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92 Responses

  1. Jennifer
    Jennifer June 5, 2013 at 10:08 am |

    This needs a trigger warning

    1. Laura C
      Laura C June 5, 2013 at 11:05 am |

      You don’t think a title with “male violence” in it is in effect a trigger warning?

      1. Caperton
        Caperton June 5, 2013 at 11:10 am | *

        There’s a difference between a discussion of violence and a graphic description of violence.

    2. Caperton
      Caperton June 5, 2013 at 11:08 am | *

      A warning has been added. Thanks for bringing that to our attention.

  2. Ms Misantropia
    Ms Misantropia June 5, 2013 at 10:52 am |

    This is a very important piece. Thank you for sharing.

  3. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 12:29 pm |

    Thank you for sharing; this was a thoughtful and incisive post. And that was some amazing writing.

  4. Wordwizard
    Wordwizard June 5, 2013 at 12:37 pm |

    I’m glad you acted. Perhaps the most effective thing (in addition to what you did) might (I put forth tentatively) have been to exhort the crowd to group action. “Why is everyone just sitting there letting this happen? Do you approve? Come join us in stopping it!” There is definitely something wrong with that acceptance. It needs to change. If you had had many join you in your action, that would have made it more difficult to send you packing without stopping the man. It’s always hard to know what to do when you’re suddenly thrust in a situation. Now it’s over, trying to change the institutional response of the security guard for the NEXT time by complaining to the owner of the bar, boycotting the establishment, writing to the newspapers…

  5. speedbudget
    speedbudget June 5, 2013 at 1:16 pm |

    What a horrible thing for that woman. I am no mind reader, but I would guess that the beater in the story calculated and acted upon the calculation that beating her in public would bring no trouble to him as a lesson to her.

    I just can’t imagine the helplessness and the absolute loneliness in being in that woman’s shoes. And the crowd, except for the three who tried, are complicit in the violence being done to her. They explicitly allowed and condoned it and told her through actions that she doesn’t count.

    I hope she gathers the strength and the support to get out.

  6. Aaliyah
    Aaliyah June 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm |

    Thank you for this piece. It’s very powerful.

    [TW: abuse]

    I am reminded of a similar experience. One day I was waiting at a train station and saw a couple approach the ticket machine. The man was very angry at her because she wanted to pay with cash instead of her (or his) credit card. So he said “I told you to use the fucking card you fucking dumbass! Do it or else!” And every time she tried to explain something he just silenced her with “Shut up” over and over again. I could tell she was very frightened. She eventually complied with wishes, and then when the train came he ripped her purse out of her hands. I never saw them again.

    I really wish I did something. At the time I didn’t do anything because I was afraid of her suffering as a result of my intervention; I thought that maybe he would be more aggressive towards her if I called him out for being an asshole or told her that she doesn’t deserve that treatment. And I was also scared of him following me all the way to school (my destination) because he was not only aggressive, but also very invasive; he acted as though he didn’t respect his partner’s boundaries at all.

    The whole situation reminded me of my childhood. My father was abusive to my mother in nearly all ways imaginable, but I didn’t do anything because I thought I’d only provoke him to harm her more.

    I’ll do my best to ensure that I never idly stand by and watch abuse ever again. I’m normally a very passive and fearful person, but I can’t hold myself back forever. At the very least, I’ll speak out.

    1. karak
      karak June 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm |

      I used to work at McDonalds, and one late night two people came through the drive-thru, a man and a woman. The woman ordered a burger and the man angrily said, “you want a salad.” Now, when there’s a conflict like that, I wait until the people in the car resolve it, and the woman said into the speaker very clearly, “No, I want my burger.” So I rang that up, told them the price, and waited at the window.

      They took a long time to get there. When they pulled up, the woman, who was driving, was clearly crying with big tear streaks down her face and was unable to stop crying, so the man leaned across and said, “She wants the salad.”

      I looked at her. “Do you want the salad?” She nodded. “Are you all right?” I asked, and I inflected it so she should would know I knew something was not fucking right and if she was able to ask for help I’d give it. I had my cellphone in my pocket and I’d call 911. She shook her head, and the guy yelled, “SHE’S FINE AND SHE WANTED THE SALAD!!!”

      I didn’t know what to do. If this was an abusive situation, I didn’t want to make it worse by pressing her. I gave her the salad.

      I think about that woman a lot. I hope she eats whatever the fuck she wants.

      1. Aaliyah
        Aaliyah June 6, 2013 at 1:21 am |

        What an asshole. I hope she gets to eat whatever she wants, too. I’ve seen my brother being body-policed and fat-shamed by my father, and it’s horrible.

    2. (BFing)Sarah
      (BFing)Sarah June 6, 2013 at 11:27 am |

      This reminds me of an experience I had as well. Some friends and I were visiting Charleston, SC for the weekend and, as we were driving down a main drag and sitting at a light we looked over and saw a woman, on her knees, and a large man grabbed her by the hair and punched her repeatedly in the face. I screamed and said, “Call the police!” and my friend (the driver) drove when the light turned green. One of the three (guys) in the car tried to open the door before we drove off and he was saying “Go back! We have to do something! Go back!! STOP!! Please! ” He and I were trying to extort the driver to go back and for us to call the police (I had no cellphone at the time) and he and the other dude in the car were just like, “No, its not our business what happens–he looks dangerous, I don’t want to mess with that. We can’t pull over here. Etc..” I always felt terrible about that, that we didn’t go back and honk or pull over and call the cops once we were in another area. I will never forget how helpless I felt as the only woman in the car when, out of three guys, only ONE was screaming and yelling that we needed to do SOMEthing.

      1. Hrovitnir
        Hrovitnir June 7, 2013 at 12:03 am |

        :( I’m glad ONE of the guys cared. It’s not fair, because not everyone’s physically capable, but I’m always proud that my (male) partner has jumped in to stop multiple people beating the shit out of someone (I wasn’t there).

        Calling the fucking cops would have been nice though, from the guys you were with. :(

  7. Lime
    Lime June 5, 2013 at 1:34 pm |

    Please believe that I don’t miss the point of your article, and it is tragic that women are in many places treated as subhumans. Particularly on the world scale, there are a number of countries which are mind-numbingly backwards. But I find it frustrating that an article focused on “male brutality” and which tries to gender violence (not even sexual violence, but all-around violence) completely ignores the fact that statistically, most violent incidents occur by men to other men. It’s not like women are the only victims of an increasingly violent society, and while it’s easy to paint men as only perpetrators of violence, we’re also victims of it.

    1. Barnacle Strumpet
      Barnacle Strumpet June 5, 2013 at 1:47 pm |

      There IS a point to it though. Security might have broken up a fight or assault between two males. What OP witnissed was the idea that what happens between a heterosexual couple is a private matter that bystanders should avert their eyes from, and specifically in this case, that guests to a country don’t have the right to interfere in such a thing.

      Violence between two males and between a man and a woman he’s involved with are treated differently.

      The OP said this:

      Instead of merely violence against women, we should invert our focus to the active form; violence committed by men. No matter the victim, child, male, or female, we find that men author most violent acts.

      Which shows to me that OP isn’t focused only on helping female victims.

      1. Kristen from MA
        Kristen from MA June 5, 2013 at 2:23 pm |

        Even on a post like this one, someone has to ask ‘But, what about the men?’

        1. Angie unduplicated
          Angie unduplicated June 6, 2013 at 10:10 am |

          Their bogus and lazyassed security would have broken up a fight between two women, two children, or two stray dogs.
          I’d bet the meager paycheck that security would have interfered forcefully, had she retaliated with greater force.
          This was cross-posted from or to Feministing if you need the author’s name for attribution of quotes, especially the closing sentence.

      2. A4
        A4 June 5, 2013 at 3:10 pm |

        Once I got on a train in Boston with my headphones on and went to an empty area at one end of the car and sat down, unaware, in the middle of an altercation between two strangers. One was a man who appeared intoxicated and was yelling threats and obscenities aat another who was sitting by himself in the corner not responding at all. The threats were extreme threats of violence, and the man looked capable of carrying them out. I didn’t feel as though it would help anyone to enter the altercation, so I just sat next to the man being berated and glared at the one yelling threats.

        Everyone else on the train was completely ignoring what was happening. That’s why the area of seats had been empty.

        I asked the guy next to me what had triggered this, and he said that there had been a women on the train who the other man had been harassing, and so the guy next to me had told him to stop. She had already gotten off the train and now he was left to have his life and body threatened in some really extreme ways.

        I got off the train a stop before the guy being threatened and told the conductor about the threats and recommended that the police be called to meet them at the next station. I do not know what happened after that.

        1. Anna in PDX
          Anna in PDX June 5, 2013 at 4:43 pm |

          Good for you. I do not know how I would act in such a situation. I’d probably be pretty cowardly, because I’d fear for my own safety.

        2. A4
          A4 June 5, 2013 at 5:08 pm |

          I cannot abide bystanders. I really really really judge them harshly because my whole life was about being singled out and all the people who were supposedly my allies and loved ones kinda just were like “Well you seem to be handling it soooo…. I’ll just be over here… not giving a shit”

          I think if I was the victim of violence on the street there would be a lot of people videotaping my on their phone, but nobody who would even be willing to say “This is not okay! This needs to stop! Stop doing that!” to the people attacking me.

      3. Victoria
        Victoria June 5, 2013 at 3:27 pm |

        There is a feminist legal scholar, I can’t remember her name, who argued that maybe we would be better served treating domestic violence the same way we treat other forms of violence, because then it would at least be taken seriously. I don’t know that this is actually the best approach, but I can see how that argument makes sense considering that violence within a relationship is treated as a private matter and often not addressed.

      4. William
        William June 5, 2013 at 6:26 pm |

        There IS a point to it though. Security might have broken up a fight or assault between two males. What OP witnissed was the idea that what happens between a heterosexual couple is a private matter that bystanders should avert their eyes from, and specifically in this case, that guests to a country don’t have the right to interfere in such a thing.

        Its more than that, though. Violence between two males could well spread, their friends could show up and turn a fist fight into a brawl, one of them might pull a knife. Theres a very good chance they’ll just beat the hell out of each other until one of them can’t stand and then an ambulance will need to be called and management will be asked questions about how much people were served. When two men fight, its an issue which has a significant potential negative consequence for bystanders.

        When its a man beating a women, the narrative doesn’t make anyone around have to give a shit. Security doesn’t have to worry about two become twelve. Management doesn’t have to worry about having to call an ambulance, when its over they’ll leave, probably together, and everyone can go back to whatever they were doing before. The fact that the dynamic is so clearly that of aggressor and victim means that its unlikely to actually effect anyone not involved. It gives bystanders the luxury of being uninvolved because they have no real fear of being drawn in.

        Stepping in in a situation like that makes the bystanders see you as an escalation. Worse, you might make them feel bad about themselves. You’re an unwanted element, something that might prolong their discomfort.

    2. sheriji
      sheriji June 5, 2013 at 1:56 pm |

      “He beat her, but she has not been beaten.”

      Maybe, maybe not. But the “silence of [the] friends” speaks volumes, and putting this in pretty words so as to make oneself feel better doesn’t belie the fact that the beating was not stopped, by you nor probably by anyone — until the man tired of punching her in the face maybe.

      First they came for . . .

      As for male-on-male violence, it may be statistically true, but at least that’s a bit more of a fair fight. I like to come in to the room when my husband isn’t looking and try to knock him down on the bed so I can sit on him and say “Pinned ya'” like Nala in Lion King. I can’t usually even move him an inch unless I completely catch him by surprise. This only doesn’t scare me because I know he loves me completely and would never raise a hand to me. Otherwise I wouldn’t stand a chance.

      In any situation where someone has “power” over someone else, our trust in their empathy and decency is really the only thing worth anything. Knowing that the world can stand by and watch this happen cannot have made that woman in the car feel any better. We’re all afraid. But should we be more afraid of what that man in the car might do to us if we try to stop him, or of looking ourselves in the mirror if we don’t?

      1. A4
        A4 June 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm |

        As for male-on-male violence, it may be statistically true, but at least that’s a bit more of a fair fight.

        This is such a ridiculous generalization. There are many many situations in which male-on-male violence is in no way a fair fight. There can be multiple assailants, one can be much bigger than the other, one can have much more physical training than the other.

        If a two big dudes don’t like seeing me hold hands with my boyfriend and they beat the shit out of us, it will be little comfort for me to think about how on average, this demographic matchup is more fair than if I were female-bodied.

        1. karak
          karak June 5, 2013 at 3:55 pm |

          I do have to point out homophobic violence is rarely what’s being talked about in the case of “fair fight” male-on-male violence; that’s usually referring to violence between acquaintances or peers fueled by personal conflict. More rarely, it’s moments like bar fights, where both combatants are alert and planning to fight.

    3. Alara Rogers
      Alara Rogers June 5, 2013 at 2:10 pm |

      This is absolutely true, but there are difficulties dealing with male on male violence.

      Male on female violence is very easy to talk about as a unilaterally Bad Thing because it has a defined perpetrator and a defined victim. (Situations that don’t fit those parameters tend not to get talked about.) Male on male violence, well… do we know who started it? Was it self defense? It’s hard for us to say who was the actual perpetrator of the violence if the violence was mutual, or if both of the people in the act of violence belonged to the same “class.” Class-based analysis, the foundation of most liberal analysis of injustice, doesn’t work when both are in the same class. We can understand white male violence against black males, we can understand straight male violence against gay males, we can even understand socially-dominant male violence against socially-subdominant males (ie, jocks vs nerds), but how do we understand two straight white cis males of the same “class” in a violent alteraction? Is it mutual? Is one the victim of the other?

      At that point you need to analyze it at the level of the individual perpetrators. And the statistics have a hard time with that. It’s very, very hard for us to understand or analyze the dynamics of male-on-male violence in a class-analysis structure, and no one has formulated an analysis structure that is humane, workable, actually helps with understanding, and doesn’t involve class analysis. The individualistic analysis, which we used to rely on before the invention of class analysis, says that the perpetrator attacked the victim because the perpetrator is bad; or the perpetrator attacked the victim because the victim is bad. Neither is useful.

      We also need a form of analysis that can, in fact, include the contributory factors of the victim’s behavior without victim blaming. Right now, we are forced to reject all contributory factors from the victim in our class analyses of violence because they all lead to victim blaming, because we’re always analyzing a group that’s given a free pass to commit violence against a group that’s socially less dominant, less free to do as they like and have society make excuses for it. There can be no excuse for hauling off and punching your wife a dozen times in public, because if there ever were such an excuse, wife beating in public would become de facto acceptable because the excuses would always be made. (And in fact this is what happens.) But in violence between two members of the same class, it actually *is* possible that the victim started the violence and then just ended up being worse affected by it. But how do you allow for “he started it” and still condemn “but he finished it?” Zero tolerance policies run into this shit all the time, where the victim of repeated bullying assaults that don’t cross the line into overt violence lashes out in self defense, commits violence, and is then punished for it because they crossed a line one time, whereas the ten zillion times their tormentor attacked them, he was always careful never to cross the line that society deems actionable.

      Finally, it’s problematic for feminists to charge in trying to save men from themselves because men have agency. Men, in fact, run the world. If feminists try to take charge of the issue of men vs men, it’s saying that men are powerless to stop violence even though they are the ones who commit 90% of it. It says that violence is the domain of men and peace is the domain of women, and when what you’re trying to do is deal with violence against men, sending that message is directly counter to what you need to do. Men *have* to be the ones to own violence against men, because it’s committed by men, against men, and there’s basiccally no role by women in violence against men.

      But our whole paradigm fights this. An “ism” is always one class vs another. Men’s rights advocates fight against violence by women against men, which, in comparison to violence against men by men, is almost nonexistent… but they’re just inverting the feminist paradigm, assuming that if there’s a war between the sexes then the battleground is even and it makes sense to just flip the feminist paradigm to fight for men. It doesn’t. The oppression of men comes from men. The violence againsst men comes from men. Men are 80% of all murder victims and 90% of all murderers. Fighting women’s violence against men while refusing to address men’s violence agaisnt men is like removing a hangnail on a guy who’s bleeding out from a gut wound.

      But as long as men expect women to fight men’s violence against men, that’s exactly where we are. If men are going to jump in on articles talking about male violence agaisnt women and say “but what about violence agaisnt men” rather than actually, independently, campaigning against violence against men, they’re reinforcing the paradigm that women are for peace and men can’t handle fighting for their own protection when it involves fighting other men. (Which is ironic, given that we’re talking about men fighting each other less metaphorically as the problem.) Women cannot save men from themselves. It’s not only not our responsibility, it’s actively harmful to men for us to *make* it our responsibility, because it denies them agency to fight their own battles… but since men don’t listen to women and we’re talking about an issue that affects men on men, women would be vastly less effective at fighting it than men could be.

      I have two sons. I have a husband who has been frequently the target of violence. I have a gay brother, and a straight nerdy brother, both of whom have been targeted by male violence from strangers much, much more often than I have. Male violence against men is a topic that is very important to me. But I can only be an ally. I can’t save men from each other. Only men can do that. And men who step into a conversation about men being violent toward women to insist that feminists talk about men being violent toward men instead are actively harming their own cause, because this *cannot* be feminists’ work, any more than white people can step in and save black people from intra-racial violence or oppression (actually, even less so, because white people are socially dominant to black people, whereas women are socially subdominant to men; the only reason this conversation makes the tiniest amount of sense is that men are used to having women trying to save them from themselves, women trying to keep peace, women trying to protect them from other men… but if it had ever worked in the history of mankind, there would be no war because mothers wouldn’t have allowed their sons to go. If men *listened* to women on the subject of male violence against men, we would already have no violence between men.)

      So if you go start a blog, or a movement, to raise consciousness among men about the problem of male violence against men, I approve. I will comment, I will donate to your cause, as long as you can keep it focused on men vs men and not let it drift off into women vs men, which is where most movements that try to help men end up going. But you can’t jump into a feminist blog and demand that we give equal time to male violence against men because we *can’t*. We cannot save you from yourselves. We cannot accomplish the change you need. It will actually harm you and your cause if we try. Do it yourselves, or it cannot get done, because women tried it for 5,000 years and so far it has never worked.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L June 5, 2013 at 9:24 pm |

        Another wonderful comment, Alara.

    4. A4
      A4 June 5, 2013 at 3:19 pm |

      But I find it frustrating that an article focused on “male brutality” and which tries to gender violence (not even sexual violence, but all-around violence) completely ignores the fact that statistically, most violent incidents occur by men to other men.

      This article is about how women are victimized by male violence. It does not need to address men because it is not about the male experience of violence. it is about women.

      The author is a woman. Her friends who shared her experience are women. The person she saw being beaten was a women. The people who told her that there was nothing to be done to help this woman were men. The person beating this woman was a man.

      Privileging the experiences of women is a very big and important part of feminism and combats the widespread marginalization of women’s voices, experiences, and pain.

      1. zaebos
        zaebos June 5, 2013 at 11:28 pm |

        I understand that, and ultimately I agree, but I can also understand the frustration of it all. Especially for those men who have suffered violence (especially sexual), things like this can suggest that violence is only ‘really’ bad when women face it. Especially when stopping male violence against males is talked about because it might positively affect women. So, when a man who has suffered violence, the violence conversation can be very tiring when the conversation is about men and when it’s not. Because, believe it or not, pretty much every serious conversation -about- violence against men is derailed. The most common one is the expectation for people to tip-toe when talking about who the ‘real’ victims are, stuff like that. Just annoying stuff.

        I dunno, I feel like this is a derail of a derail. I know I say this -a lot- and I really am sorry. I figure one day I’ll really make my own conversation, but that’s such an alien concept to me that I don’t know where to begin.

        Since I’m now just using this comment box to vent, I’ll stop here.

        Also, Alara, I’m not sure what you mean by investigating the contributions of a victim. If by victim, you mean someone who didn’t swing, strike, or showed signs of striking, then I don’t know how you can give ‘contributions’ to the victim without victim blaming unless you believe there are situations where a man deserves to be beaten. Just saying.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 11:56 pm |

          I figure one day I’ll really make my own conversation, but that’s such an alien concept to me that I don’t know where to begin.

          zaebos, can I suggest #spillover? I’d love to listen to/participate in a conversation about violence men face, specifically, without feeling like I’m derailing a conversation centred on women.

        2. trees
          trees June 6, 2013 at 12:12 am |

          I understand that, and ultimately I agree, but I can also understand the frustration of it all. Especially for those men who have suffered violence (especially sexual), things like this can suggest that violence is only ‘really’ bad when women face it. Especially when stopping male violence against males is talked about because it might positively affect women.

          Would you please elaborate a bit on this point. The conversation is really quite the opposite in some marginalized communities where is it made clear that protecting men from violence is of primary concern, while stopping men’s violence against women and children is a lower priority.

        3. Alara Rogers
          Alara Rogers June 6, 2013 at 8:53 am |

          I mean that in some instances of male violence against men, the person who ends up worse injured is actually the one who started it.

          There *is* a circumstance in which a person deserves to be the victim of violence. And that is, that person instigated violence against another person and the other person reacted in self defense. Because men are the “violence class”, it is much more likely that anyone assaulting a man is doing so in self defense against an unprovoked attack (or an attack that was “provoked” by words, which I consider an unprovoked attack, because shifting from words to fists is an extreme escalation) than that anyone assaulting a woman is doing so… and in particular, while a woman attacking a woman might be doing so in self defense, a man attacking a woman rarely is, and a woman attacking a man usually is. And women don’t attack each other much in comparison to how often men attack each other or how often they attack women. 65% of women who are murdered were murdered by an intimate partner and there just are not that many lesbians in the world; also, 90% of all murders are committed by men.

          So there are cases where a guy ends up dead or in the hospital and his “assailant” was actually the original wronged party. This is really, really unlikely when it’s a man vs a woman, but when it’s a man vs a man, it happens a lot. How do you analyze the murder rate without taking into account that there are a group of violent men who are murdering other violent men, murderers killing murderers? How could a paradigm that defines a victim and a perpetrator as entirely separate categories handle that?

          Now, if we’re talking about men being randomly beaten up, that’s horrible and it is every bit as wrong for a man to beat another man in public, without provocation (provocation being defined *specifically* as a violent assault from the other man), as it is for a man to beat a woman under such circumstances. But it’s harder to *find* that in the statistics because the statistics on who suffers beatings or ends up dead don’t actually report on who started the fight. That’s why it’s easier to analyze violence between two men of different “classes”; if a gay man is violently assaulted, odds are, he didn’t start it. But if a black straight man is killed by another black straight man, or a white straight man is killed by another white straight man, is self defense confounding this issue or was it really a pure victim vs perpetrator situation? Then there’s the role of crime, which is disproportionately committed by men; if an unarmed man is dead because he was breaking into someone’s house and got shot, did his killer act in reasonable self defense?

          So most of the models we adopt to understand male vs female violence do not work to understand male vs male violence. And the models we have to understand human vs human violence, which were derived from male vs male, tend to be old and encrusted with the barnacles of the past, where good and evil were the analysis concepts. To fight male violence against men we need a *new* analysis paradigm, one that can handle the complexity of “maybe this was a totally unprovoked attack or maybe it was self defense or maybe there was crime involved, let’s break these out separately and multi-factor analyze the situations because they’re going to have different solutions” without resorting to bad guys vs good guys. And it’s not that I don’t think this can be done, it’s just that I don’t think it has been done and I am not sure if anyone’s actually trying to do it.

          I do think it is vitally necessary. Men are the source of the majority of violence on this planet. The human suffering caused by male violence is incalculable. And most male violence is directed toward other men. Even if it did nothing to solve male violence toward women (and I don’t think that’s true), feminists should support any initiative to reduce male violence against men because human suffering, of any human, is bad. But feminists can’t be in *charge* of such initiatives, unless they’re feminist-identified men, because women cannot be called on to save men from themselves; feel free to use our gender analysis toolbox if it helps you, but you can’t use feminism’s full paradigm because it doesn’t apply and it will get in your way, and you can’t expect women to spearhead the movement because frankly men do not listen to women on the subject of male violence against *women*, why would they listen to us on a subject that directly affects them more than it affects us?

        4. zaebos
          zaebos June 6, 2013 at 11:56 am |

          I answered everyone in spillover.

    5. Anna in PDX
      Anna in PDX June 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm |

      I think this has already been said by others, but I lived in a society that was very male dominated, and men also regularly fought each other, and the societal function of the bystanding men was to break up the fight. Whereas if a man is berating his wife, the societal function would be for everyone else to “politely ignore” him. I never witnessed an actual wife-beating in a public space. I did witness situations where you could hear domestic violence in an apartment building and people in that society tended to intervene in those cases. They’d bang on the door and ask to come inside and try to resolve the dispute. But they would not usually go so far as to get the wife out of the situation. They’d just deescalate it and then leave – in some cases taking the man with them to a cafe.

      I think the level of societal impetus for “breaking it up” is way higher if they were both men, is what I am trying to say. And it should not be that way.

    6. C.D.
      C.D. June 5, 2013 at 7:03 pm |

      Pretty much everything that’s wrong with this person’s argument has been said, but can I also point out that “it is tragic that women are in many places treated as subhumans. Particularly on the world scale, there are a number of countries which are mind-numbingly backwards.” is SO missing the point of this article? Which is not about how “SOME” places in the world treat women as subhuman (*cough* NotTheWest *cough*) but about violence against women generally?

      In fact, one of the things I really admired about this article was that the author WASN’T saying that this problem was specific to Kenya – on the contrary.

      As for “backwards” countries, one in four women in the United States have experienced domestic violence in their lifetimes. A woman is beaten by her partner, husband or ex every fifteen seconds in the USA. Domestic violence is the LEADING cause of injuries for women between the ages of 15 and 44. One third of the women murdered every year are murdered by intimate partners.
      In other words, the US better be on your list of “mind-numbingly backwards” countries.

      ALSO, since we are talking about violence against women, it should be noted that women account for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence – versus men for approximately 15%.

      So yeah, there is such a thing as gendered violence.

    7. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve June 5, 2013 at 9:19 pm |

      Please believe that I don’t miss the point of your article, and it is tragic that women are in many places treated as subhumans. Particularly on the world scale, there are a number of countries which are mind-numbingly backwards. But I find it frustrating that an article focused on “male brutality” and which tries to gender violence (not even sexual violence, but all-around violence) completely ignores the fact that statistically, most violent incidents occur by men to other men. It’s not like women are the only victims of an increasingly violent society, and while it’s easy to paint men as only perpetrators of violence, we’re also victims of it.

      I feel like someone should point out that every single sentence in this comment is offensive.

      1. yes
        yes June 11, 2013 at 2:54 pm |

        Especially the factually accurate sentences. I was most offended by those.

    8. zomonim
      zomonim June 5, 2013 at 10:21 pm |

      [sockpuppet detected - comment deleted ~ mod team]

      1. Tim
        Tim June 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm |

        What Would You Do? is a despicable show. How they have avoided anyone getting seriously injured or killed producing that show is beyond me, probably just lucky so far. And they sometimes have Psychology professors and the like actually participating in the “experiments.” They should be reported for abusive human-subjects activities.

        1. Niall
          Niall June 6, 2013 at 3:17 pm |

          @Tim:

          What Would You Do? is a despicable show.

          Oh yeah. A major television network having the audacity to actually take advantage of the current “reality TV” fad and actually, you know, use it in a productive and worthwhile way (as opposed to the standard, exploitative money making, ratings boosting that most of these shows do), by exposing important social issues, like abuse, racism, homophobia and other ills, how prevalent they still are as well as the moral cowardice of so many people to not step in and say something, even when there’s no risk to themselves in doing so.

          Yeah…that’s REALLY despicable stuff. / sarcasm off

          How they have avoided anyone getting seriously injured or killed producing that show is beyond me

          It wouldn’t be if you actually paid attention to how they prepare and set-up for each shoot…which includes several security precautions.

          And they sometimes have Psychology professors and the like actually participating in the “experiments.” They should be reported for abusive human-subjects activities.

          They’re willing to expose themselves to millions of people and make their views known. So I doubt they’re that concerned about being found out and “reported” by someone, in spite of what you perceive as their lack of conscience.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L June 6, 2013 at 3:35 pm |

          The only segment from What Would You Do that I’ve ever watched was the trans-themed one with Carmen Carrera (of RPDR fame; she transitioned after her season of that show).

          I thought it was well-handled for the most part, and certainly wasn’t “despicable.” I’d love to know what was so awful about it.

    9. Victoria
      Victoria June 8, 2013 at 3:55 pm |

      [Trigger warning for discussions of violence]

      In addition to the spot on replies from everyone else, and forgive me if this has been said, male-on-male violence is hard to paint with broad strokes. While there are probably a few cases out there that don’t fit this mold, most male-on-female violence can be attributed to disproportionate power: male on female sexual assault is a show of male power, male on female partner abuse is the result of the male partner both having more power on a societal level than his female counterpart as well as having more power in the relationship (which, of course, relates to having more power on a societal level). But male-on-male violence? It can’t be said to be just one thing. Are we talking about a fight that breaks out after mutual antagonism? Are we talking about homophobic violence? Violence targeting people of color? Sexual assault in prison? Violence toward men with disabilities? The first is very different than the rest, and while all but the first have some element of power, it is not because they are men that make them subject to violence, but because they belong to another marginalized group. Therein lies the difficulty of addressing male on male violence as its own monolithic problem.

  8. Rhiannon
    Rhiannon June 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm |

    That is so awful, couldn’t the police have been called in this situation, even if the establishment’s security had failed to act?

  9. a lawyer
    a lawyer June 5, 2013 at 4:42 pm |

    Well, generally speaking the public is unwilling to intervene in violence (or even to call 911.) A lot of money and research has gone into trying to figure out why.

    Some of it has paid off. For example, in the US cops are now generally required to actually arrest DV assailants, rather than “leaving it alone” as “just a domestic.” This response will (I hope) provide more incentive to call the police–because nobody wants to call the cops and have them do nothing. We need more laws like that.

    But even in situations like the one in this post, and even in countries where it is clearly illegal and the illegality is enforced by the police: there is still a general public unwillingness to intervene. People don’t want to be witnesses; don’t want to be in a police report; don’t want to be in fear of retaliation–and, most obviously, don’t want to risk injury by getting involved in a physical altercation.

    That last one is important. I respect the OP’s decision to use pepper spray on the assailant, but I will delicately note that it doesn’t always work out so well. Sometimes intervenors get sued; sometimes they get shot; sometimes they get attacked by the cops because they aren’t instantly identifiable as being “one of the good guys.”

    Even the security guards are paid to ensure the security of the patrons; they aren’t paid (or necessarily trained) to act like cops. And in fact they are probably forbidden from doing so as a result of our civil system. (Boycott them if you want. But I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that a security guard who left his post to break up a fight unrelated to the bar, therefore exposing the bar’s owners to liability for his actions, would get fired the next day.)

    From a societal perspective, we should all commit to dialing 911 when something seems wrong. And we should not shirk from pointing fingers to help the police find the assailant. But I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect people to actively take a stand against violence by physically intervening in these situations.

    1. msgd
      msgd June 6, 2013 at 12:24 pm |

      Basically this.

      It is easy to say “someone should do something.” Why is the impetus on others? The OP tried to intervene, and discovered that she could not. Maybe the others in the area realized that they also could not. I don’t see how someone can declare themselves incapable of preventing violence, and then demand that others do so in their place.

  10. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve June 5, 2013 at 5:08 pm |

    I had a similarly repulsive (if not similar,) situation which I found myself in in college. I was walking home to my fraternity house (yes, I know…) with a bag of groceries and on the front yard of the house next door to us there was an older guy- a local ‘townie’ (probably 25-30, so much younger than I am now, but seemed like an ‘adult’,) getting rough with his wife. He took a swing at her and I went over to say something and he starts swinging at me. At which point a shedload of my fellow fraternity members came running out of the house to defend me from an ass kicking. I learned they had been watching the guy being abusive to his wife and finding it hilarious in a Jerry Springer type of way- and only when their friend was in danger of getting beaten did they do anything.

    I transferred schools the following semester.

    1. William
      William June 5, 2013 at 6:35 pm |

      He took a swing at her and I went over to say something and he starts swinging at me.

      Thats the million dollar question. How do you stop standing by? Situations like this don’t lend themselves to deescalation, talking isn’t a magic bullet, and someone engaging in active violence is likely to be more than willing to move it around.

      I don’t know how you were brought up, but the “proper” reaction to that kind of male violence where/when I grew up was the application of greater male violence. Your aunt’s husband beat her? Time for the men to “pay him a visit.” Little sister’s boyfriend slapped her during an argument? Go to his house and do something awful. His dad steps in because his son is being beaten? Now he gets the “lesson.” Its an ugly, terribly backwards, incredibly problematic way to live. Half the time its counter productive, the other half of the time it just reenforces the same toxic masculinity that underlies IPV in the first place.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve June 5, 2013 at 9:15 pm |

        I don’t know how you were brought up, but the “proper” reaction to that kind of male violence where/when I grew up was the application of greater male violence.

        Fortunately that wasn’t the atmosphere in my family, because I have absolutely no aptitude for fighting, yet I have been able to talk my way out of situations. As you note, that is not foolproof. During said situation I was attempting to talk the guy around the entire time he was trying to punch my face.

  11. JT
    JT June 5, 2013 at 6:36 pm |

    Disgusting scene, I have seen it countless times in bars and parties as a young man. The difference, it was usually another young man on the receiving end with very similar traits to the woman in your story. The inability to defend himself and no one willing to protect him and stop the beating. :(
    By the way, I have intervened in both instances at my own peril. One time the bouncer told me to back off leave the boyfriend alone and I told him to do his fucking job or I would. Another instance the husband/boyfriend threatened my life, when I got the cops to break it up the wife/girlfriend jumped on the one of the officers. A very complex situation with very few simple answers. The answers need to start way before someone becomes a victim or victimizer.

  12. A
    A June 5, 2013 at 9:16 pm |

    I grew up in Iran, the first time I saw a scene like this I was a kid. A man was beating his wife in public. I got scared and cried. No one did anything, because if there is one thing private in a middle eastern culture it’s what a man does to his wife. Many of the people standing there felt sorry for her, but many- yes, many- deep down believed she had done something to deserve it. Years later when the same happened to me I saw everything from that woman’s point, the feeling of betrayal. People leaving parties, waiting at the doors saying good bye watched as my ex husband beat me on the streets, screaming insults and abusive threats, accusing me of cheating even though we were divorced. 20 years later, again no one stepped in. And all I could think was there is a little girl watching and crying.

  13. anon for this
    anon for this June 5, 2013 at 10:04 pm |

    There’s a story my parents tell me about the time shortly before I was born, when my parents were living in an apartment in the city while my father got an advanced degree. My parents called the cops on their upstairs neighbor after they overheard the man beating up his girlfriend, and the girlfriend pressed charges. My mother was subpoena’d to testify in the trial. About the time when my mother was eight months pregnant with me, before the trial, she was in the apartment while my father was at work and she saw the abusive upstairs neighbor jump down from his balcony to theirs, wearing a ski mask and carrying a baseball bat. Happily, the sliding doors to the balcony in my parents’ apartment were locked, and my mother made it out of her apartment and to a neighbor’s where she called the police. When she wound up testifying, it was not just in the original DV case, it was also for breaking and entering.

    This story always stuck with me, in part because like any child I was selfishly aware that if this man had beaten my mother while she was eight months pregnant, I would have died in the womb, and in part because it seemed so ironic, in light of my parents’ later married years, that my mother and father had been brave enough to risk their lives to help another woman.

    I grew up watching my mother and father get drunk and have screaming, physically abusive fights; my father would throw plates, my mother would throw a beer bottle at my father, my father would hit my mother, my mother would barricade herself in her bedroom with the furniture pushed against the door. I remember coming home from college for Christmas and cowering in the stairwell while I listened to my father threaten my mother with further violence, after having thrown her so hard against the floor in the kitchen that she burst her eardrum.

    Talking to a therapist years later, I remember her being shocked that CPS had never intervened. True, my parents never hit me (while I was a child), but they were so often drunk and violent to each other, and had such incredibly noisy arguments, that it seemed incredible that no one would have intervened. Our next-door neighbors during the worst years lived so close that I am certain they overheard my parents’ arguments, as my parents were never discrete and would often have them out of doors. I am even more certain given how cold our neighbors were to my family while my brother and I were growing up. And yet they never called. Close family knew for years what was going on in my parents’ house; ultimately they have distanced themselves from my parents but never did much substantial otherwise – no one ever, ever, ever called the cops.

    I also know that if anyone had ever called the cops, my mother would have denied up and down that my father was violent; and the same with my father (my mother often gave as good as she got). And I never would have said anything – after all, I had a cell phone growing up. I often thought about calling the cops, particularly that evening when my mother was so badly injured while I witnessed everything. Instead, I called a friend; and when that friend offered to drive from out of state to get me, I made him promise he would do no such thing.

    How do I parse this? How do I parse the fact that my parents were brave enough to intervene, at great risk to themselves, to help another woman; and yet became the sort of people who would regularly assault each other after a night of heavy drinking? How do I parse the fact that I always admired my mother’s courage, and yet was never brave enough to try to “save” her, when I so often had the chance?

    1. Datdamwuf
      Datdamwuf June 5, 2013 at 11:12 pm |

      How do you parse it? I don’t know, except that when you are in an abusive relationship you don’t recognize it for a long while, when you do, you want out. You said your mother “gave as good as she got”, it’s possible the woman she helped was not fighting back and getting badly hurt and so your mother helped her. There are mutually abusive relationships where normalization is on both sides.

      I didn’t save my mother either, even when she finally tried to leave, I was convinced by my brother, her husband and my own husband that she should give him another chance. I forgive me for that, it took a long time but I am a product of my experiences. I was in an abusive relationship myself at the time, though it wasn’t physical (yet). We don’t always do the right thing, we can’t always be the brave person, we can’t even see the truth sometimes. I blocked out abuse for a very long time, much abuse seemed normal to me and I’ve learned that is because an abuser doesn’t just go from Mr Nice to Mr Monster over night, it’s a long, slow process in many cases. By the time the monster appears your love is your greatest enemy because the monster is also the same person who makes you feel safe when he’s Mr. Nice.

    2. amblingalong
      amblingalong June 7, 2013 at 7:57 pm |

      I don’t know if this is true, based on your post, but I want to point out that if the lines about your mother assaulting your father on an equal basis/’giving as good as she got’ can be taken at face value, I have a problem with the assertion she needed to be saved and he didn’t.

    3. William
      William June 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm |

      Talking to a therapist years later, I remember her being shocked that CPS had never intervened.

      I might call the police although I’d be wary there, too, given how my local PD tends to escalate situations and responds with violence first and ass-covering second. I’d never call DCFS unless it was an out-right life or death situation. They’re ineffective at best, dangerously incompetent, almost universally unprofessional, shockingly prejudiced, completely unable to deal with the retaliation on victims that often comes after they show up, and (in the rare instances that they do take action) tend to place children in foster homes where rape and physical abuse are all but facts of life.

      I’m a mandated reporter. I’ve had the experience of seeing DCFS’ work first-hand. Over the years I’ve become convinced that they’re little more than a political office whose role is to make people feel good about having done something and save the career of politicians by having someone else to blame when an especially egregious case makes the news.

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl June 9, 2013 at 6:35 pm |

        Wait, life or death? Care to clarify what you consider life or death there a bit better? Literally only when you see a child who is in immediate danger of ending up dead? What about sexual abuse, or chronic and severe neglect?

        DCFS has its faults here in IL, but I disagree with you that it’s a cesspit of ineptitude. I actually do know people who got real help, in the form of referrals to resources, parenting courses, and counseling, that they never would have had but for their contact with DCFS. And all of this has been seen within the last 10 or 15 years. I’ve also known personally some foster families, and all of them were standup, good people with good intentions. Broad brush strokes are not always the best approach to painting a picture, William.

        (Apologies if I’m wrong about you being in IL, but I seem to recall in past discussions you mentioning that you were also an IL resident.)

        1. William
          William June 10, 2013 at 9:42 am |

          Trigger warning for child abuse:

          When I say life-or-death I mean, quite simply, whether or not I think there is a real risk that someone is going to end up dead. My first DCFS report involved a kid who had had their head held under water until they lost consciousness. They still had bruises on the back of their neck from where they’d been held. The person who had done it still had deep scratches from the kid’s fingernails. DCFS took 11 days to investigate and determined it was unfounded because the kid had a history of mental illness and, thus, “was probably lying to get out of trouble.” My second DCFS report, again with a crazy kid, was never even investigated and I was told by the person taking the report that I “shouldn’t even bother calling unless its sexual abuse with proof or obvious physical abuse.” The first, and only, time I called the “elder abuse hotline” here in Illinois I had to make the call three times because it rang and there was no answering machine. The third time I called someone answered the phone, angrily, and told me that if “they’re on psych meds we aren’t interested.” That call ended with me being told to go fuck myself before the phone was hung up.

          I’m not alone in this. My first practicum was in a CPS high school, I’ve worked in a county hospital, I work today in a school that has half a dozen psychologists on staff. My experience of DCFS has been uniformly bad, as has been the experience of every colleague I’ve spoken to about it and every patient who has had an encounter with them. Its bad enough that when DCFS actually bothers to show up and send a follow up letter its a pleasant surprise.

          I’ve known some great foster families, too. One of my coworkers has been an incredible foster mom. But, its also no secret that abuse is endemic in the foster system and that the good families, like the good DCFS outcomes, are exceptions rather than rules.

          So, yeah, when I call DCFS I have a difficult series of questions to ask myself. Is the situation the child is currently enduring better than what could very well happen if the child is removed from the home? Are these the kinds of parents likely to retaliate against their child if DCFS shows up? What will this child learn about the world if DCFS shows up, tells them they’re “a spoiled little brat who needs a good whooping,” and then determines that the case is unfounded because they’ve got a psych diagnosis? What happens if I make that call, send the entire family into a dangerous stress spiral, and then DCFS never shows up? Now, the easy answer would be to just shut up and make the call. Thats what I’m supposed to do, thats the law, thats what most of my colleagues do. Sure, I’m more likely to help the family change than DCFS and calling is likely to ruin whatever rapport I’ve developed, but then I can just brush my hands clean and rely on having done what I was told.

          Maybe I was exaggerating when I said life-or-death, but not by much. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with mad kids, DCFS just isn’t going to come through.

  14. zomonim
    zomonim June 5, 2013 at 10:13 pm |

    [sockpuppet detected - comment deleted ~ mod team]

    1. Barnacle Strumpet
      Barnacle Strumpet June 5, 2013 at 10:42 pm |

      I’ve been in such situations myself but…You’re going to live your life out surrounded by people who do scummy, shitty things and help no one but themselves, regardless of what actions you take.

      Might as well hold yourself to a higher standard, what’s to be lost by it? Would you have wanted people to intervene and help you? Clearly there are some people that try to help others. Might as well be one of them, and in 10 years when someone is recounting their experiences, instead of talking about how everyone stood by and let them be hurt, they’ll be talking about that one person that stood up and tried to help them.

      Make one less jaded, indifferent person out there.

      1. JT
        JT June 6, 2013 at 11:46 am |

        @Barnacle

        Good points! Reminds me of this.

        When the Nazis came for the communists,
        I remained silent;
        I was not a communist.

        When they locked up the social democrats,
        I remained silent;
        I was not a social democrat.

        When they came for the trade unionists,
        I did not speak out;
        I was not a trade unionist.

        When they came for the Jews,
        I remained silent;
        I wasn’t a Jew.

        When they came for me,
        there was no one left to speak out.

      2. zomonim
        zomonim June 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm |

        [sockpuppet detected - comment deleted ~ mod team]

        1. Barnacle Strumpet
          Barnacle Strumpet June 6, 2013 at 5:21 pm |

          I’m sorry that you’ve been through so much that you don’t feel other people are ever worth risking anything for unless they’ve proved it.

          I can only hope that one day you’ll change your mind and feel that people are worth it.

    2. Aaliyah
      Aaliyah June 6, 2013 at 11:54 am |

      So your desire to help people who are being physically assaulted right in front of you depends on whether you have ever been helped out when you were in the same situation?

      In what world does that make sense?

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 11:59 am |

        The world where one is so busy cuddling one’s snit that one doesn’t actually go to a doctor about that unfortunate recto-cranial inversion issue.

      2. zomonim
        zomonim June 6, 2013 at 1:24 pm |

        [sockpuppet detected - comment deleted ~ mod team]

        1. Alexandra
          Alexandra June 6, 2013 at 3:43 pm |

          Wait, how on earth are you inferring that random strangers being harmed by others feel entitled for your help, in particular? How do you get to be the kind of person who would hear someone crying out, “Help!” and think to yourself, What an entitled ass. I mean, how did you get there?

        2. (BFing)Sarah
          (BFing)Sarah June 6, 2013 at 4:03 pm |

          And physical risk I get…when you intervene you are potentially putting yourself at physical risk. But social risk? How are you putting yourself at social risk by intervening when someone is crying out for help?

        3. Aaliyah
          Aaliyah June 6, 2013 at 4:59 pm |

          “Feel entitled to?” More like “deserve.” I wonder how the world would be if everyone was like you.

        4. Donna L
          Donna L June 6, 2013 at 6:54 pm |

          Since when do people feel “entitled to” such help, as opposed to hoping for it?

          But, maybe you’re right. If I see a person getting beaten up in the street, calling for help, the first thing I always think to myself is, “listen to that asshole, thinking they’re entitled to help! Who the hell do they think they are? They have some nerve!”

  15. zomonim
    zomonim June 6, 2013 at 6:24 pm |

    [sockpuppet detected - comment deleted ~ mod team]

    1. Aaliyah
      Aaliyah June 6, 2013 at 7:15 pm |

      Seeing as how the only bystanders who have ever involved themselves in my conflicts have done so to help the aggressor? Much better IMHO. Ill take neutral over helping the assailant any day.

      There’s nothing wrong with wanting to avoid harm in a specific situation, but this by itself is an absurd reason for not wanting to intervene. Just because no one has helped you in such a situation doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t help anyone else in such a situation. Very often (not always, of course) there are at least other ways of intervening, like speaking out.

      1. zomonim
        zomonim June 6, 2013 at 7:38 pm |

        [sockpuppet detected - comment deleted ~ mod team]

        1. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll June 6, 2013 at 8:10 pm |

          How do you know they wouldn’t? Mind meld?

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 8:32 pm |

          How do you know they wouldn’t? Mind meld?

          Yep. Is Zomonim perchance kersplat/faithless/whatever’s latest incarnation? The telepathy, massive persecution complex and dead certainty that the whole world inexplicably hates them seems to indicate it.

    2. a lawyer
      a lawyer June 6, 2013 at 8:10 pm |

      Can we agree, at least, that it is reasonable to expect bystanders to anonymously call the police? I mean, THAT seems like a pretty obvious social expectation… right?

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve June 6, 2013 at 11:27 pm |

        Can we agree, at least, that it is reasonable to expect bystanders to anonymously call the police? I mean, THAT seems like a pretty obvious social expectation… right?

        20 years have clouded my memory, but IIRC from freshman psychology, it is this expectation which causes people to assume that someone else has called the police. (See: Kitty Genovese)

        1. amblingalong
          amblingalong June 7, 2013 at 7:54 pm |

          See: Kitty Genovese

          Which is a widely reported but completely false story, incidentally.

        2. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve June 7, 2013 at 8:32 pm |

          Which is a widely reported but completely false story, incidentally.

          Don’t be ridiculous. It’s not completely false, she did exist, she was murdered. It happened in the neighborhood I grew up in.

          The inaccurately reported aspects of the murder have little relevance to the fact that the Genovese case inspired an evidence base for the phenomenon whereby being in a group can dilute people’s sense of individual responsibility.

        3. amblingalong
          amblingalong June 7, 2013 at 9:11 pm |

          The inaccurately reported aspects of the murder have little relevance to the fact that the Genovese case inspired an evidence base for the phenomenon whereby being in a group can dilute people’s sense of individual responsibility.

          That part is the part that isn’t factual, though. Only two people witnessed the actual attack and nobody witnessed the murder; of the two people who actually knew she was stabbed, one called the police.

        4. amblingalong
          amblingalong June 7, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
  16. Leah
    Leah June 6, 2013 at 11:54 pm |

    Gets into the ‘bystander effect’ at 11 minutes in, but I really suggest watching the whole thing.

  17. Angela Vistry
    Angela Vistry June 7, 2013 at 12:32 pm |

    I’m not sure if anyone is still reading this thread, but…
    Given the frequent abusiveness of police and the problems with the criminal justice system, I’m not sure calling the police is always the best idea, either.

    1. Henry
      Henry June 7, 2013 at 5:21 pm |

      Not in Kenya, the last experience a friend (a visiting foreigner) told me about involved being stopped by the police, falsely accused of having narcotics and demanded to pay a fine of $360 on the spot. This was in front of their hotel lobby. The only thing that saved them was another friend arriving to pick them up and flashing his diplomatic ID.

    2. amblingalong
      amblingalong June 7, 2013 at 7:53 pm |

      Given the frequent abusiveness of police and the problems with the criminal justice system, I’m not sure calling the police is always the best idea, either.

      I’d always take the chance of an asshole cop in the future over the certainty of someone getting the shit kicked out of them.

      1. William
        William June 9, 2013 at 6:06 pm |

        I’d always take the chance of an asshole cop in the future over the certainty of someone getting the shit kicked out of them.

        I think thats going to have to depend pretty heavily on who is involved and where you are. Calling the police brings the entire machinery of whatever is in power to the scene. Even if you don’t get an asshole cop (which is going to depend almost entirely on the races, classes, and genders, and sexual identities of the parties involved), its not uncommon for the police to arrest both parties. If theres kids in the house there aren’t immediately accessible family members that means child services bringing the kids into their own little circle of hell. And god forbid someone should be involved in sex work or have a joint in their pocket or a clip in an ashtray somewhere a cop might see. Even if they’re held and released pretty quick, that might mean a lost job, maybe it means increased reliance on an abuser, maybe the abuser loses their job and now has more stress to take out on whoever is within reach.

        I’m not saying I have a better intervention, but, you know, its something of a privilege to believe that the police might not fuck things up even more by their general presence.

  18. Marc
    Marc June 7, 2013 at 6:13 pm |

    I’m sorry, maybe this is insensitive to your own perceived lack of power, but you intervene to stop this stuff, leaving to because no one else would intervene for you is a terrible solution.

    Personally, the last time I had to do this I got both pretty badly beaten and then arrested for assault, but that moment of abuse ended and other people were forced to confront it. No one is always strong enough to stop things on their own, but dive in and explode the issue to include the bystanders and you can force their involvement.

    Tell someone to call the cops cause you’re about to commit a crime and then smash his windows and lights with whatever is handy, key his car, slash his tires, scream make noise, commit crimes, force it into the foreground.

    Heroism is about being prepared to endure the cost of doing what’s right when its hard, not complaining that no one else would do it for you.

    1. LemonDemon
      LemonDemon June 7, 2013 at 8:32 pm |

      Not everyone has the privilege to be treated ‘safely’ by the cops – or other bystanders, for that matter. When you have compounding issues, a mountain is made from a molehill. And by mountain to molehill, I mean more serious consequences than a single arrest and getting beaten up.

      “Tell someone to call the cops cause you’re about to commit a crime and then smash his windows and lights with whatever is handy, key his car, slash his tires, scream make noise, commit crimes, force it into the foreground.”

      It’s easier just to borrow his phone to call the police, no? In my experience, forcing bystanders like that is stupid because at best, they’ll cling to your distraction and not the actual problem. At worst, they Become part of the problem. And so will the cops, if you give them a loophole.

      1. Marc
        Marc June 7, 2013 at 9:22 pm |

        Tactics as appropriate certainly, but calling the cops if you don’t trust them to help seems odd.

        My point is simple though: someone needed to do MORE to stop what was happening and even the author failed to have the fortitude to do so…I’m as unimpressed with her actions as with anyone else who was there.

        No one has an obligation to risk themself to help anyone else, but personally I think the world would be a better place if we all acted as if we did.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 7, 2013 at 9:31 pm |

          even the author failed to have the fortitude to do so…I’m as unimpressed with her actions as with anyone else who was there.

          Did you miss the part where OP (or maybe one of her friends) pepper sprayed the guy, and another attempted to get the woman to leave? Like…what was OP supposed to do, beat the guy to death?

        2. Marc
          Marc June 7, 2013 at 9:36 pm |

          Wow…I suck, I did indeed somehow skip that entire paragraph…teach me to be more careful when slacking off at work.

          Comment about the author withdrawn.

        3. LemonDemon
          LemonDemon June 7, 2013 at 9:44 pm |

          “Tactics as appropriate certainly, but calling the cops if you don’t trust them to help seems odd.”

          If the victim seems to be an able bodied white cis woman. then yeah, they’re more likely to help her than if my disabled, visibly trans ass committed a crime to get their attention.

  19. Sherry
    Sherry June 8, 2013 at 5:31 am |

    Beautifully written!
    To quote the author of The Gift of Fear, (a great book about predicting violent behavior) about his use of pronouns throughout the text, “…when it comes to violence, women can proudly relinquish recognition in the language, because here at least, politically correct would be statistically incorrect.” -Gavin de Becker

  20. Link Love (2013-06-15) | Becky's Kaleidoscope

    [...] “Men, especially those in positions of influence and power, must hold other men accountable. They must find the moral integrity and the mental gumption to tell their peers that it is wrong. Most offenders lead more normal lives than we like to remember, and so it is changing the normalcy of violence that we should pursue. It is this spectrum of intervention that must begin on an individual basis in athletic locker rooms, business meetings, and favorite bars. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that what hurts the most “is not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” It is the acrimony of quietude that is most debilitating, most injurious to women, children, and even other men who suffer from what is largely, a leadership problem.” Not our fight: Male violence and the Bystander Effect – Feministe [...]

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