Thursday, July 16, 2015

My sexist upbringing and the brutalization of a teenage girl

My very Cuban mother taught me that men who treat women like in this video --especially a much older, taller, bigger and stronger armed man dealing with a much smaller, weaker, unarmed, handcuffed and more vulnerable young woman-- should have their balls cut off and stuffed in their mouths before they are dumped into the Gulf Stream from Havana's Malecón to feed the sharks.

No, my Mom didn't put it quite that way. But she did teach her children, especially her boys, and very emphatically, that the worst kind of low-life scum in the entire universe was the male who would take advantage of his size, strength or social position to "abusar de una mujer." Which means, literally, to abuse a woman, to threaten or do violence onto her.

In the moral code I learned, it did not matter that the woman "provoked" the aggressor, that she "hit him first," nor anything else like that. The man who hit a woman was much less than a man, and therefore he should not be allowed to continue to live.

That may be why I seethe with rage when I see something like what is on this video.

"She was drunk" is no excuse for the brutalization -- on the contrary, what my mother would have said is that this girl being drunk was all the more reason for the male cop to have been more tolerant, more forgiving, more willing to allow her excesses and even drunken rage. Because she's just a kid and because especially because in that state, and already handcuffed, she could do him no harm. And even if by some freak accident she did succeed in striking him, the chivalrous gentleman takes the blow without wincing or complaint, otherwise, what kind of man is it that starts crying like a girl because another girl hit him?

She tried to kick him, yes, but it is obvious from the video he was entirely unharmed. With training in psychoanalysis, my mother might have said the blow was to masculinity, and so insecure and doubtful was he of his own masculinity that he savagely attacked a handcuffed teenage girl who was much smaller and weaker than he was as if that would prove the potency of his masculine virility -- instead of, as my mother inculcated in her kids, his abuse of the girl proving precisely the contrary.

But even if had have been hit, the code I was brought up with was: running the risk of being hit. or actually taking the blow under those circumstances, is the price of admission we men pay for the privilege of being considered "real men," and those who would respond with more than it would take to  simply fend off the blow, those who respond with a reprisal, show thereby that they are not real men.

I realize that there are all kinds of really fucked-up, gendered and misogynist sentiments and attitudes that were part of the way I was brought up. My outraged gut reaction to this video shows they still live inside me now.

But the fucking truth is that when I see a video like this, I can't help myself from seething with rage because someone who did this to a young woman
is still alive.

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