It’s just too easy to tell boys not to hit girls

A lot of focus on domestic violence this week.  I’ve been challenged to think about this at a number of levels.  I grew up in a household that had domestic violence.  As a boy and young man I watched horrible men hit my mother, and I was unable to stop them.  I grew up with anger, like many young men.  I believe life has a way of putting things back in front of you that you don’t address.  I now have three sons.

There is no reason to ever hit a woman, we are told.

We are also told to “be a man”:

I’m guilty of doing some of this with my sons, and I’m a man whom I would think most people think I’m a pretty progressive father. I encourage kids to do what they want regardless if our society believes it’s masculine or feminine.  Hell, I sang falsetto in my high school rendition of Music Man as part of the barber shop quartet!

I’ve also screamed at my sons while coaching them to stop acting like a ‘girl’, to ‘be a man’, that ‘you’re acting like a bitch’.  I’ve fallen into the masculinity trap in raising my own sons. I’ve actually told my wife, that ‘she doesn’t get it’. “Let me do this”, “they need this”. To her credit, she doesn’t.

I believe we fail boys by telling them “just never hit a woman”.  Like that one statement, just solves it.  Just, takes away years of us trying to make them aggressive, make them ‘men’.  If we don’t show these boys that it’s okay to cry, to show emotion, when they are young, all we are doing is setting them up to eventually ‘pop’.  My Dad use to say that to me.  He could see the emotion building inside me, and me trying to hold it all in, because I was trying to be a man.  “Eventually, that cork is going to pop and everyone better watch out”, he would say.  And it did.

I was challenged with a question this week. What if one of my male employees hit his wife or girlfriend, like Ray Rice hit his fiancee?  Would I do what the Ravens did and fire that employee?

It’s easy to say yes.  That’s the politically correct thing to say.  “Of course! You never hit a woman!”

Then you realize, I might be raising one of those ‘men’.  I might be one of those ‘men’.

The better question to ask, isn’t “would I fire them”, it’s “what would you do to help them?” What would you do to stop this all together?  It starts with boys.  We don’t fix ‘men’ who hit women.  We fix boys believing that the way to deal with their emotions is not through aggression and violence.

9 thoughts on “It’s just too easy to tell boys not to hit girls

  1. Amazing post, Tim. I read an article today about restorative justice, and thought about whether our society is more focused on punishment or rehabilitation. Your thought about “what would I DO with this employee” is related – do you SAY stop it, do you show that person HOW?

    It’s difficult to break the pattern. You’re a step ahead by recognizing it’s there and trying to make it better.

  2. It takes incredible strength and courage to look at ourselves and see the things that are difficult, ugly, and hurt. Thank you for being brave enough to ask these questions in public and take a position with compassion.

    PS Crying makes your dick bigger

  3. Good post Tim. I think it depends on the situation and the visibility of the employee which is probably a double standard of sorts but I’ll let you be the judge. Say you’re the President of Subway and a GM of one of your stores hits their spouse. That GM should get some counseling and support. If Jared hits his spouse he should also get some help and support but he will be fired. I doubt the Ravens F&B employee would get fired if they hit their spouse. Reality is they should all get some type of help or counseling whether they are fired or not and hopefully their EAP covers family members as well. Totally agree on your point of how young boys are raised.

  4. …and overlooked is the admission by Ray and his wife that they had been drinking “hard liquor” on the night in question. I wonder is substance abuse is the real problem and the assault is an outcome of use of alcohol. I wonder Ray slugs his wife when he’s stone cold sober?

  5. My knee jerk reaction is YES! Fire his crazy ass! Then a friend brought up a good point. Instead, make his employment conditional on seeking solid treatment not only for him but for his now wife. Make sure he has to serve community service either through PSA’s or work with a national organization on domestic violence. Put him in a position to have to face what domestic violence does to the women, kids, and friends. Do NOT make it easy on him to walk away feeling anything but remorse. Educate him because he may not have had any good role models in his childhood. Make him accountable for his actions instead of letting him off and removing the one thing that might motivate him to seek help and that is his employment. There are those that say she provoked it. I’m not saying she is an angel in this because all we have are he said/she said and video tape of his actions/reactions. There is still very limited justification in abuse against a woman. I have had friends who were in a relationship with women who were crazy. One friend was attacked by his sister who tried to stab him. One friend was abused by his girlfriend but was too ashamed to tell anyone. It’s a crazy world and situations like this need to be addressed by professionals. Not the media. The circle of violence needs to be broken in the right way to ensure it doesn’t happen again. The one thing that put a serious hurt on anything good coming from this was the cover up attempt by the NFL, the owners and management of the Ravens. Shame on each and every one of them. They are the reason why this shit is pushed back into the dark. They are the reason why women do not try to find help. Why some women are murdered by their abusers. Because people looked the other way. Because it’s not their responsibility. Because the woman didn’t leave when the abuse started or escalated. Too many fricking excuses by “adults” on both sides of the issue.

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