For the same reason girls shouldn’t hit guys: violence is bad. And you thought this post was going to be misogynistic and controversial…
CASE STUDY: Recently, I watched a friend (female) playfully slap another friend (male) around the face. I suspect you are yet to bat an eyelid. I didn’t either, until he slapped her back.
Overlooking what we all agree on, that neither of them should have really slapped the other in the first place, there remains a social enigma to dissect. Why is it considered worse for guys to hit girls?
Has this social taboo formed around the breaking of the stereotype that women should look after children, and men should look after women? Perhaps, but this just seems outdated. I suspect instead that it has something to do with size. Size matters after all.
Guys are physically stronger than girls. There, I said it, but this is only to generalise biologically of course. Maybe we frown and gasp when a guy hits a girl back jokingly because we cannot help but imagine a more serious situation, in which the woman is believed to be the less able of the two at defending herself, and the man capable of greater harm.
This suggests the one-way taboo around men hitting women has come into existence as society’s way of compensating for the fact women appear – in biological terms of strength – the underdog. Society loves to champion an underdog and this is usually a good thing. However, on occasion this disposition can be accused of turning the tables back too far…
Modern society’s inclination to label women as its underdog or, to pick an already overused word, “victim” has ultimately been popularised by the feminist movement. But nowadays I think this is often misrepresentative and lies disjointed from its original context. Worryingly, the stereotype tends to be fanatically fuelled by imposed male guilt and female self-pity.
Such social conditioning can have, and has had, a negative effect on both the male and female mentality. It runs the risk for example of alienating the men who do find themselves the victims of domestic abuse (who you might be surprised to learn actually make up one third of all UK cases). These men are deterred from speaking out in a society that would consider it ‘whimpish’ or ‘unmanly’ to do so because the position of the victim has been feminised.
This overly casual promotion of female-victimisation has also now ironically reached the extent where it acts as a huge obstacle against the empowerment of women. This is because it can encourage women to accept, and even indulge, in the helpless state in which society has declared they are trapped. If you label someone as a victim and start showering them with sympathy you are conditioning them to feel sorry for themselves – an unproductive and anti-progressive mind-set.
To conclude my thoughts: the taboo surrounding men hitting women is generally a positive thing that deters violence, but unless this can be extended to protect men from women too, society it seems runs the risk of safeguarding the damaging stereotypes attached to both genders.