If you–like me–were a male raised in a first world country with “basic” social values, you were probably taught that it is never okay to hit a woman. It seems fine on the surface. I mean, males are anatomically and biologically inclined to be stronger than women, so men shouldn’t hit women, right?
I currently believe that this case can be classified under the “good intentions, unfortunate aftereffects” social file. It makes sense traditionally; the men were the go-getters and providers, while the women were the homemakers who stayed away from danger. Consequently, the men got themselves into trouble, and the women never got the chance to start trouble. Fast-forward a couple hundreds years or so, and now gender roles are not only looked down upon, but are now also viewed as damaging to young minds. If society (or at least a vast majority of it) has this view on gender roles now, why are we still teaching boys not to hit women? Here’s a better idea. Why don’t we teach our children not to hit people at all?
There will almost inevitably be a point in every person’s life where they are compelled to use physical force for protection, and self defense in these cases is not only justifiable, but necessary. Defending oneself is something every person should understand, at least to a basic degree. However, sometimes we forget about what goes on in a child’s mind when telling them not to do something. The point being, if a credulous young lad is told not to hit a woman, the boy will often commit a fallacy of the inverse in which he assumes that hitting boys is okay, and at the very least assumes that doing so is better (or more permissible) than hitting girls. As we have seen through religious extremism and fundamentalism, pernicious and ridiculous ideas ingrained in a child’s mind are often carried into adulthood, where things become dangerous. A man in a dangerous situation with a violent woman should not feel bashful to defend himself. It is our right as human beings to be able to defend ourselves from whatever danger may be near, no matter the aggressor.
As gender roles and stereotypes continue to fade and become taboo, we have to be careful of what sticks around and what leaves. It is important to investigate and consider what a child absorbs when they are taught a certain phrase or lesson. For this instance, why not salvage the good from the old teaching and jettison the bad? Teach that violence makes bad situations worse while at the same time addressing the child’s anatomical situation. Take the message of “never hitting” to another level by instilling that violence is almost never the answer, but defending one’s self to protect is sometimes necessary. Leave the futile machismo behind. After all, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind” –Gandhi.
Guest author: Drake Daly
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