherwise, as in the case of Monty Python, about 1/3rd of the jokes/aside comments slip by unnoticed past Americans not living in the UK in those days and attuned to local politics and the cultural zeitgeist.)

traditionalguy said...

A revolution in power hierarchies never seeks equality. It only seeks replacement of the top position. So women who want to end the Pariarchy must become violent or tempt, or hire, hit MEN to do violence to males on their behalf.

Recognizing this, we now have a plague of Beta Males who refuse to play a role.

Laslo Spatula said...

Donkey Punch.

Because.

I am Laslo.

Bob Ellison said...

What if, say, Jim Parsons (funny actor from The Big Bang Theory) hits Ronda Rousey?

Ann Althouse said...

"Serious question: are you new to life?"

I think you are missing the point.

YoungHegelian said...

@Hagar,

I have never known of a wife using physical violence on her husband

I've had multiple male friends who have gotten hit, not so much by their wives, but definitely by their girlfriends. It was probably one of the major reasons said girlfriend didn't become "wife".

If you'd like to see "female violence privilege" in the flesh, just go look at an article on female on male violence at a women's mag like The Frisky, & look at the comments. It'll be full of women saying things like "Yeah, I used to hit my boyfriend all the time. He was such a big pussy. He deserved every bit of it, too."

And there will, of course, also be one or two voices of reason saying, in essence, it's not right for anyone to hit anyone else, regardless of gender. But voices of reason are definitely in the minority.

Ann Althouse said...

My point is that domestic violence by women is accepted in a way similar to the right to have an abortion. This is the woman's territory. The man is an outsider, allowed in at her acceptance, and she is the sovereign, making the law that governs the territory. It's a sexist notion, this privilege. It's also dehumanizing to the child.

Laslo Spatula said...

Althouse: " but because the man is acting like a woman."

YoungHegelian said... "...women's mag like The Frisky, & look at the comments. It'll be full of women saying things like "Yeah, I used to hit my boyfriend all the time. He was such a big pussy. He deserved every bit of it, too."

So the women hit the men because the men are acting like women.

So the man is acting like a woman who hits men because they act like women.

Solved.

I am Laslo.

Ann Althouse said...

"A man hitting a woman has let emotion overrun his senses. Women letting emotion overrun their senses is women being women."

Not all domestic violence is the heat-of-passion type. It can be systematic and cold. I'm theorizing that the man is feminized by using it and that society disapproves of him because he is performing the role that has been set aside for the women — which is partly about getting the children into line and also about taming the male. I don't approve of that use of violence OR that use of women. I'm just diagnosing the hostility to male violence as something more insidious than protecting women. It's keeping women in a special role that dispenses violence for the benefit of the group. It's not about female autonomy and flourishing.

tim in vermont said...

Jerry Springer came on the other day after the local news, a lady punched a guy and the audience cheered. To be honest, it did look like stage combat.

tim in vermont said...

Women are to men as breeders are to dogs. To deny female agency in evolution when women hold most of the cards is just motivated reasoning.

Laslo Spatula said...

Girl with the Pony Tail on the Treadmill:

I'd never let a man hit me.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

Never.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

But if a man did hit me I'd kick him in the balls.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

Then, when he was writhing on the ground, I'd kick him in the balls again.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

It doesn't matter if he had gotten me an Audi.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I'd say "I'm keeping the Audi, bitch."

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I really want an Audi.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I am Laslo.

Bob Ellison said...

Your use of "gotten" ages and locates you a bit, Laslo Spatula.

Does that girl put her pony-tail through the back of her baseball cap?

Michael K said...

The concept of men not hitting women is Victorian and probably dates from chivalry since other cultures, like Muslim, see no problem in beating wives and stoning strange women.

Women hitting men, I think, is more modern as the culture breaks down, which it certainly is doing.

Elder abuse involves violence against men who are too weak to defend themselves and often involves women caretakers. Of course, it also can be directed against women but it is youth against elderly.

Abuse against children is also rising as the culture breaks down.

Males "acting ,ike women" is nonsense but a common example of modern rationalization.

Birkel said...

And black guys spray painting racist messages cannot be racist.

Connect the dots, Althouse.

This bicycle needs it womansplained...

Lawler Walken said...

Where is this place where domestic violence perpetrated by women is considered acceptable or excused as simply female privilege?

The law doesn't recognize such a privilege. Maybe it's a lefty thing? It's in Hillary's platform or something.




Birkel said...

Let's examine the domestic violence rates in lesbian couples.

Now male homosexual couples.

Would those fit the yarn Althouse is spinning?

Peter said...

"Somehow violence by women doesn't count as real violence?."

Violence by women doesn't count if it can't do real damage; it's the difference between "a threat" and "a credible threat."

A man who responds to a woman's ineffective act of violence against him with real, effective violence against her likely will be prosecuted. And although I think most would agree that he should be prosecuted, doing ineffective violence to someone who could badly hurt you is a stupendously stupid thing to do.

BUT a woman who commits effective violence against a man (shooting him, burning him to death in bed)- well, that surely counts as "real" violence. As it should. A man defending himself against such violence is not "acting like a woman," he's just defending himself.

"It occurred to me that the strong social disapproval of male violence against women is not only because of the big difference in upper body strength (on average) but because the man is acting like a woman." But you offered no evidence to support this assertion.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

If I understand the Professor's point correctly it's not so much the violence itself but the state of being emotionally reactive and out of control (leading to impulsively lashing out, using violence, etc) that's supposed to be womanly. If that's the take it's interesting, at least--positing that being calm & in control is manly while being hysterical and out of control is womanly.

I think you'd still have to look at WHY that's the case, and you'd get back to the idea that men can't afford to act impulsively/be out of control since if they do (and violently attack another man) they risk being killed/seriously injured (and depriving their family of their support & care, etc) whereas women being violent posed less of a physical threat so their being out of control (emotionally) was easier to tolerate.

If we're doing Just So stories I can make one of that, sure.

Carol said...

jokes/aside comments slip by unnoticed past Americans not living in the UK

The mystery was part of Ab Fab's appeal. Better than American comedy writers' tired allusions to familiar things.

Laslo Spatula said...

"Does that girl put her pony-tail through the back of her baseball cap?"

Hell yes.

I am Laslo.

Saint Croix said...

Or do we in some strange, unexamined way believe that women have a violence privilege?

Yes.

I believe we censor abortion photographs not just because this violence upsets us, but because the publication of the photographs is a challenge to the woman's right.

Of course we deny that any violence is happening. That's why the censorship is so important. We must look away, and refuse to see it.

Laslo Spatula said...

She takes just like a woman.
She makes love just like a woman.
And then she aches just like a woman.
But she hits just like a little girl.

I am Laslo.

JohnGalt said...

Lawler Walken:

"Where is this place where domestic violence perpetrated by women is considered acceptable or excused as simply female privilege?"

In how many cartoons have we seen women wielding frying pans at their men? Does anyone remember the (apocryphal) story of Hillary throwing a lamp at Bill when she found out the truth about Monica?

Everybody thought the Hillary story was funny. Don't remember Gloria Steinem even tsk-tsking about it.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...Not all domestic violence is the heat-of-passion type. It can be systematic and cold. I'm theorizing that the man is feminized by using it and that society disapproves of him because he is performing the role that has been set aside for the women — which is partly about getting the children into line and also about taming the male

Oh whoops, I guess I did misread when I thought you were referring to the hysteria/out of control of one's emotions idea. Your clarification shows I was wrong, but your (clarified) position seems much weaker.

Disciplining children (w/violence) is woman's work? Maybe for babies, but isn't the cliche more "just wait until your father gets home"? I mean, in a domestic situation the mother might swat a child but it's the implied threat of actual violence (spanking, smack w/belt, etc) from the father that's the real incentive/threat, right?
Your point seems to rely on a widespread belief that in a family situation it's expected that the mother will be the one who uses (or threatens) violence to enforce order, and that since that's true domestic violence is seen as "woman's territory." I don't think that's the actual widespread belief, though; certainly not in the past--the father was seen as the ultimate disciplinarian (with the understanding that the mother might scold and even spank but the father would use actual violence if necessary), no?

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I was taught you don't hit girls, guys smaller than you, guys wearing eyeglasses, or guys with braces.

When fighting, there was to be no kicking, no biting, no scratching, and no pulling of clothing.

There was no rule against hair pulling, probably because no guy had long hair back in those days.

I recall that it was a standard cartoon trope that an ugly housewife would whack her husband with a frying pan or a rolling pin.

Hey, at least she cooked.

Char Char Binks said...

@Bob Ellison

Don't fuck with Laslo.

At least he didn't have Girl with the Pony Tail on the Treadmill say "garnered".

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...which is partly about getting the children into line and also about taming the male.

"Taming the male" is a pretty bad take, too. I thought the line was that communities with high rates of criminality among its young also had high rates of fatherlessnes, no? Isn't that what we all agreed, that without a strong father around to impose order and allow young men to model good behavior the juveniles would grow up wild & violent?

If you're right that it's the woman/mother who actually tames the young men then you'd think communities or groups with lots of single mothers would have rates of violence no worse that groups with more intact families. Does that sound plausible? Do you have any reason to think that's true or likely?

Mark said...

Look at all these quaint references to "men" and "women," together with stereotypes of how each should act.

Don't you know that we are beyond all that now?

Mark said...

If we apply the female violence privilege to today's culture, although it was horribly wrong for Bruce to hit Chastity, is it now OK when Caitlyn hits Chaz?

Bob Ellison said...

HoodlumDoodlum said, "If I understand the Professor's point correctly it's not so much the violence itself but the state of being emotionally reactive and out of control (leading to impulsively lashing out, using violence, etc) that's supposed to be womanly."

Yes.

But it's horrible. We're supposed to be civil animals.

There's a weird notion out there that says women can be as weird as they want, even to the point of violence. It's not pretending men are women or women are men or anything like that. It's LSD. Just pure "I can get away with this".

furious_a said...

Somehow violence by women doesn't count as real violence?..

Sharon Tate was unavailable for comment.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

My husband's first wife was physically and emotionally abusive to him, but he felt it was his duty to endure it because she was mentally ill and had substance abuse problems and was unable to hold down a job or provide for herself. He had no respect for her whatsoever, and neither did anyone in their circle who knew their secrets, which is the flipside of that 'female privilege.' Sure, she got away with stuff that no decent man would ever get away with--essentially occupying the same plane of existence as an exceptionally mean spirited housecat--but she had no respect or regard from anyone in her life, including her husband.

damikesc said...

Yeah, real men don't hit women.

Keep in mind, "women" includes some modicum of dignified behavior. If none is provided, then she is not a woman and shouldn't be treated as one.

I've drilled into my boys' heads that the first time a girlfriend or wife hits you, you walk out on her and never turn back. Period. Because it'll only escalate and, eventually, you'll have to hurt her to defend yourself.

Bob Ellison said...

The idea that lesbians sometimes beat up their partners would seem to be tantalizing to many anti-gay folks. But it does happen.

Women are not pre-wired to be non-violent or violent. They're just not as strong or heavy, on average, as most men.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

A common excuse for her abusive behavior, which was related to her borderline personality disorder and her substance abuse, was "I'm sick. I didn't choose to be this way. If I had cancer you wouldn't blame me for the symptoms. I can't help that I'm mentally ill. I can't help that I'm an addict."

No one would ever, ever accept such excuses from a man, but she kind of got away with it because she was a woman and people expected less from her because she was a woman. Not quality people, but still.

Michael K said...

"about taming the male."

That used to be called "marriage" but that is so old fashioned.

Tamed males and marriage still exist but only in middle class and upper class communities.

Sebastian said...

"we are, without thinking, accepting this female privilege. It occurred to me that the strong social disapproval of male violence against women is not only because of the big difference in upper body strength (on average) but because the man is acting like a woman." No, not "we," not all of us just yet. And "not only" are weasel words: how much is the acting-like-a-woman supposed to add to disapproval? How would one test whether it does, in fact, intensify disapproval, either in individuals or across a population? How much additive effect would confirm your hypothesis? What factors would you want to control for to make it a fair test?

The basic point is correct: when it comes to violence, as with many other issues, female privilege rules. But it is not accepted "without thinking": instead, it is deliberately, constantly, disingenuously promoted and enforced. Feminism is simply the most public form, rationalized by the women-are-human trope and other such BS.

Thorley Winston said...

I have never known of a wife using physical violence on her husband

I seem to recall back when the Violence Against Women Act was passed that there were some “inconvenient” studies done that showed that women were more likely than men to be the ones to escalate things, e.g. going from verbal to physical, going from hitting with their hand to using an object as a weapon, etc.


Dan Hossley said...

"...but because the man is acting like a woman." By analogy then, if a man hits another man, we disapprove because he is acting like a women? You lost me with the invocation of "privilege" as an explanation.

Women are treated differently than men for lots of reasons. It's only bad when it disadvantages women. It's generally ignored when it advantages women. This is particularly true in the legal system.

Dude1394 said...

My biggest arguments (that either turned physical or almost turned physical ) in public were when a woman thought she could say anything she wanted without getting hit by the person she was cursing, getting in the face of.

Yea, it's a female privilege for sure. Promoted by movies. For example, how shocked is a woman when after she slaps a man, he slaps her back! Oh my goodness.

How many times does domestic violence get escalated by women. We probably will never know because it is the man who is almost always handcuffed.

H said...

I with Dan Hossley, saying I don't really get this line of argument. Black people are "permitted" to wear teeshirts that say "It's a black thing, you wouldn't understand." I suppose that could be construed as "black privilege". But a white person espousing a racist sentiment would be excoriated for espousing the sentiment, not for "acting black".

Scott M said...

is it now OK when Caitlyn hits Chaz?

Pre-op or post-op?

Brian said...

"Sharon Tate was unavailable for comment."

Mary Winkler was available but couldn't stop laughing.

damikesc said...

Tragic thing is, when a woman hits a man and gets no retaliation, she then realizes she CAN GET AWAY with it. And will do it more and more frequently.

...and she'll be then stunned if the guy snaps and beats the shit out of her back.

If you start shit, shit won't happen.

Bryan C said...

So it comes that Man, the coward, when he gathers to confer
With his fellow-braves in council, dare not leave a place for her
Where, at war with Life and Conscience, he uplifts his erring hands
To some God of Abstract Justice—which no woman understands.

And Man knows it! Knows, moreover, that the Woman that God gave him
Must command but may not govern—shall enthral but not enslave him.
And She knows, because She warns him, and Her instincts never fail,
That the Female of Her Species is more deadly than the Male.

Runyard Kipling was right about pretty much everything.

David said...

"I'm inviting examination of the idea that we are, without thinking, accepting this female privilege."

I believe that quite a bit of thought has gone into this. It's not new, either. I doubt there is any reliable data on the percentage of women who initiate domestic violence. Who could you possibly believe. But I'm damn sure it has been a significant percentage for quite a long time. I could tell tales but it would be imprudent.

Part of being a man is not making excuses. Accept responsibility for your mistakes. If the nature of your mistake is not clear, or to you, accept it as fate. In a large percentage of those cases, what seems like fate is actually the result of some bad decision you have made or a failure of anticipation.

The drunk college students, male and female, who complain about the injustices that arise from their sexual interactions would particularly profit from this approach.

Char Char Binks said...

Maybe it's not so much that men who beat women are acting like women, but that they're usurping the female privilege to beat someone, and violating the woman's the privilege of not getting beaten.

Freeman Hunt said...

My husband has never and would never hit me, but if, in some alternate dimension wherein he was a completely different person, he did, I would almost certainly end up in the hospital, and there is a not negligible chance that I would die. I have never and would never hit my husband, but if, in some alternate dimension wherein I was a completely different person, I did, he would be very annoyed.

That's the difference.

Freeman Hunt said...

Women shouldn't be hitting people though.

In any case, the privilege is the man's: the privilege of far greater physical strength.

Rusty said...

Blogger Freeman Hunt said...
Women shouldn't be hitting people though.

In any case, the privilege is the man's: the privilege of far greater physical strength.

I only personally know of two instances of domestic violence that were reported to the police. In both instances the woman was responsible. One, putting her husband in he hospital. Oh. and both women used their fists.