One of the most misunderstood pieces Paul Elam has ever written at A Voice for Men, the most prominent website in the men’s rights movement, is called If You See Jezebel in the Road, Run the Bitch Down. The Jezebel he is referring to is the website, owned by Gawker Media called Jezebel: Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women, Without Airbrushing. In response to an article published in Psychiatry News, which explored men as overlooked victims of domestic violence, Jezebel commenters and editors contributed stories of violently assaulting their partners, often with a disturbing sense of glee and remorseless.
Writer Tracie Egan Morrisey “decided to conduct an informal survey of the Jezebels to see who’s gotten violent with their men. After reviewing the answers, let’s just say that it’d be wise to never ever fuck with us”. She goes on to say that one of the editors at Jezebel “went nuts on her guy and began violently shoving him”, a different editor “heard her boyfriend flirting on the phone with another girl, so she slapped the phone out of his hands and hit him in the face and neck… “partially open handed.”
Mysteriously, another editor “slapped a guy when ‘he told me he thought he had breast cancer.” Personally, I cannot fathom why you would slap someone for thinking they might have cancer, or perhaps Jezebel editors do not realize men can also get breast cancer? At any rate, the editors collectively declared “Okay, that one made us laugh really hard.” And finally, “one Jez punched a steady in the face and broke his glasses. He had discovered a sex story she was writing about another dude on her laptop, so he picked it up and threw it. And that’s when she socked him. He was, uh, totally asking for it”.
If you think that’s depressing, and I hope you do, the commenters won’t make you feel any better. I will leave it to interested parties to go and scroll through the comments themselves and note the date stamp. The oldest comments are the ones that recall with sadistic delight the pleasures of hurting another human being, sometimes in really awful ways.
Let’s address the most common argument for why it’s okay for women to slap, hit, punch, kick or otherwise hurt a man, but never okay for a man to hurt a woman in any way. It goes something like this: men on average are bigger and stronger than women, and strong people shouldn’t hit weak people so that makes it okay. The first thing that always pops into my mind with this argument is are you crazy why would you hit some clearly bigger and stronger than you?!?, but the answer to that question is actually very revealing. Women implicitly trust men not to hit them back. They rely on the profound decency of most men. They count on the kindness of an average man. Even devout feminists, like the editors at Jezebel, who have called masculinity “toxic”, who have called men “emotionless dickbots” and “scum” and “assholes” and much worse feel free to violently attack men because they know most men are decent and kind and will not hit them back.
The truth about domestic violence is that it is roughly mutual – men and women hit each other at about the same rates. What is also true is that men really are bigger and stronger and if they decide to hit back, women tend to get the shitty end of the stick. None of this means that women can’t physically hurt men. A kick in the balls is not excruciating pain? A slap across the face hard enough to knock his glasses off is not also painful? Being kicked or punched or slapped or bitten somehow hurts less just because the victim is a man and the attacker is a woman? Nonsense. Women can and do hurt men, but when they run into a man who hasn’t quite bought into the whole “never hit a girl” narrative, who defends himself vigorously against physical attack – she will likely come out the most seriously injured party.
What Paul Elam did in his article was engage in satire – he flipped the genders to highlight just how awful it is to hurt another person, and dramatically highlighted our double standards when it comes to who got hurt. I have often used this particular technique myself because it is just so effective. For example, I once wrote about a man who broke a beer glass across his aspiring model girlfriend’s face, driving the glass shards in deep enough to sever an artery and leave permanent nerve damage not to mention some nasty scars. On her face. He walked free from court, because they just didn’t think severed arteries and nerve damage and a ruined career was serious enough. Of course, it was not a man who did this to a woman, but rather a woman who did it to a man. And yes, she really did walk free after slicing his face down to the bone.
While it is absolutely true that women suffer most serious injuries from domestic violence, simply because they are going up against opponents who are generally bigger and stronger than they are, this is no way negates the very real physical pain that women can and do inflict on men. Relying on the goodness of men to not fight back is a coward’s strategy, if you ask me. Domestic violence is generally, but not always, a story about two combatants throwing punches with equal ease. To condemn the men, but not the women is an example of what we call “misandry” in the men’s rights movement. It is a real, measurable, verifiable discrimination that men face for no reason other than being men.
So the next time that someone says “men are not discriminated against”, or “men are not oppressed,” consider the staff at Jezebel. There are 3 editors, 5 staff writers, and 2 editorial assistants. Of those 10 women, 4 admit to violently attacking their male partners. 40% of Jezebel’s senior staff team admits to being domestic abusers, but since their victims were men it doesn’t count? If 40% of Gawker staff admitted to beating women, what would the response from the general public be?
Actually, not hard to answer. It would be the same amount of hate and scorn and wrath that Paul Elam received when he wrote his piece pointing to the violence of women. Violence against women is never a joke. Even when it is. And violence against men?
Well we have to admit, that one made us laugh.