Is It Ever OK For A Man To Hit A Woman?
Artis Hughes, Rayon McIntosh and other times when the line is blurred.
Society teaches us that no man, under any circumstances, should lay his hands on a woman. But it still happens, and when it does, it's not always under the umbrella of domestic violence.
Late last week, video surfaced online of a Cleveland bus driver, Artis Hughes, punching a young woman in the face after she yelled and cursed at him.
What led to the fight has yet to be determined, but the cell-phone video begins with both of them hurling insults at each other. The argument escalates to a point where the woman, identified by Cleveland transit police as 25-year-old Shidea N. Lane, puts her hands on Hughes and ignores his demands that she step behind the yellow line. All of this takes place while he continues to drive the bus with other passengers on board.
Hughes, a 22-year veteran of Cleveland's Regional Transit Authority, then stops the bus, gets up from his seat and without hesitation, lands an uppercut on the slightly built Lane. Hughes is seen dragging the woman by the hair and throwing her off the bus. She gets back on the bus and continues to fight, before Hughes appears to choke her and other passengers finally separate the two.
Passengers are shown asking Hughes why he reacted so violently, to which he replied, "I don't care. If she wants to be a man, I'mma treat you like a man."
In an interview with Cleveland's Fox8 news, Lane says that was suprised that any man would hit a woman that hard, and that Hughes should have just pulled her off the bus.
Neither Hughes nor Lane pressed charges against the other in the Sept. 18 fight that Cleveland transit officials said they were not made aware of until the video went viral Friday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. Transit officials immediately suspended Hughes and apologized for his behavior.
But social media erupted once the video hit the web, with the hashtag #uppercut trending on Twitter and people getting into heated debate about what took place on that Cleveland bus. Some said the woman deserved to get hit -- just not as hard as she was. Others opined that the bus driver's behavior was inexcusable and he should have restrained her in a less violent way. Including Lane herself.
As varied as were the views people presented, one question stood out as one folks were not brave enough to ask: Is it ever OK to hit a woman?
First, let's set the record straight: Violence against women is no laughing matter. But it seems as if comedians may be the only ones brave enough to even entertain the notion of hitting women.
In "Elephant in The Room," Patrice O'Neal's final stand-up special on Comedy Central, the late comedian joked that while he doesn't condone violence against women, he does condone thinking about it.
O'Neal then put a racial spin on the issue when he went on to joke that a difference between white women and black women was that the former says things to get murdered, while the latter says things to get hit.
Years before O'Neal's comedic commentary, Chris Rock joked that he would never pull an O.J. (Simpson) and kill his wife, but understood why a man would. He later quipped that he would never hit a woman either, but he'd "shake the s**t out of them."
Judging from the responses both jokes received, both men and women seem to think that there may be an appropriate time to return force with force.
One example is an incident reminiscent of the Cleveland bus brawl that took place inside a New York City McDonald's last year. Cashier Rayon McIntosh beat Myika Darbeau and Rachel Edwards with a metal rod after Darbeau berated him and then the two women hopped over the counter to attack him. Many saw McIntosh's admittedly brutal beatdown of the women as self-defense and supported him after he was fired from his job. The consensus, from both men and women, was that the women got what they deserved. In fact, a jury agreed, acquitting McIntosh of felony assault charges related to the case.
(Last week, Darbeau filed suit against McDonald's for the injuries she suffered in the fight, saying that McIntosh used “unnecessary, excessive and unlawful force.”)
However, as demonstrated by what happened to McIntosh and driver Hughes, one risks loss of one's livelihood and even jail time for hitting a woman, or anyone for that matter. So obviously, it is "wrong" to hit a woman.
But are there distinctions to be made?
Some would have you believe that walking away or "restraining" the woman is the best and only thing to do when one is yelling in your face, swinging at you, spitting on you or hopping over cashier's counters. But the reality is that there are men who agree with what one commenter said about the Cleveland uppercut video: "The way I see it, the minute she put her hands on him she gave him permission to beat her a**. Period. He was wrong for continuing to fight her but she asked for it when she hit him first. We're past that 'don't hit a female' stage in life."
While most men would be afraid to say so publicly, or at least outside their circle of friends, a lot of men have put their hands on a woman and felt justified in doing so. One may tell you that an argument got out of hand and the woman started throwing objects at them or started hitting him first. Another may say that the woman spit on him or hit him in the face. But in reality, the only time a man is going to let a woman get away with hitting him is when he's been caught doing something wrong, specifically cheating, and has no honorable option but to walk away. Because really, how are you going to get caught cheating AND hit the woman you cheated on?
And no, don't assume that men are learning it from rap music, television or even a violent father figure. Ask any man about his stance on hitting women back in a fight, and he most likely will tell you a variation of something his mother, grandmother or aunt told him and any other boy they had a hand in raising, "Never put your hands on a woman, but if she hits you, defend yourself."
"Defend yourself" can be defined differently depending on the person. To Rayon McIntosh, it meant grabbing a steel grill scrapper. To Artis Hughes, it meant channeling Mike Tyson circa 1988. To anybody else, it could mean blocking punches and bear-hugging.
So, where is the line drawn? Does a woman set the stage for violence when she starts a fight with a man? Is the man supposed to keep his hands to himself? If he does retaliate, is he supposed to keep in mind that he is likely "stronger" than the woman he's in the fight with?
The question "Is it ever OK to hit a woman" may have the same answer as a query Chris Rock posed, "Is it ever OK for white people to say n****r?"
Answer: Not really.
But perhaps an even better answer is to just respect people's space in the first place.