• Mon, Mar 14 2011

Domestic Violence Debate: It’s Not Wrong for Women to Hit Men

photo: Thinkstock

Usually I’m fiercely against double-standards, but I have to admit: I don’t think that a woman hitting a man is the same thing as a man hitting a woman. Don’t get me wrong: I’m anti-domestic violence (physical and emotional), or any violence for that matter, but I just don’t believe that if a woman hits a man, the ramifications are the same as when the reverse happens.

Now, I’m not talking about slugging your boyfriend or husband with a brass-knuckled left hook. Or smashing him over the head with a portrait painting. Or bludgeoning him with a blunt object. Obviously these acts are wrong, violent, and possibly a felony. I don’t mean pulling a Lorena Bobbitt or a Phil Hartman’s wife or a Francine Hughes in The Burning Bed (although the latter was found not guilty by a jury of her peers). I’m not talking about drawing blood, using lethal weapons, or murder. I’m talking more about smacks and slaps to the upper-body region when a gentlemen is behaving badly: Shoulders, chest, that kind of thing.

Why do I feel this way? Domestic violence is a very serious issue and I’m not making light of it. But let’s face it: It’s pretty hard for most women to physically hurt a man. As many men will take pride in telling you, men are physically stronger than women. Yes, yes – I know that some women are stronger than some men, but I’m talking about general biological and physiological truths, not exceptions to the rule. (According to the National Organization for Women, almost five million women are physically abused by their partners every year, and many more of those incidents go unreported.) So, with that seemingly sexist viewpoint in mind, it’s not fair or right for men to hit women, because they’ll likely cause the women real physical (not to mention emotional) harm. Most civilized societies and laws agree with this stance.

We see the kind of thing I’m talking about on TV and in movies all the time: A frustrated girlfriend/wife smacks her boyfriend/husband across the shoulder because he stayed out too late/got drunk with his friends/didn’t do the yard work he promised/forgot their anniversary. These scenarios are supposed to be funny. Why? Because we know that the woman isn’t actually causing the man any real physical harm. But if we saw the reverse situation, we’d be outraged, and rightly so, because it takes far less effort for a man to physically injure a woman. That’s why we call these guys bullies, and (hopefully) press charges against them. But if you were to slap your boyfriend/husband on the chest after he stayed out all night at a friend’s bachelor party, would he call the cops and file an order of protection against you? Unlikely. Because he knows this isn’t domestic violence the way a man can perpetrate it against a woman. He knows you didn’t really hurt him, that you couldn’t really hurt him (at least not with your bare hands). Do your smacks and slaps annoy and irritate him? Almost certainly. But he won’t smack or slap you back, even if it’s just on your upper body, because he knows that would be considered domestic violence. And if he does in fact retaliate, you should call the cops.

Should women get a free pass when it comes to acting out and inflicting emotional hurt, if not physical harm? No, they should not. (Except in situations of self-defense. See the Jennifer Lopez movie Enough as an example.) Do women need to control and deal with their anger and rage issues just as men should? Of course. Should women strive to inflict physical and emotional harm on their partners? Of course not. Do some women actually and repeatedly physically abuse their male partners using whatever weapons they have at their disposal? Undoubtedly. Is this whole concept of “it’s-not-wrong-for-women-to-hit-men” a dangerous double-standard? Possibly, but I think it’s a double-standard that’s based in the reality of life’s inequalities. I’ll never advocate ever hitting anyone, or letting rage go untreated, but slapping your fellow across the upper body simply isn’t the same thing as sending your lady to the hospital after shoving her around. Is it advisable for women to hit men? No, it’s not. But it’s not necessarily domestic violence, either.

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  • Bryan

    What a load of garbage! I hate when women preach for equality and then use a double standard like this. Yes- women can physically hurt men; and yes, they can emotionally hurt men, too. We have feelings, afterall. At the very least, hitting a man may provoke a instinctual response to fight back. No, maybe he wouldn’t hit you normally, but if you hit him first, he may react without thinking. This article should be taken down before someone ends up getting hurt.

  • goinglikesixty

    Wait. Whuck? OK, how about this… young woman slaps old man. Big woman punches little man. Teen girl slugs younger brother.
    Why can’t we just not hit?
    Oh, OK, this whole post was just traffic bait… here: “but slapping your fellow across the upper body simply isn’t the same thing as sending your lady to the hospital after shoving her around. ” Well, duh.

  • Alexandra

    It is the same thing. Violence self-propagates, and it’s wrong regardless of level of injury/ who-hit-whom. Grow up, Valerie.

  • GoneWithTheWind

    OK. I get it. What you mean is it is fine if the man hitrs the woman ligthly, right? Your arguement is that it is OK for the woman to hit a man because she has less strength therefore her punch or slap is light enough the man should just grin and bear it. So eqaulity demands that men can hit a woman lightly. A slap, a punch or a push that doesn’t break anything maybe a kick or two. Do I have that right???

  • KDEB

    Unless it’s between consenting adults in some sort of sport situation, people shouldn’t hit people. Period. V. Curnow, you are an embarrassment to all people who have fought for equality—and to women in general. Shame on you.

  • Mary Beth

    I can’t stand women who maintain that it’s ok to hit a man, but not the other way around. They are usually selfish women. If you hit a man, dont be surprised when his first reaction is to strike back or physically “protect” himself in some way. Human instinct.

  • Alex

    What a load of bunk. I’m so glad to see the comment section like it is. Physical abuse is physical abuse, no if ands or buts. And the resulting emotional damage inflicted? It doesn’t matter how much that “slap on the upper body” actually hurt. If my girlfriend tried any of this bullshit, I’ll call the cops on her ass. Luckily, I’m not dating anyone as ridiculous as Valerie here.

  • Jay

    Hmm I know what you mean by the whole hitting a guy lightly, but the fact that it is done out of frustration, even though it didn’t cause physical harm, could really offend the victim and cause them to retaliate. Personally, I hate people hitting me lightly, even if they are my friends, keep your hands to yourself people. Geez.

  • John

    I am a former professional wrestler, and I am certainly far stronger than my ex-wife. That does not mean that it didn’t hurt when she hit me with her feminine bare hands. As a matter of fact, as difficult as it may be for the author of the above article to believe, I ended up having a partial vision impairment in my left eye due to a blow to the head that she gave me with her bare hand. The above article makes me sick! Nice to know that what she did wasn’t really domestic violence.

  • Andrew Richards

    As a battered man, I find your article to be as vile, repugnant and sexist as a female rape survivor would if it were an article from a radical Islamic cleric claiming that women being raped is mainly attributed to how they dress.

    Let me tell you that the fear of making even the slightest wrong move is there just as much as a man as it is for a battered woman, along with all the covering and lying because you’re sure you wont be believed or you’ll be blamed for it. The sad part is that in many cases, we are- we have to deal with articles like this which are the battered man’s equivalent of the vile “knowing her place” stereotype which used to be around alot with battered women.

    Even almost 3 years after I finally worked up the courage to leave; the scars still haunt me, and they probably always will- but then being utterly destroyed in almost every way will tend to do that to you.

    Furthermore, fists are completely irrelevant when you consider the number of weapons involved when it’s women attacking men. But hey, I guess you probably think that a man could hurt a woman with a kitchen knife far more than a woman could hurt a man with one – even though the pressure required to stab someone is negligible.

    Maybe next time you get an idea for an article, you might want to engage your brain and your decency before “putting pen to paper”.

  • Eileen

    What you provided is a nice explanation of why it’s socially acceptable for women to hit men. That doesn’t make it right.

  • Dani

    Violence isnt acceptable, in any circumstance. A child cant hurt their parents as much as the parents could hurt their child, so does this make it ok for a child to strike their parent? Of course not. This kind of garbage is irresponsible at best. How dare you minimalise the trauma experienced by men who have been abused by women. Disgusted.

  • John C. Randolph

    Valerie, you are not merely wrong, you are dangerously, irresponsibly, and idiotically wrong. HItting anyone is a habit that should be left behind in elementary school, and if you ever take a swing at anyone yourself, I hope you end up behind bars to think about it for a couple of years.

  • Robert in SF

    I came here based on the Facebook link, intending to quote from my equal rights’ collection of notes about doemstic violence, and the skewed logic used to justify woman-on-man violence (no matter how many caveats you put in, that’s what you are talking about)…and the comments sections says it all!

    Glad to hear that at least there vocal persons out there who see your perspective as dangerous (to the man!) and irresponsible….

    Now, the truth be told, I am sure there are a ton of people (women, and enabling men) who do believe what your have stated here, and that’s what makes me sad.

    If there are people out there who do believe this exception is fine, please comment as well, so that we see both sides represented.

  • Just Another Barbarian

    Sheesh. What twaddle, Valerie. Sure, murder is worse than maiming someone but should the standard for domestic violence be that an injury wasn’t inflicted? What (and who) defines injury – a red mark, a bruise, broken skin, broken bone?

    The standard in most communities is if you hit someone hard enough to leave a mark, it’s domestic violence and the hitter goes to jail. That rule is there to protect both partners – the weaker and the stronger – from a typically escalating violent situation. Remember, big strong guys like me sometimes operate with a pretty simple coda: if you hit me, I get to hit you hard enough to make sure you never hit me again. If the state isn’t going to protect me from weaklings like you, there should be no complaint if I protect myself.

    If ever there was someone who needed to be bitch slapped to knock some sense into your fool head, it might be you, Valerie. Gently, and by a girlfriend, perhaps, but there you have it.

  • blah blah

    And it is OK for the man to respond to the light hit from the woman by raising his voice and calling her the most vile names imaginable – in front of other people.

  • John Boy

    One of the dirty little secrets about domestic violence is that lesbian couples are more likely to engage in it than hetrosexual couples, not that anyone at NOW will ever admit it. It is not ok to hit kids either.

  • zen0

    If Curnow believes that “smacks and slaps” are acceptable when an adult is behaving badly so long as no serious physical damage is delivered, then clearly she should have no problem whatsoever endorsing men administering spankings to adult women. After all, a spanking doesn’t have the same ramifications as a punch to the jaw. What Curnow is arguing, although she clearly doesn’t realize it, is that it’s okay for a man to strike a woman so long as he doesn’t do her any actually injury. – Vox Day

  • Days of Broken Arrows

    What this intellectually vapid editorial doesn’t take into account is that acts of violence tend to escalate. So even though the writer doesn’t “equate” a punch here and there by a woman with serious violence, these acts are EXACTLY what lead up to a women doing things like throwing bigger objects or scalding food at a man (it happened to singer Al Green).

    Also, all people have emotional trigger responses. Few of us like to get hit. So when a woman hauls off and hits a man, even though it might not injure him, the resentment builds up and sets the stage for more serious problems — like men feeling “shamed” and not communicating.

    Finally, a lot of men grew up learning to defend themselves the hard way in the schoolyard. They often hit back instinctively — so if you hit a man it may trigger a response.

    Finally, people who hit tend to be hitters regardless of the situation, so if you marry a woman like this, don’t be surprised if she beats the crap out of the kids. Hey, it’s not “domestic violence” then either, so I guess it’s OK.

  • Diogenes

    This type of thinking is probably why women have surpassed men in being perpetrators of domestic violence:

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Women are more likely than men to stalk, attack and psychologically abuse their partners, according to a University of Florida study that finds college women have a new view of the dating scene.

    “We’re seeing women in relationships acting differently nowadays than we have in the past,” said Angela Gover, a UF criminologist who led the research. “The nature of criminality has been changing for females, and this change is reflected in intimate relationships as well.”
    http://news.ufl.edu/2006/07/13/women-attackers/

  • j

    What would be better is if weak, emotional women such as Valerie learned to express themselves in non-violent means.

    Violence of any sort is usually the response of a frustrated, angry person who lashes out. Certainly not the action of an intellectual adult.

  • T. Parker

    This is the most disgusting double-standard I’ve ever heard of. Violence is violence… and violence tends to escalate. What starts as a slap will progress to something far nastier over time.

  • Pounders

    How is this not sexist bigotry?

    • Demosthenes XXI

      It is, Pounders…it is very much sexist bigotry.

  • doc

    ok girl, go ahead and punch me, if you catch me off gaurd or perhaps in the wrong frame of mind my response to you, or anyone male or female for that matter, will be to inflict enough damage quickly enough to allow me to disengage and evaluate the need for further violence or escape, by then of course you will need a doctor.

  • Robert in SF

    Wasn’t there an entire “Friends” episode with this? Joey was dating a much smaller woman (Soleil Moon Frye?) who was very physical with him, in “friendly” ways, such as punching him in the arm or the leg….just when she was joking with him, not as punishment for something.

    And he was really thrown because it actually hurts to get hit!

    It seems to me that a woman hitting a man for emotional hurt (a slap across the face for a snide, rude, or hurtful comment; a kick in the balls for a sexual comment) is almost stereotypical for TV/movies, and perhaps in real life…

    I have only seen youtube videos of guys getting beat up or slapped harshly by a gal, but not in real life.

    I wonder how pervasive this level of abuse is, and how we can get men to recognize that it’s not acceptable…

  • rand one

    Valerie, you are a bad person and you should be ashamed of yourself. Despite this, I would never wish domestic violence on you or any other human being. Physically damaging or otherwise.

  • Nicola Carelse

    Be ashamed.

    It’s exactly the same. In my case the abuser lashed out when I stated a home truth – she had screwed some other guy and I felt her behaviour intolerable. No violence or even a raised voice on my side.

    She had no defense so she used her hand.

    It’s the same thing – violence to silence the opinions of another.

  • br3n7

    one word “bullshit”

  • br3n7

    Domestic violence, any violence, is NOT ok regardless of sex, race or whatever wrapper you might want to give it. Weak or strong, black or white, pink or purple.

    Perhaps you are trying to justify some form of mental illness, like borderline personality disorder? a ration of 3:1 of women to men?

    Statistics of domestic violence against men is estimated to be about 40%. The next largest group following violence against women (with race, cultural or other hate CRIMES a very distant third) yet largely unrecognized & unreported.

  • Tom

    So all long as i dont cause too much damage i can hit a women…because you whole view is that as long as its not hurting or drawing blood or leaving huge marks its ok…well you know what…..i can hit soft enough to make a woman cry and not hurt her…it that ok with you.

  • Joe

    Please don’t equate ethics with risk. The fact that a man *could* do more damage doesn’t mean he will, or is likely to. Your examples of a light slap on the shoulder or chest drive home the point – a man who causes appreciable damage with a light slap on the shoulder is either an athlete of a degree that they should know their strength, or significantly unstable.
    To say that equal force is acceptable for women but not men because men *could* have mustered greater damage isn’t a reasonable argument, and inviting people to call the police when their actions are reciprocated doesn’t improve the world.

  • tiny tim

    No woman has the right to slap me and if she did slap me I would call the cops on her.

  • frb in PA

    Thank you Valerie! Yes, thank you for revealing with great clarity what many of us have suspected for a long time about Feminism: it ISN’T about “equality,” it is about some warped sense of REVENGE, coupled with a uniquely female sense of entitlement/privilege.

  • Tom

    I will use this analogy: If you are shooting at me with a .22 caliber pistol, and I have a .357 magnum, then I should walk away and not shoot at you? Your bullet may not kill me, but my bullit is much more likely to kill you.

    Another point: If it is OK for women to hit men because they are generally weaker, then it should be OK for a weaker man to hit a much stronger man.

    One more: if a woman is larger and stronger than me and she has a blackbelt in martial arts, I still can’t hit her if she hits me?

    With the way women have seized power, become aggressive, and hide behind laws to perpetuate their agenda, which has degraded to this article to the rediculous logic it espouses—believe me, and I will make this very clear to you and to her. If you hit me in anger, I will hit you back–very hard. I do not care if your puch did not cause significant physical damage. It is the principle, and it is my right not to tolerate someone who hits me–man or woman. Once you lay your hands on me, all bets are off.

  • joseph r hanna

    you sound dum ass fuck its wroung 4 anyone to hit anyone it only take 3pounds of presure to nock out some one and a women or wemon is more than 3pounds so guess what ??? they can nock you out and when your sleep you cant defend your self sooo i so sick of pepole saying that a womens hits cant realy hurt you and you should walk away… i do no that thats why these wemon think its ok to hit these men as soon as they get mad or angrey they get to swinging and shit im sorry but pepole need to understand that i dont hit u and you dont hit me its wroung period…… senserlly joseph r hanna sorry for the langage this is a touchy subjet.

  • you’re stupid

    Give me a break, you’re defending women hitting men? Your dumb ass needs slapped. Wouldn’t that be funny?

  • Not a Sexist

    This article is very SEXIST. Women have either achieved equality or not. In fact it makes me want to punch an innocent teen girl as hard as I can.

  • Double Standards

    There is no excuse for a male or female to put their hands on either party (outside of justified self-defence) period. It is certainly not acceptable for women to slap or smack a man period. Any women doing so should be arrested for domestic violence and prosecuted under the current laws until common sense prevails over political correctness. Pointing to TV and movies as a method of justifying female physical violence goes to show that the feminist agenda has moved beyond equality and into the realms of sexism and gender discrimination.

  • anonymous

    “Pointing to TV and movies as a method of justifying female physical violence goes to show that the feminist agenda has moved beyond equality and into the realms of sexism and gender discrimination.” – And rightfully so. After women lived under a patriarchal society that degraded and still objectifies them, I now don’t care that men are also being objectified and facing the same things that women did. I dont think men and women shpuld ever hit, cheat on, or abuse each other in any way coz it is always wrong! But in terms of feminism I support the notion that women still need to stand united and fight for their rights in all areas of work and life. Don’t blame feminism, its a supportive movement not a program endorsing violence.

  • joe

    Your an idiot! See what you say when a woman slaps you and also slaps your ear and causes you hearing damage!

  • El Tone

    I despise violence from human to human, or indeed, from humans to animals et al.
    If a woman hits a man (even playfully) knowing that he will not retaliate, she knows (perhaps) at a sub-conscious level, that this is humiliating him, essentially using a weapon he cannot bring to the table; this makes her not only a coward but also a b*tch of the lowest order.

    This will always mean that ANY woman hitting a man (except in self-defence) is ADMITTING they’re weaker, cowardly and without equal respect for men (the latter being the very thing women DEMAND of men!)

    I have had women hit me in the past, most of the time I would laugh rather smugly in their face (to “help” them realize that they are in fact WEAK for using violence!)

    So, to summarise, when a woman hits a man, by knowing he can’t/ won’t hit her back (a) She’s admitting that she’s weaker (self-deprecating sexism)
    (b) She’s OK with using violence to solve her immediate issues (the very same violence that all of the “scumbag” men apparently use to get ahead in life)
    (c) She’s forcibly demonstrating by example, that you do NOT have the same rights as She does (yet seems to whine on and on about “equality” and how women don’t have it!)

    Laughable… if it was at all funny?

  • Dave Love

    So if I don’t hit her very hard then I guess it’s ok. Good to know.

  • Phenix Rising

    bitches, ALL-WAYS a double standard… a gal hit me AGAIN and I’m knocking her teeth out. END OF DISCUSSION.

    “ladies” either get control of yourselves.. or the courts will.