Should women live in fear of male athletes? Wrong question.

Posted on May 10, 2010


The better question is: Should women live in fear of victimhood?

Because that’s what Sally Jenkins of NBC Sports is really asking.

Jenkins’ NBC Sports piece springs from the recent spate of news articles about professional male athletes assaulting and raping women seemingly right and left.

Practically all the discussions I’ve seen across the web have been of one note: We need to change the male “group cultures” (sports teams, the so-called fraternal mentality of codes of silence) that foster this sort of aggression toward women and permit it to exist.

To that I say dream on.

Look, unless we find a vaccine for it, whether it’s from the days of our early ancestry till the day the sun burns up all its fuel and we’re done on this planet, there will always be human aggression. This thing, to whatever degree, is part of our nature.

And aggression of the kind that we’re talking about, that of men toward women in society, will exist as long as one half lives in a privileged position in society — a position created by them and sustained by way too many women for comfort — and operates on the precept that theirs is a stronger physical form that can subjugate the other half.

And then, to think that half will suddenly lay down their “power” for the betterment of the whole, become more well-behaved, alone or in groups, and evolve into some kind of higher forms of themselves through rigorous intellectual dialogue, is, sorry to say, the height of naiveté.

At no point in human history has such an occurrence taken place.

Whatever your belief about human beings, believe that we do not as a matter of innate nature work toward the better angels of our nature. What motivates us is in fact selfishness in the sense of self-preservation.

To put it bluntly, some types of men are looking for prey. And then other types of men, even perfectly nice ones otherwise, will behave badly given half the chance.

This in and of itself will never change.

There has never been a “safe” period for anyone or any thing in human history, not even for whole nations, that presented themselves as viable prey. Where there is a whiff of weakness, predators will go for it.

Yet, somehow, women seem to think this shouldn’t apply to us. That there’s something different about us, when there really isn’t.

To think that we’re different in any way, that we need protection a little more in any way, whether from men or from the elements, is part of the problem that got us here in the first place.

So let’s stop talking about this issue as if it’s an intellectual quagmire and let’s instead start changing the way we are and the way we see ourselves in society.

I’m not talking about “dressing differently” or anything ridiculous like that. I’m talking about the way we think of ourselves as humans, and in relation to males.

Female victimhood in America, generally speaking, is a state of mind. (Yes, go ahead, set my blog on fire.)

Women in America have, by and large, been brainwashed into believing that they can’t be aggressive. That aggression is a dirty word. That you can’t win by defending yourself physically.

That women don’t carry a powerful enough sense of natural selfishness/self-preservation and that rather, the male sense is stronger and more aggressive and will tear you to pieces if you come up against it.

This, my fellow women, is bullshit.

This is not a discussion about women in certain cultures of the world. There are women in countries across the planet who are not able live in anything but a state of victimization. Their entire monolithic culture, their domestic religion, their societal systems have embedded them in that role for the benefit of males, examples of which can be seen all day on YouTube.

This isn’t what we have here in America. Let me quickly add that I’m also not talking about 16 year old girls who have been enslaved into prostitution nor about women with problems that have placed them in terrible situations.

I’m talking about free adult women who walk around believing that the behavior of some men cannot and should not be looked in the eye, challenged, screamed at, or in any way agitated against.

But that is a lie.

I’ve seen so many women who won’t even say “Excuse me?” to a man who repeatedly cuts them off in conversation. This is some powerful brainwashing. How on earth can such a person not be seen, even by other women, as a person that can be taken advantage of?

Over the course of our natural history one half of the species has managed to convince the other half that it is in a weaker position relative to the former, and it’s time that attitude faced extinction.

What gave this 66 year old woman the ability to fight off her kidnapper with a rock? What explanations are we as a society coming up with to convince other (and younger) women that this cannot be you?

To put it as clearly as I can: The only thing that will change male behavior is female behavior.

We have to stop perpetuating an air of victimhood. And I know how harsh that sounds.

But if we are afraid of getting hit in the face, then we can already be assured that we’ll get hit, and more, because any man wanting to do this knows his physical safety is not in any jeopardy.

If we are afraid of seeming “mannishly aggressive” in our response to the manner in which men treat us or our friends in public, then we’re requesting to be left in victimhood forever.

It bears repeating: Aggression is not a dirty word and aggression does not breed aggression.

If you snarl back at a snarling dog, it does not attack you, it backs down. (Don’t try this, however, with a rabid dog. Run like the dickens, or if you find you can’t, grab the biggest, thickest plank you can and swing for the fences.)

I am not advocating becoming a psychically abusive society. I’m trying to speak bluntly about finally handling behavior that no matter what our levels of “civilization” in any given society, exist in our human nature.

You’ve heard of the phrase “throws like a girl”? Well, that’s not because girls are chromosomally incapable of throwing well, it’s because most girls in America are not taught to throw as a basic childhood skill.

Learn how to throw. Rethink yourself as a female. And if you can’t do it, get mace, get anything, and learn how to use it. Learn how to hit back, and hit back harder.

I don’t think relearning our sense of aggression takes away our joy of life. I don’t think it takes away or even sullies a heterosexual love or attraction for men. And I sure as hell don’t think, like I’ve disturbingly heard women mumble under their breaths, it makes us “less attractive to men.”

What it does take away is the perception that so many men in these so-called group cultures have, that women are walking, talking clueless silliness, just waiting to be pushed into a room and overpowered.

I’m five foot two and don’t weigh very much, and like many women my age, I went out and lived it up in my late teens and through my twenties. And so I’ve been in some very bad situations. I found myself with some physical hurts, but you should have seen the other guy. I have never, ever been taken advantage of, because I made the choice (actually this is a choice the women in my particular culture seemed to have made at some point in our history) that in any given situation, I am equal to whomever wants to harm me.

I don’t care about appearing harsh, or unfeminine, or what the hell ever. But most of the time, I have avoided a lot of problems by never entering a potentially dangerous situation (bar, club, house party, anywhere I may have a drink) alone.

I go with friends, and we agree that one of us will remain sober, will always have the rest of us in visual contact, and never allow any of us to follow any guy anywhere, no matter if the guy was Clark Kent.

And starting freshman year in college, at the end of the night, that designated friend watched each of us enter our rooms and lock the door behind us.

This wasn’t some kind of post traumatic stress disorder behavior, it was simply from not expecting any kind of special dispensation from the nature of human beings. Consider that even when men are attacking women there are sometimes  other women witnessing and doing nothing.

I am absolutely not belittling the brutal situations that victims of crimes find themselves in. As I said, I’ve been there. But women have got to change the way we see ourselves in relation to men.

As I see it, it’s the equivalent of Rosa Parks making a decision not to move out of the way because of her skin color. Black Americans in the push for equal civil rights did not look around at a society lynching and oppressing blacks and say there was nothing blacks could do about that problem. Not hold protests, not boycott and not march on the nation’s capital.

No, according to how Jenkins might see this metaphor, it was whites who had to change their “behavior and language and become mortally offended, until their grief and remorse over an assault trumps their solidarity.” Sorry, but this is not human nature. Just about every living thing on this planet seeks out the weaker and tries to overpower it. But instead Jenkins says women need bodyguards and romance. Well good luck with that.

If you can’t fend off an aggressive male, get a friend to help you. If you’re alone, fight with all your strength. Grab anything you can. Make it such a nasty, fucked up experience for him that he will think, not twice, but fifteen times before he tries that again with the next female.

I don’t know what else to say. I only know that we’ve got to stop talking pretty at physical danger.

Of course, even if women drop the default position of victimhood, things will not change overnight. But change comes in many ways. Sometimes overnight, sometimes one person at a time. Let’s allow ourselves to

I’m truly sorry if in writing this piece I’ve offended anyone who has ever been attacked. That is not my intention.

Posted in: culture, people, society