On men who hit women back

This is a response to a Facebook post from a young man of my acquaintance who posted a video of women who physically assault men under the assumption, which in this particular video always turns out to be invalid, that the men will not hit back. My young friend, of whom I happen to have a very high opinion in general, is not happy about the violence but is even more unhappy about the idea that women should be able to hit men without men’s being able to hit back, which he perceives as a “double standard” — and he doesn’t think double standards are acceptable. I generally agree that double standards are bad, but not in this particular case, and this is my attempt to help him see why I don’t wind up in the same place he does.

I express myself rather freely on the issue of how liberals go astray by way of category errors; but that is because the difference between my view and my friend’s view arises precisely from category errors and specifically from his having accepted the liberal way of framing the question. You needn’t agree with my view of liberalism as a whole to accept that in this particular case “strong/weak” is a more relevant moral classification than “male/female.”

I’m not with you on this one, buddy; I think the double standard is good. This is because I believe that chivalry is a good thing — something I say with some reluctance as I am practically certain to be misunderstood by the historically illiterate, especially feminists.

Generally speaking, the primary point of chivalry is that the strong should defend, rather than exploit, the weak, and that those who are overwhelmingly stronger than others should be generous enough to tolerate bad behavior directed at them by people who are not able to do them real harm. Ignore the feminist carryings-on about chivalry’s being a patriarchal plot; chivalry was not primarily about roles of men and women, but was about the role of the strong versus the weak — it just happens that, given that we are a sexually dimorphic species of primate, the strong have always been overwhelmingly men, and women have always fallen overwhelmingly in the category of the (physically) weak and exploitable. You note that I do NOT say that the weak have always been overwhelmingly women:practically any unarmed men is hopelessly weak in comparison to a young and professionally trained knight in armor; and the social function of chivalry was as much the regulation of the behavior of strong men toward weak men as it was the regulation of the behavior of strong men toward weak women. The behavior I would hope to see from the men in these videos is directly analogous to the behavior of Don Pedro and Claudio (young and vigorous soldiers at their peak of physical ability) when they are attacked in Much Ado About Nothing by the enraged Leonato and Antonio (old men who no doubt were strong in their day but now clearly would be no match for the youngsters).

And the principle is wider than chivalry, for chivalry had to do only with physical force; but there are many different kinds of strengths and weaknesses. In most marriages, for example, it is true that in a fistfight, the wife will be no match for the husband. But it is also true that in the majority of marriages, in a purely verbal argument the husband will be no match for the wife. The principle of “the strong do not take advantage of the weak, and indeed the strong tolerate a certain amount of clumsy bad behavior on the part of persons too weak to be a real threat,” applies to husband’s not beating their wives in fistfights; but then it also applies to wives’ not humiliating their husbands in argument. I grew up in a world where only the trashiest of white trash men beat their wives, and where if it became known that a man had hit his wife, no decent man would have anything to do with him. But if this had been the only rule, then it would have shifted power entirely to the wives in most cases, who would have been free to take full advantage of their superiority in verbal facility to make their husband lives’ miserable, secure in the knowledge that they could win every argument and never have to fear their husbands would in frustration resort to beating them into silence. (“The husband is the head. But the woman is the neck. And the neck can turn the head any way it wants.”) And so decent women had as little respect for a woman who “henpecked” her husband, or who went around insulting and ridiculing her husband to family and friends, as decent men had for husbands who beat their wives. Now, there are people who consider that these “decent” women were traitors to their sex and were on the side of the patriarchy; but those people are overwhelmingly liberals who, thanks to their own loyalties and to their abject conformity to the acceptable patterns of thought in their social circles, automatically assign people into categories of gender and race as the first step in any analysis of social causality or in the choosing of sides in controversies. But what “decent men” and “decent women” had in common, in the world I grew up in, was that they did NOT form their primary loyalties on the basis of gender and race. My father and I had no loyalty to any “brotherhood” of men, and my mother and sister had no loyalty (to the fury of the feminists of the Seventies and Eighties) to any “sisterhood” of women. We based our loyalties on moral character, and the classification of strong and weak mattered much more than that of male and female – precisely because, when it comes to moral character, men and women ARE equal in virtue, or from a different perspective equal in nastiness, to any reasonable degree of precision. We had a great deal of respect for the physically strong who were gentle with the physically weak, which would generally include men who were gentle with women and children and certainly with their wives and offspring. And we had a great deal of respect for the verbally strong and intelligent who were emotionally generous and who could disagree without belittlement and could persuade without verbal abuse; this meant that we admired wives who, though capable of winning any argument they might have with their husbands, were always careful to be gentle with said husbands’ egos and feelings.

In short, one of the fundamental ways in which you measure a person’s character – whether male or female – is simply this: where they have an overwhelming natural superiority over another person in some respect, do they take advantage of that superiority to dominate the other person? Or do they show generosity and tolerance to those who pose no serious threat to them?

So I think you are falling into a very common intellectual trap. Very often the issue is not so much that someone has answered a question wrong, as it is that they have ASKED the question wrong; they have framed the question to begin with in a way that makes it impossible to get a right answer. You are accepting the liberal premise that moral analysis should always work from classifications based on gender and race, and are taking feminists seriously when they say that women and men should be treated “equally.” And therefore you object to a “double standard” based on gender. You start, that is, from a premise of equality. But when it comes to physical strength and the capacity to do harm with one’s bare fists, men and women are NOT equal; the liberal premise is in this case (as in so many others) a hypothesis contrary to fact. When a woman punches a man in the face and his head barely moves, and then he responds with a right cross to the jaw that knocks her backwards through a plate-glass window…frankly I think a double standard is absolutely called for.

Strong versus weak, my man. Not man versus woman. Strong versus weak. The single most important step in any social analysis is choosing the categories in terms of which the analysis will be framed. Don’t get it wrong, and don’t let the obsessions that Millennials have been socially conditioned to be dominated by (gender! race! privilege!) constrain your thinking. Strong versus weak. That is the moral category that is relevant here.

And I should say, as a final note, that when it comes to men who are physically attacked by women intending, and trying, to do them physical harm, I have rather extensive personal experience; this has not always been, for me, a theoretical academic exercise. If being physically attacked by a women who intends to hurt you gives you the right to hit back, then I have had more than my share of opportunities to beat a woman silly and claim self-defense as a justification. But all the same I never have hit a woman, and I would not think much of myself if I ever had. For the strong must be generous to the weak.

Originally I stopped here, because my posts tend to be too long, and while I had several more points I felt like making, each point took me further from the original Facebook post. But then I got some constructive criticism from a friend who read that post and who specifically noted the lack of…a point I had decided not to make because I thought it was off-topic. So maybe it wasn’t so off-topic after all — at any rate, I’ve decided to go ahead and add the rest.

Now if you recognize that the issue is strong-versus-weak rather than man-versus-woman, this allows you to recognize exceptional cases where the roles are reversed. If I, for example, with my perfect 800 verbal SAT score, were to marry Ronda Rousey, then rather obviously it would be my task not to humiliate the lady in verbal arguments and it would be her task not to kick my butt into next week every time I sassed her.

Not all of the implications, however, are so obvious; and some of the consequences of framing the question as a gender question rather than a strength/weakness question are actually both quite subtle and quite destructive. Consider what follows from the following true statements:

  • For any randomly selected man and woman, it is overwhelmingly true that the man will win if things come down to a fistfight.
  • For any randomly selected man and woman, it is true more often than not — but not overwhelmingly true — that the woman will win a verbal argument.

Do you see that it follows, just statistically speaking, that (a) in many marriages one of the partners will be able to abuse the other both physically and verbally, and (b) when that happens, it will overwhelmingly be the man who is in a position to abuse the woman? This is so, not because men are more evil than women (they are not), but simply because the generalization, “Men are able to physically dominate women,” is a significantly more valid generalization than is the generalization, “Women are able to verbally dominate men.”

Furthermore, marriage is a special case among human relationships in general, because even emotionally healthy adults are vulnerable to emotional abuse within marriage. A wife who constantly torments her husband verbally is not as damaging to her husband as a husband who beats his wife…but she’s not that far behind, and if the husband feels any meaningful cultural or moral constraint on indiscriminate wife-beating she frequently can more than hold her own. But as I say, the words of spouses and parents and siblings possess greatly amplified destructive power because of the peculiar intimacy of the relationship. Under ordinary circumstances, however, among the emotionally mature in less intimate relationships, the fact that women are typically more verbally adept while men are more physically powerful would leave women at a serious disadvantage, barring social constraints on men’s use of violence against women. So the power disparity of men’s greater facility in violence would not be cancelled out by women’s greater verbal facility even if the two generalizations were perfectly equally valid.

This is another point that is obscured by modern liberalism, actually, because modern liberalism is doing everything in its power to obscure the critical distinction between actual violence and verbal abuse. Terms such as “verbal violence” are deeply dishonest terms, which exist precisely and solely to disguise the dramatic and critical distinction between insults (much less mere disapproval) and assault.

Every child used to be told, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Then in the Sixties you started getting psychologists saying, “This is stupid; words do too hurt.” Alas, there was indeed stupidity involved, but the locus of the stupidity was slightly misidentified by the pop psychologists, who merely were proving that they did not understand the point of the saying. Of course words hurt — if you are a five-year-old child, or if you have suffered severe emotional trauma that keeps you from being able to function as an emotionally stable and independent adult, or if the words are coming from somebody (like a father or wife) whose relationship to you makes their opinion of you deeply fundamental to your self-esteem, or if you are a Special Snowflake of a spoiled Millennial brat whose parents failed dramatically to raise a grown-up. But one of the most fundamental, essential prerequisites of becoming an adult is learning to ignore the opinions of idiots. We teach children to say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” not because it is true for the children at the time, but because they have to learn not to care what other people think…with three exceptions that I will detail in a moment.

This is one of the things that to me is quite striking about the approach that schools have started taking to “bullying” in the last few years. The world has, and always will have, bullies; and children, until they can acquire the maturity and self-confidence to be able to say quite truthfully, “Words will never hurt me,” are peculiarly vulnerable. This means that schools and parents have two main jobs. (1) They must, as much as they can, raise their own children to be kind and generous and honorable, and not to be bullies. (2) They must raise children up to be able to deal with the bullies that they are inevitably going to meet in life — which includes knowing how to stand up to physical bullies, and also how simply to ignore verbal bullies.

As far as I can tell, in modern schools the focus has in the past few years shifted rapidly in two ways. First, when I was a child we knew perfectly well the difference between the kind of bully who waited for you after school and bloodied your nose, and the kind of nasty person who insulted you and said bad things about you. Usually we reserved the word “bully” for violent bullies; verbal bullies were “vicious” or “nasty” but not usually “bullies.” The fact that “bullying” now means almost always “saying hurtful things” is a linguistic shift that goes along with the eradication of the distinction between insult and violence.

But secondly, as far as I can tell we have largely abandoned any idea of instilling in children the idea that they need to learn to ignore nasty people who insult them. It is as if the schools think that the only possible solution is to ensure that the world has no bullies in it, which is likely to happen…well, never; we’ll overcome the law of gravity before we universally overcome the part of human nature that produces bullies, especially since, no matter what rules we put in place to stop bullies, the smarter bullies will figure out how to manipulate the rules so that the rules themselves become the bullying tools of choice. Now, do you need to stand up for other people who are being insulted? Sure. But should you allow yourself to be butt-hurt because of what the Mean Girls say about you? Absolutely not — or, well, when you are five, you are going to be hurt; but the grownups need to be coming along beside you and holding your hand, emotionally speaking, helping you to learn not to care the same way they help you learn to ride a bicycle. So by the time you’re in high school you ought to be getting the hang of it, and if you go to college as a person so emotionally weak that if you hear a speaker utter a political opinion with which you disagree you have to flee to the campus counseling office in search of a safe space, then your parents are abject failures, and your school’s anti-bullying program is not exactly covered in glory. For an “anti-bullying” program that does not help people learn how to deal with bullies effectively, as emotionally full-grown adults, is an anti-bullying program that is not worth much.

And one of the very first conditions of dealing effectively with bullies, is learning to tell the difference between the kind of bully who can actually hurt you, and the kind of bully who is only going to revile and insult you. Because the guy who reviles and insults you does not actually do you any harm, at least not if you’re an emotionally stable and healthy grown-up. Verbal violence is not violence, and a person who can beat you up with impunity is in a completely different position than is a person who can insult you with impunity but can do no more than that.

I have been banging on Americal leftists for most of this post, because this whole question is an area in which the liberal presuppositions and analytical categories are peculiarly destructive, both rationally and morally. But I don’t want you to imagine, therefore, that this is a liberal/conservative issue, merely because that is how it presents itself in America. Part of the definition of a “face” culture such as the Chinese culture or the neo-Scottish-highlander Appalachian culture that gave us the Hatfields and the McCoys, is precisely that in a “face” culture a purely verbal insult is perceived as being the full equivalent of a physical assault; and this blindness has recurrently catastrophic effects.

Here, for example, is Arthur Smith, imagining what would have happened had George Washington and his father been 19th-century Chinese villagers (from Village Life in China, published in 1899):

Mr. Hua Hsing-tun was a well-to-do farmer, who had in his courtyard a handsome pomegranate tree of which he was very proud. His youngest son one day got hold of a sickle, which had been sharpened ready to cut wheat the next morning. With this implement he chopped at everything he saw, and among the rest, at the pomegranate tree, which fell at the third blow. Seeing what mischief he had done, he ran to the other end of the village where he played with some boys whom he told that a cousin (the third son of his fourth uncle) had done the deed. This was overheard by a neighbor who passed on to the other end of the village just in time to hear Mr. Hua angrily roaring out the inquiry who had spoiled his pet tree. During a lull in the storm the neighbour, who had stepped into the courtyard to see what was the matter, confided to another neighbour that it was the nephew who had done the mischief. The neighbours soon depart. As no one in the yard knows anything about the tree, Mr. Hua, white with rage, continues his bawling upon the village street, denouncing the individual who has killed his tree. An older son who has just come up, having heard the story of the two neighbours, repeats it to his father, who gaining at last a clue, rushes to his fourth brother’s yard, only to find no one at home but his sister-in-law, whom he begins to revile in the most outrageous manner. For an instant only she is surprised, then takes in the situation and screams at her brother-in-law, returning his revilings with compound interest added. He retreats into the alley and thence to the street, whither she follows him, shrieking at the top of her voice.

At this junction the unfortunate nephew alleged to be the author of the mischief attracted by the clamour comes home, when the infuriated uncle administers a great deal of abusive language relative to his illegitimate descent from a base ancestry, as well as a stunning blow with a stick. This drives the mother of the child to frenzy, and she attacks her brother-in-law by seizing his queue, being immediately pulled off by the second brother, and some neighbours, there being now fifty or more spectators. The fourth sister-in-law is forcibly dragged back to her own yard by several other women, screaming defiance as she goes, and ends by scratching her own face in long furrows with her sharp nails, being presently covered in blood. Her husband has now come in furious at the insult to his family, reviles the elder brother (and his ancestry) declaring that he will immediately go to the yamen [police headquarters] and lodge a complaint. He takes a string of cash and departs on this errand, but is subsequently followed several miles by six men, who spend two hours in trying to get him to return, with the promise that they will “talk peace.” About midnight they all reach home. Most of the next five days is spent in interviews between third parties, who in turn have other conferences with the principals. At the expiration of this period all is settled. Mr. Hua the elder is to make a feast at an expense of not less than ten strings of cash, at which he shall admit that he was in error in reviling this sister-in-law at that time; the younger brother is to accept the apology in the presence of fourteen other men who have become involved in the matter at some of its stages. When the feast has been eaten, “harmony” is restored. But what about the author of all this mischief? Oh, “he is only a child.” With which observation the whole affair is dismissed, and forgotten.

It is extremely important to have a strong sense of honor — in the sense that there should be things that you refuse to do because you would be ashamed of yourself if you were to do them. But this has primarily to do with your own ability to look yourself in the mirror, and it cannot be affected by the insults of the foolish and malicious. In a “face” culture, tragically, “honor” is defined not by what you know about yourself, but by what other people say about you — “honor” becomes “reputation,” and all too often “honor” comes to mean not, “I will ensure that nobody can truthfully speak ill of me,” but instead, “I will ensure that nobody dares to speak ill of me.” When it is culturally acceptable to respond to insults with violence, the result is tragedy. That is the case with “face” cultures such as the Chinese or what Thomas Sowell labels “redneck” (unfortunate terminology on his part since by “redneck” he clearly means “white trash”), and it has become a characteristic of the Far Left as well. I realize that to most of the white liberal elite there could be no greater insult than to say, “You’re just like a redneck,” but in this respect — namely, the inability to distinguish between insults and actual violence — it is true. Witness Sally Kohn, who responded to the Orlando nightclub shootings by insisting that it was as much the fault of evangelical Christians as it was of Islam: “Islamic extremists kill LGBT people. Christian and Jewish extremists [such as, say, Mike Huckabee] just drive us to commit suicide.” And I think that she was quite serious; that she genuinely cannot perceive any difference between on the one hand saying to somebody, “I think what you are doing is immoral and displeasing to God,” and on the other hand shooting that somebody in the head.

But once you have reached the point of not being able to see that difference, you are in a genuinely pathological state; and when you have an entire culture or subculture that cannot see that difference, very bad things begin to happen.

Now I said above that there are three exceptions to the rule that children should learn not to care what other people think, and promised to explain them, which promise I now proceed to keep.

First, you should care about the opinions of wise people who know you well and mean you well, because those opinions stand a good chance of being right, and if you deserve the criticism then you need to pay attention to it and make the necessary personal changes. Indeed, even when an enemy criticizes you, if you have some spare time on your hands, you should ignore the fact that his criticism proceeds from malice and examine yourself to see whether it is justified; but this is black-belt adulthood, so to speak. Given that time is our most precious commodity, the prudent person builds a list of people whose opinions are valuable; he pays attention to those people’s opinions; and he wastes no time on others. This is simply the practical application of the principle that there are two kinds of people, those who want to be good people and those who want to feel good about themselves — and you should be the first kind of person. (Note, by the way, that the most valuable opinions come from people who are wise, and who know you well, and who mean you well, and who disagree with you about practically everything. These are the people from whom you learn the most.)

Second, you should care about the opinions of the people in your family (and similar intimate and at least semi-permanent associations such as your church), because conflict within the family is peculiarly destructive to the emotional health of the members thereof. This is also why a wife who ridicules her husband, or a father who ridicules his child, does more damage than a customer who insults a shopkeeper or an old fart who makes sarcastic remarks about spoiled Millennial brats.

Lastly, you should care about the opinions of people if they have the power to actually hurt you — if they are not merely insulting, but potentially violent; or if there is a serious chance that they could make a false accusation stick in court (thus getting the court to inflict violence on you); or if there is a significant chance that they could turn against you other people who have the power to hurt you (your boss, who could fire you, or your fiancee, who could call off the engagement, or your daughter, who could refuse to speak to you for years). The proverb can be turned around: “Words can never hurt me, but sticks and stones may break my bones.” That proverb encapsulates a distinction that is critically important, both in your personal life and in social and political analysis: violence is a separate category from insult, and verbal violence is not, you know, actually violence. When I openly disapprove of your sexual preference (but threaten no violence), and you respond by calling in the Canadian government to have me thrown into jail for “hate speech,” your response is disproportionate (not to mention childishly immature), because you have resorted to violence. The term “verbal violence” exists for no other purpose than to blur this distinction, in service of various personal and political agendas.

But distinctions are real even if stupid people can’t see them or disingenuous people pretend they are not there, and you must never lose sight of that distinction. Women are generally better at verbal “violence,” while men are better at violence; but that does not mean that men are better at one kind of violence and women are better at a different kind of violence. It means that men are better at violence, period. And that represents a fundamental inequity in natural fact between men and women, which any society needs to adjust for. By far the best way to adjust for it is simply to ensure that children in general are raised to know that it is the task of the strong to protect, rather than to exploit, the weak — to raise all children to have a sense of true honor that is founded on their own behavior rather than on the opinions of others, and to feel to the depths of their soul that it is dishonorable for the strong to dominate the weak.

And if a society chooses this path, then given the natural advantages almost all men have over all women when it comes to violent conflict, it will inevitably wind up with what looks like a double standard in which it is shameful for men to hit women, even, in almost all cases, when a woman hits them first. To me, the existence of such a double standard is not a sign of “inequity” and is most certainly not an evidence of “patriarchal microaggression.” The existence of that particular double standard is a sign that a society is not yet completely lost to sanity.

(By the way: one of the things you do when helping someone learn to deal with the kind of bully that can actually hurt them, is to empower them to be able to defend themselves against the bully. I have never been able even for the tiniest moment to understand why people who are aware of the tremendous damage abusive men do to wives and girlfriends and exes by physical violence, are in favor of gun control — for most women, the only thing that will equalize the violence disparity between them and their abuser, is a weapon. Men do not need guns in order to kill the women they abuse. I just don’t at all grasp why people who are advocates for women who suffer from domestic violence can support laws that deny to those women their only likely effective means of self-defense.)

Now I’m going to cover one more topic (but in this case very briefly, leaving you to draw out the full implications yourself) and then quit. It would be easy to look at the generalization that men are more effective at violence, or that men tend to depend on violence rather than verbal facility, and decide that men are “more violent” than women and therefore men are generally bad people. (I remember years ago reading a list that some especially wounded feminists had drawn up of ten reasons lesbian couples should not use sperm donors to have children, and one of them was, “There is a fifty-fifty chance that the child will be a boy, and then, no matter what you do, the odds are overwhelming that he will grow up to rape and abuse women.”) It would also be easy to look at other statistics and conclude that women are actually more prone to violence than are men — they’re just not nearly as good at it. From this one could draw the conclusion that women are doubly inferior to men — they are morally inferior because they want to hurt people more than men do, but fortunately they are so incompetent that they don’t do nearly as much harm as they mean to.

I have up until now mostly taken the field against liberalism; here I will turn around to point out common fallacies in certain strains of conservative analysis. When it comes to domestic violence there are a couple of statistics that are dear to the hearts of certain conservative factions; but their apparent utility for conservatives in debate depends upon conservatives’ making the same male/female-instead-of-strong/weak category error. On the other hand, there is one aspect in which the male/female distinction is potentially relevant — but I haven’t seen it brought up.

You will hear some conservatives quote these statistics as fact. They are, I would imagine, vulnerable to challenge on statistical grounds; but because my intention is to show how these particular conservatives mishandle the statistics, I will for the purposes of this post pretend that the statistics are perfectly valid.

First, although men do more damage by physically abusing women than vice versa, it is commonly claimed that on a quantitative basis alone, the actual majority of cases of reported domestic abuse involve women attacking men.

Secondly, there is one kind of romantic relationship that very disproportionately results in violence. The rates at which heterosexual relationships result in domestic violence are very similar to the rates at which gay relationships result in domestic violence — but the rates at which lesbian relationships result in domestic violence are dramatically higher than either. A woman who decides to become a lesbian because she is afraid that a man would beat her, is at least at first glance pursuing a strategy that is, shall we say, contraindicated by the facts.

Taking these two together, it seems obvious that women actually resort to violence against their lovers much more readily than do men; and from this we draw the conclusion that women are actually more disposed to violence than men, but fortunately for society are not very good at it.

Take a moment to set aside the moral conclusion and ask yourself what is missing from this analysis, before you go on.

Done? OK. Here’s you a couple of examples; you may well have come up with other things I didn’t take the time to think of.

  1. Women may resort to violence against men, not because they are more naturally prone to violence, but simply because in a society that has norms by which men are punished more severely than women are for violence, the upside/downside ratio for resorting to violence is more favorable for women than for men. Since it is widely believed (I think quite correctly) by conservatives that the family courts are grotesquely stacked against men, you would expect conservatives to be arguing that women would be expected to resort to violence more freely because they can get away with it more easily. At any rate, there still are many husbands who were trained not to hit back at women, and if a woman knows herself to be married to such a husband she can take full advantage of the fact. In short, the conservative could be confusing opportunity with disposition.
  2. Women are different from men in a very significant respect that feminists have tried to render unmentionable: once a month, they get hormone-addled. Obviously the effect is stronger in some women than in others; but anger is first and foremost a physical state, and one of the undoubted effects of the hormonal changes that happen during a woman’s period is that they become much more irritable and prone to anger, through no moral failure of their own.

    Now, any man who has grown up with women (such as, for example, a mother) has learned from experience (and also, if he has decent male role models, from the guidance of his elders), that wives and girlfriends require lots of grace at certain times of the month. Thus, periodically, from a purely biological standpoint it becomes more likely that a woman will act out rage; and this doesn’t happen with men, who are likely not to respond in kind. That is not a point of moral superiority in the case of men — but it is likely to have some effect on the statistics. Do the conservatives who use those statistics suggest any way to quantify and control for the impact of this monthly effect?

  3. Furthermore, consider the fact that if two women are living in shared quarters, it is usually the case that their monthly cycles will come into synch with each other. Now think what this means about the difference between gay relationships, heterosexual relationships, and lesbian relationships. In the gay relationships, nobody ever has a period. In the heterosexual relationships, there is always one person who is not having a period, and usually that person has been socially conditioned to discount the other person’s behavior during That Time of the Month. (I suspect that this is just doubly infuriating to most women; but on the bright side it keeps lots of them from getting their butts kicked every four weeks or so.) But in most long-term live-in lesbian relationships, once a month there are two people having periods and nobody quite 100% sane. What do you think the chances are that the huge statistical discrepancy would shrink dramatically if you excluded instances of lesbian domestic violence where both partners were having their period?

I didn’t research any of that, of course, because my point was to show that if you proceed from the assumptions that “male/female” is the critical-path bucket set, and that inequity between the male bucket and the female bucket is a priori presumed to reveal some sort of moral failure or systemic injustice, then you can rationalize your way in to believing some pretty uncharitable things that do not even have the excuse of being true — such as that men are nastier people than women, or that women are more vicious than men.

But the twofold truth is that (a) men and women are systematically different in many ways (such as facility in violence, facility in verbal conflict, capacity to endure pain, personal impact of conception, personal impact of failure to conceive, reproductive utility of taking multiple partners simultaneously, etc.), because we are a sexually dimorphic species; but (b) there is no moral advantage on either side. The first rule of morality, for cultures as well as individuals, is Get Your Facts Straight. One of the facts of the human condition is that men are systematically stronger than women; in this respect the sexes simply are not equal. God help the women in a culture that does not teach the strong to protect, rather than exploit, the weak, or that imposes a social fiction that men and women are equally strong with respect to physical violence. God help the men, though to a lesser degree, in a culture that demands that the physically strong practice rigorous self-restraint while the malice and spleen of the verbally facile are given free rein. And God help everyone in a society that is insane enough to confuse the physical superiority of men over women with an utterly nonexistent moral superiority of women over men — or vice versa.

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