Visiting Violent Earthlings

Boys are not supposed to hit girls, but girls are under no such geas not to hit boys, and indeed, in some jurisdictions they are often praised for such assertion. So accustomed are we to this asymmetry that we no longer see it. We should ask ourselves, therefore, how it might seem to the notional Martian Visitor. If such an extraterrestrial were to observe that half of the dimorphic human species was allowed to strike the other half, but not to be struck in return, what would he/she/it conclude about which variant was actually dominant – whatever it might tactically pretend to the contrary?

A friend with much experience of violent women (as Hugo does not) contends that women are actually the more violent sex – a truth masked by the fact that when men do choose violence, they can inflict a lot more damage. Readiness to express your wishes through violence, he points out, is not the same thing as competence at that violence. The corollary is that a person who initiates violence against someone physically capable of hammering her into the ground must either be very stupid or have an ace up her sleeve.

This ace, of course, is the reluctance of most men to pull out all the stops when assaulted by a woman. The violent females are thus living on this psychocultural capital, which will one day, individually or collectively, be exhausted. The likelihood that the old-school concept of chivalry, that boys don’t hit girls, will then survive and continue in the face of the new-school concept of the kick-ass woman, whose violence is uniquely praiseworthy, would seem remote.

If men were to adopt the female tactic of extending the word “violence” to mean anything we don’t like, with the adjective “structural” in front, what could we nominate as Violence Against Men in this secondary or metaphorical sense? One candidate might be to have to continue feeding and clothing a woman who then won’t have sex. There are surely many others. Boys, Just Say No!

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