Have you – women reading this – ever beaten a man? Or even hit one?
I wonder how feminists will react to the above headline. Yet, if I were a man and were to write about meting out similar treatment to women, all hell would break loose. No, I am not promoting violence of any sort against any person of any sex. But I AM thinking...
I, for one, have slapped at least 8-10 boys/men in my life. It was never because I wanted to hurt them per se and was always because they did something to incite me to violence. The first time was aged 9 when this stupid boy kissed me. I clearly remember slapping him to save face. I was not embarrassed by the kiss, but was humiliated when the other kids laughed at me. So I hit him.
The next incident was aged 12, when this fat boy grabbed me from behind and tried to forcedly hug me. I placed a cracking one on his cheek. I still remember his shocked face. He put a hand on the cheek I had slapped and simply walked away. Other reactions weren’t that simple…
The autorickshaw driver I slapped in the face – with a hysterical friend screaming beside me – because I was sure he was trying to kidnap us… Aged 27. The man in Newmarket, Calcutta, who – even when I was walking with my mother – came and grabbed my breast and squeezed. I was 14. Another man outside Palika Bazaar, New Delhi, who’d grabbed me too. The man I was dating said nothing and asked me to ignore the incident. I had fumed, followed the offender, turned him around and slapped him, even as a crowd of Delhi men around me whistled and jeered. Not at him, at me… And of course I had dumped the boyfriend. Aged 24.
And yet when I read reports about violence, it is always assumed that women are incapable of it. In fact women being violent against men takes on sexual tones. Not surprisingly, a Google search of ‘woman beat man’ primarily yielded results that included a fat man being spanked on a sexy woman’s knees and another that had a black man and a white woman sidling up to each other, her hand in his pants. Other image results were mostly toons.
I have never heard of any stories where a woman regularly beat up a man. Actually, no. I have heard one story. This friend’s mother used to regularly beat up –yes, literally beat up, she used a rolling pin I’m told – his father. I didn’t have the temerity to ask for reasons and found it quite hard to digest the story. Still do.
The Charlize Theron starrer Monster – on American serial killer Aileen Wuornos’ life – had people shocked. More because the murderer was a woman than because of serial murders being committed. Often I’ve heard friends express shock and surprise if ever there is a story of a woman murderer. A woman is generally considered hurt, angry, bitchy, cranky, bitter, a mother, nurturer, friend, confidant, martyr, etc… but never violent.
In April 2008, there was a huge furore when six girls in Florida ganged up on another girl and beat her up mercilessly. They were all 16. I had seen the video earlier but it has since been taken off YouTube. An Italian research in May 2008 declared that women were indeed becoming more violent. See Jane Hit, was a 2006 book on the same issue. Another research - done jointly by the Universities of Florida and South Carolina -- said that of 2,500 students surveyed, 32 per cent women (against 24 per cent) women accepted to perpetrating emotional, mental and physical violence on their partners...
Somehow it seems that even if a woman was violent, her violence is presumed to be directed more towards herself – self-mutilation etc – than towards other people. And it makes me wonder. Apart from the difference in physical strength – men being stronger than women – why does violence from a woman surprise people? Is it because the worst is expected of men or is it because women are incapable of violence?
Or is that belief really changing?
PS: I am researching on something and thereby thinking woman and violence. I also came upon this interesting story from 2005. She beat her husband into perhaps giving up gambling.
'Violent Women'?: An explorative study of women's use of violence