You find yourself at SXSE 2011, trying to watch a set by Screeching Weasel, a staggeringly constant fixture in the international pop-punk scene for the past quarter-century. You have your phone out to capture some above-the-crowd footage of the band and you witness a young girl hucking an ice cube at Ben Weasel (nee Foster) after his repeated disgust at the band’s low income for the evening (250 dollars) versus their next night’s show (25,000 dollars). Your phone doesn’t stop recording as Weasel snaps and right hooks the girl in the face, and quickly turns around to shove at another woman. You, like everyone else, begin cheering as Weasel is dragged off stage, and excitedly upload the video to expose the event to the world, though you’re not entirely sure what you believe to be the biggest atrocity in this situation–that Weasel struck a fan, or that that fan was a girl?
If you choose to argue that Weasel shouldn’t have hit the fan because she was in the audience and he was on stage, go to 2.
If you choose to argue that Weasel shouldn’t have hit the girl because she was a girl and he was a guy, go to 3.
As the hits on the video start to rise, you notice a string of comments of people upset with Weasel’s actions as a man, but are upset at the larger picture–Weasel, an entertainer on stage promoting music that is meant to be uplifting, meant to be young-people’s music and meant to instill a sense of belonging in its listeners, lashed out and hit one of the fans that so vehemently supported him for 25 years, and upon whose ears and hearts his career and fame are literally founded. Regardless of this fan’s gender, Weasel committed the cardinal sin of hypocrisy.
An internet commenter says to you, “Hey, but he hit a girl! How can you ignore that?” to defend your position, go to 4
To expound more theoretically on this, go to 5
For reasons beyond your understanding, the “anchor beyond its depth” of this argument is that Ben Weasel hit a fan, not a girl. Try as you might, you can not avoid listening to arguments of “Well, ultimately, men and women are equal.” This pisses you right off, because you know how many women get assaulted yearly, how many women are raped, murdered, mutilated, all at the hands of some domineering man that needs to exact power over someone else for one reason or another. You know how you would feel if it was you, or your sister, or your mother, or your aunt, or your girlfriend, or maybe you know how it feels to be assaulted and, for some strange reason, being told that it would have been just as bad if the girl was a guy doesn’t cut it for you.
An internet commenter says to you, “Men and women are equal. The tragedy here is that a fan was struck. This has nothing to do with gender.” To discuss this, go to 6.
To expound on this more theoretically, go to 7.
Trolling and just starting a fight for the hell of it? Go to 9.
“How can we continue to demand equality when we baby one member of our equal partnership so frequently?” you start. You argue that women are not weak, that they are equal to men in every way, and that no one should have to suffer violence, regardless of gender. You argue that the women you know are tougher than most guys, and they should never have to take a punch, but they can. Especially, you say, when it comes from the hypocrisy of the power dynamic purported by Weasel. If all things are considered equal, you say, the worst thing about this is violence. Weasel has much to atone for and we should never tolerate artist to fan abuse.
Good argument, you say to yourself. To expound on this more theoretically, go to 5.
Someone phones you and says they have a catch-all answer to the disputes you’ve been having on the internet. To ignore them, go to 9.
To hear what they have to say, go to 10.
Weasel has shifted the power dynamic in a disgusting way. Fans pay for the show, the band plays the show, the band benefits, and so do the fans. The band, admittedly, gets the better deal. Some would argue that the fans get to think that they are part of this moment with the band, but with the number of bands that a fan naturally divides its attention between, the fan is the consumer. The band is the supplier, and they get the bigger payoff. But what Weasel did was expose this, which extends beyond rudeness into sacrilege. Not only does the fan now know that they are lesser than Weasel in his mind, but their contract with the band becomes a slave-bind. They are not helping themselves, they are told. They are lying to themselves, they are told. They are just consumers, they are reminded. Though this may be true on some level, it is not discussed. Fans are to be thanked, their hands shaken, their CDs signed. They are to live forever as the reason the band got big, and they are never to be mistreated. Anyone that does otherwise is acting like an entitled prick.
You’re winded from typing so fast. Your mom walks in and you explain the situation. She offers you, what she believes, to be the end of the argument. Go to 10.
The second a person of one gender hit a person of another, this became about gender. Men and women can be equal socially, you start, but they are not equal in every way. That is what makes their experiences unique, and valuable to them individually, is that they had the chance to experience them as a woman, as a man. Just as someone comes from the experience of being black, or being disabled, you would not whitewash their life with your muscular white legs and say “Hey man, we’re all the same.” We’re not. That’s the point. That’s what makes stories worth telling. There is a fundamental difference between men and women that cannot be overlooked, and for Weasel to cross that line with a balled fist is a hideous act. That difference, of course, is…
Physiology, go to 8
Experience, go to 7
Each time anyone interacts with anyone, they are at the mercy of history. Your actions, whether you like it or not, are part of a long history of experience, knowledge, and choice. When you are dealing with a people who have been oppressed in any way, any choice you make to act in line with any form of that oppression makes you a reminder of that oppression. This is the foundation of all sensitivity. It does not mean that when you tell a racist joke to your different-ethnicity friend you are a slave driver, but you’re dealing with a form of that separation that has watered down to a form that–I hope–is funny to your friend. But hitting a woman is not watered down. It is strictly the same act as the ideological, social, and physical repression used against women for thousands of years. Hitting a woman is not a dilution–it is the repression. Any man guilty of this is guilty of continuing the defeat of a group of people. That man is guilty of repression at least of that one woman, if not guilty of possibly trying to repress the idea of female freedom as a whole.
Whew! I’m going to go see what’s on TV. Go to 9
Finish your thought. 10.
Men and women are scientifically built different. Men are designed with stronger upper bodies and women with stronger lower bodies. Sure, we can have the same jobs, but there is an actual comparative frailty to a woman’s upper body. And for Weasel, who is no 90 pound weakling, to cross her in the face with his fist, he put her in a higher possible risk of brain damage and permanent hospitalization that she could be if she was hit by a woman. There is nothing equal about it. Weasel was bigger, and he hit someone who was smaller, just as any man who strikes a woman is playing to her weaker upper body and dominating it. It’s not bad that Weasel hit just anyone, Weasel hit a woman here. A man hit a woman. And moreover, if we want to get down to the point of “Men and women should be able to take the same amount of pain,” why is Weasel the one suddenly championed as permissible to make this argument? Why is his case special?
“… which leads me to the different natures of men and women’s experiences.” Go to 7.
“…which leads me to a simple answer.” Go to 10.
You get distracted by a bird outside the window and close the computer. Tomorrow you will wake up and forget about this and your time as an armchair intellectual, a hammer for the people, will be over. You will continue posting videos and going about your daily life, and you will forget about all of this, which, your friend on the phone believes, would be a colossal tragedy. Do not forget this.
The answer is simple. A real man doesn’t hit a woman. You try to argue, but your tongue is caught, your jaw locks, and inside, you feel like a monster.