The above pictures show an incident which occurred on 21/9/14 in Birmingham (UK), in which a woman attacked another woman. The attack was sparked because the attacker’s VW Touran was parked in the middle of the road, where no one could get past. She was sitting in the passenger seat while the male driver had gone into a nearby shop, and the victim had asked if she could move the car to let her through. The victim asked how long they might be parked there, and was met with a tirade of abuse, before taking another route and parking near the shops. But as she got out to go inside, she was violently attacked.
The nature of what unfolded is clearer from the video from which the above stills were taken, available at Ref.. The whole incident lasted about 17 seconds.
What I would like to discuss here is the reaction of the public reading the newspaper report, as indicated by the comments they left. Obviously, no one had a good word to say for the nasty violent woman who attacked another woman unprovoked. But the curious thing is that many commenters did not have a bad word to say about her either. Instead their comments were as the following examples illustrate (I have not edited these – they are the full comments in every case),
Can’t believe those two blokes not intervening.
Why on earth are those three ‘men’ standing there watching?? If you cannot help this poor lady, at least do the decent thing and stop gawping, get in the shop and phone the police!!!
What are those two very brave men doing, shame on them both.
What is it with onlookers, wouldn’t no one help? I am disgusted at them all. That man with the striped shirt and pony tail? He should be arrested for doing nothing!!
All those who failed to help should be arrested too.
The two men witnessing the attack weren’t cowards they were enjoying the spectacle.
And everyone just stands there and watches! My friends moan at me for stepping in on confrontations but I’d rather not have a guilty conscience even if it means putting myself at risk.
Why did any one not step in. Disgusting to stand & watch.
I can’t believe those men just standing there watching – should be ashamed of themselves but I suspect they’re not!
Nice to see the two blokes just watching!!! Heros to the end there are not!
I’d like to deconstruct those comments in some detail. There’s a lot going on.
What we have here is a clear and indisputable case of a woman being 100% to blame for an act of unprovoked violence. And yet the above comments, and a great many more like them, choose not to mention that. Instead they find a way of throwing blame at the nearest man – literally. I’ll come back to that, but first some observations.
The whole incident lasted about 17 seconds. Commenters talking about “going in the shop and phoning the police” have failed to appreciate that the still photos, which they may have contemplated in comfort for 20 minutes, depict a dynamic event that was over very quickly. They have also failed to appreciate that, being still photos, the men would inevitably appear to be just standing around, “doing nothing”. But the video makes it clear that the guy in the purple jacket was actually remonstrating with the woman.
But the important messages to come out of these comments is what they expose about the female sense of entitlement and women’s insistence on male obligation. They also provide an excellent example of how women totally fail to appreciate the cleft stick in which men are trapped – despite having been trapped there by women themselves.
First the entitlement and obligation thing. Notice the mindset at work in these comments: men have an obligation to protect women – including complete strangers – even when an event is thrown at them out of the blue with seconds to react – and women are entitled to expect that protection.
Notice how enraged the commenters are that the male bystanders have apparently failed in their duty. They should be ashamed say many of the commenters. One commenter puts ‘men’ in inverted commas to indicate that their failure to do their duty has rendered them ‘not real men’. Shame, is, of course, the standard punishment meted out to men who fail in their duty to women. But other commenters think the crime of failing in their duty to women is so serious that the men should go to prison.
One commenter even says, tellingly, that “He should be arrested for doing nothing!!”
Do pause to think about that opinion. Do contemplate what it says about women’s perception of men’s position in our society. In this year, the centenary of World War 1, it is chillingly reminiscent of white feathers and Emmeline Pankhurst’s insistence that “The least that men can do is……to redeem his word to women” by fighting and dying to “save the mothers, the wives and daughters of Great Britain from outrage too horrible even to think of“.
To anyone for whom the concept of male disposability is new, please note how this incident illustrates the deeply ingrained nature of this mindset – and the fact that it has not changed in the last 100 years despite the radically altered position of women in society. Men deserve to be arrested “for doing nothing“, they believe. These women insist on men’s absolute obligation to protect women. But do not expect the sentiment to be reciprocated.
The entitlement and the obligation are, of course, as emphatically gendered today as they were in 1914. Imagine two men fighting in the street. Would nearby women be expected to break it up? Women would look at you in blank amazement at the suggestion. And if the situation was just as in the above incident, that is if one man was clearly an innocent victim, would women see it that way? Or would they just see two violent men fighting? The latter, I expect, and nearby women would just tut under their breaths and scurry away.
Equality? I’m all for it. But there is little chance of it any time soon.
But what about that cleft stick? The cleft stick is just this: men are simultaneously both obliged to do something in this situation and also forbidden from doing it.
Forbidden? I am referring, of course, to the fact that men are not allowed to touch women. And I do mean “touch”. The slightest touch of a woman can result in a man being convicted of assault or sexual assault. We are all acutely aware of this, and are reminded constantly by the reporting of incidents in the media. And if any degree of force whatsoever were used, such as pulling the woman away or gripping her wrist to stop the blows, there is a very real risk that the man would be arrested for common assault. That men are also acutely aware of the likelihood of this is demonstrated from the many comments (from men) to this effect.
Moreover, it is clear that to stop this strong, aggressive woman, substantial force would be needed. At least as much as she was exercising against the victim – perhaps more.
So what is a man to do? To attempt to fulfil his obligation to protect women whilst respecting the prohibition from touching a woman, a man can only remonstrate verbally. And this is exactly what the guy in the purple shirt did. I would have done no more. Very few men would have been willing to touch that woman – not out of fear of physical harm, but out of fear of ‘doing wrong’ in the eyes of those same self-appointed judges who would send them to goal for poor performance.
A woman bystander would have found it far easier to, say, attempt to pull the aggressor away – precisely because women are not constrained by the prohibition that they have placed on men.
For, yes, it is women who have put men into this cleft stick. It is women – or at least our gynocentric society – which have placed the obligation upon men to protect women, even strangers. But it is also women, or our gynocentric society, which have increasingly constrained men from any physical contact with women without their explicit consent. And this brings me to my final point: that women in general are completely unaware, or unconcerned, about this flat contradiction.
Women feel no need to be concerned at having placed men in an impossible position. The attitude of women is simply to state what they expect from men. They expect protection, and they have now been taught to expect an extreme form of control over men in regard to touching. Women feel no obligation to ensure that their demands on men are actually consistent. This is the cleft stick they have made for us.
But, ladies, we are unable to protect you from yourselves.