Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Man Pants

It's not often, but there are times when I finish reading a press release from the Madison Police Department and I just have to throw my head back and laugh.

We're lucky here in Madison to have a former reporter of Joel Despain's caliber working as a spokesman for our police force. One of Joel's greatest strengths is his knack as a story teller, and there are times when it shines through in something like a police press release, which is generally intended to be bland and to the point at best. I've seen some from other departments come across my desk that almost require a cryptographer to decipher.

But the Madison press corps got a good chuckler from Joel today. As with most of them, you have to read between the lines to get the joke.

Incident report for Case#2009-182844
Released 06/24/2009 at 11:51 AM by PIO
Joel DeSpain
Incident Type
Injured Person
Incident Date
06/23/2009 -
3:08 AM
400 block West Doty Street
Female, white,
5'6", 115 lbs., with curly, red shoulder-length hair, slender build, wearing a red sundress.
Male, age 21, MadisonVictim suffered multiple
abrasions to his back, including two cuts requiring 11 stitches. He also had a bruised chest, a cut lip, and a sore nose.
On Tuesday, a 21-year old Madison man came into the Central District to report a battery that happened around 3:00 a.m. that morning. He said he was at a downtown house party, sitting on a porch, when a woman started dancing and taking her clothes off. The victim said he - and others - laughed as they watched the disrobing. As he chuckled, another woman, clad in a red sundress, slapped him across the face, saying, "You don't know who you're dealing with." The man backed up, sat on a railing, and continued to guffaw at the striptease. Suddenly, the woman responsible for the slap "rushed" the victim - knocking him off the railing. He says he fell more than six-feet onto concrete. The woman descended with him, landing on his chest. Friends cleaned him up, and he discovered his back was bleeding profusely. He ended up in the emergency room, and wishes to pursue charges against the assailant. She has not been located.

By the time I finished reading this story, I had nearly fallen out of my chair. I have no idea how the police officer that took this report was able to keep a straight face.

If this 21-year-old "victim" has any motive other than getting a phone number in wanting to file charges against this "assailant," I'd like to sit him down and have a talk about finding him a decent pair of man pants. I mean that. I don't know any self-respecting member of the male gender that would come forward to police to admit he'd had the crap kicked out of him by a girl.

Based on the "victim's" description, we're not talking about a bruiser here. Girls that are 5' 6" and 115 pounds don't play for the women's hockey team. With the red hair and sundress, guys should have been lining up around the block to get cracked in the jaw by this young lady.

Let's face it, there's a fair chance this guy got exactly what was coming to him. As a member of the male gender, I'm realistic enough to admit that 3 AM at a house party is not when most guys are at their most gentlemanly, and I find it hard to believe this guy was half the "victim" he makes himself out to be. I say good on this mysterious red-clad firebrand for being able to lay down the law with the punk.

But for this guy to take his pitiful, fabricated story to police is an unprecedented level of weak. There are certain unspoken rules all men should abide by. You never hit, push or otherwise lay an ungentle hand on a woman. If a woman takes a swing at you, you get out of the way or you take the hit. There's no excuse for fighting back. And if a woman gets the upper hand and bloodies you up a bit, you sure as hell don't tell anyone!

That's what I find so baffling about this story. So the guy needed a few stitches and will probably be the butt of a running joke among his buddies for a while. Dragging police in the matter won't solve either of those problems. In fact, it will likely prolong the humiliation, first when his buddies see the police report, then when some media attention is paid to it. If they actually catch the young woman, that will reopen the wound, as will any court appearances to follow.

I can just picture this guy, tears streaming down his face, describing to a jury the "brutal beating" he sustained at the hands of the five-foot-six pixie in a red sundress. Call protective services! He's going to need protection from this monster!

I've got to think that this guy was just a little concussed when he made the decision to take his story to police, and didn't think ahead to the guffaws that would follow any time one of his buddies mentions "that time Jimmy got his ass kicked by a girl."

So let that be a cautionary tale to any young men who haven't learned these lessons yet. Fiery things can come in small packages, and while there are times they will bruise your pride, you're just going to have to man up and get over it.


Julie Warner said...

Yours is such a disgusting opinion. Consider how it perpetuates the same gender norms that shame male domestic violence victims from escaping their abuser and bringing him or her to justice.

Men feeling the need to prove their masculinity -- which you incorrectly define narrowly and rigidly -- is the real problem that should be addressed.

Dustin Christopher said...

Really? More disgusting than the opinion that women should only cook dinner and make babies? More disgusting than the opinion that Asian is Asian and there ain't no difference between the lot of 'em? More disgusting than the opinion that you can "catch" or "cure" "gay?" I like to think that on a scale of one to disgusting, my opinions rank somewhere between a two and a three.

I certainly think there's a mile of difference between a one-time scuffle at a house-party between complete strangers and issues of chronic domestic abuse.

Julie Warner said...

Sure, I think the outcomes are a mile apart. Duh.

But your argument is less about the scuffle than it is about what makes a man. Your definition bullies men into proving just how manly they are. It is along the same lines as when someone notices atypical male behavior and must reject it as "gay."

And if you didn't feel this same anxiety, you wouldn't feel the need to rail against this man's "unprecedented level of weak."

Dustin Christopher said...

Yeah, because a guy that doesn't get excited about basketball or baseball, sings high tenor and enjoys musicals feels the need to reject atypical male behavior as "gay." Who's stereotyping now?

You're right, my argument is about what makes a man. I was raised to believe that as a man, if a woman slaps me, or stomps on my foot, or spears me in the gut and knocks me six feet off a porch, I am to do NOTHING to retaliate. In a really serious situation, it's acceptable to defend oneself as minimally as is necessary to keep from being seriously hurt.

If this woman had continued her attack, and he had pulled out a phone and dialed 911 then, it would be acceptable. But he didn't feel threatened enough then to call for police help. He did it the next day, when he was already patched up, safe and sound. That makes it retaliatory, and unacceptable in my book... just a few steps short of hitting back.

If you don't like the expectations I have for the rest of my gender... well, that's too bad. I won't take it personally, just like I won't take it personally if you don't like it when I offer to pick up a tab or hold a door open either.

taylor said...

Hi Dusty. Sorry to make my first comment on your blog a disagreeing one, but I kind of have to.

1. First, given that this incident happened at 3a.m., the kid could very well have been pretty much plastered. Beyond the immediate concerns of dealing with his injuries, he may not have been in any shape to consider his options, and it just might not have occurred to him that he could or should press charges. Furthermore, at 21 a person (kid, really) often has little experience with the legal system, may find it intimidating, may not immediately think of police as an ally (versus the nemesis from whom you must hide your underage drinking) and may not feel like he has "a right" to bother the cops at 5am with something less urgent than death/larceny. Lastly, after a rowdy party, a tumble from a porch, and a potentially long emergency room wait, sleep was probably high on his list of priorities. In sum, his delay in pressing charges may have been genuine hesitancy - NOT retaliation. Also, emergency room visits can cost around $500, and it's not "retaliation" to want to get that back.

2. My opinions about gender would take a long time to lay out, but most relevant is that I think your description of "how a man ought to behave when a women hits him" is actually "how anyone ought to behave when anyone hits them unless both parties are members of Fight Club and/or have clearly indicated consent to be violent toward each other." Anyone should be allowed to react in self-defense against anyone else, but only with the maximum violence necessary to get out of the situation.

That's all.

taylor said...

And when I say "only with the maximum violence necessary" I mean "minimum violence necessary." You know, indicating very little. It's been a long week.