Don’t Hit a Girl

A good friend of mine and I had a New York moment the other night, when we walked past a screaming fight between a young man and woman. Well, they weren’t just screaming — one guy was holding back the man so he wouldn’t hit the woman. And he did eventually push the woman, at which point she fell on the street. My friend, somehow often caught in situations where he ends up physically protecting others, couldn’t help but to stop and make sure this guy wouldn’t be able to hit the girl. Eventually the situation subsided and we kept walking.

Later that weekend, my friend and I got into a long discussion about gender in regard to that specific situation. My friend said something about how a guy shouldn’t hit a girl. While I obviously agree with this statement, I had some issue with it. I agree that a guy shouldn’t hit a girl, but that’s not because she is a girl. It is because a guy shouldn’t be hitting anyone. Just like a girl shouldn’t be hitting anyone either. But what I had issue with is the language we use in reference to the safety of girls. While I believe in non-violence, violence can be less appalling when it consists of two physically equal entities fighting. But it is different when a physically stronger person is trying to hit a physically weaker person. In the case of the fight I refer to above, the girl was physically weaker than the guy trying to hit her — that was clear. So I agree that he should not have been trying to hit someone physically weaker than himself. However, shouldn’t that be the language we use? By saying a guy shouldn’t hit a girl, don’t we automatically presume that the girl is the physically weaker of the two? I won’t deny that in many, if not most, cases men are physically stronger than women — whether this is due to biology or social upbringing, I cannot say for sure (although I would assume it is a combination of both). But by making that into a generalization that applies to all men and women, we are falsely presupposing that the female sex is weaker.

I worry I may get a lot of hate mail over this post… what feminist takes issue with the statement “a guy shouldn’t hit a girl!” But I am not saying it should be acceptable for a guy to hit a girl — of course not! I am just saying we should change the language we use, and instead talk about people not hitting other people, especially when the person being hit is physically weaker. Thoughts?