Violence around women

Men are more violent than women. That is the conventional view, at least among men, & radical feminists. But those familiar with women will know the case is not secure. True, we have met women who were to appearance of a pacific nature, but then, we have met plenty of harmless men. (More, probably.) The issue is confused because men quietly agree to measure violence by quite selective standards. There may be more men than women in our gaols, convicted of soi-disant “crimes of violence.” But the connoisseur will observe that such violence is often of a superficial kind, artless & without subtlety.

We like to quote the late Canadian economist, Stephen Leacock, whose thoughtful essay on “The Woman Question” appeared among his Essays & Literary Studies, about 1916. A man of uncommon fortitude, Leacock patiently explains why women are not suitable for any form of paid employment. After a long list of exempla, he concludes that they are “too crooked, even for business; & even for war, too violent.”

Men, in fine, know where to stop. They alone understand teamwork, & “fair play,” which Leacock defines as “the particular amount of cheating that a man may do under the rules.” Yet even when he seems to stray beyond them, it is only because he is now playing another game. A man, for instance, “may enter the criminal class, either in its lower ranks as a housebreaker, or in its upper ranks, through politics.” Women cannot understand vocation, in this way.

Leacock correctly predicted that after the Great War, women would get the vote; & that men, upon return from the European trenches, would get Prohibition. He further predicted the women’s vote would not lead to many women in Parliament: this because women would never vote for women. They don’t trust them. And it is this very clarity that makes women such a danger to society; this freedom from illusion, that lifts them over & across all masculine boundaries, & thus gives them the advantage in all contests with men. As Doctor Johnson said, “Nature has given women so much power, that the law has very wisely given them little.”

That they are naturally violent, was brought home to us some years ago, at a Czech drinking party, with both sexes in attendance. A muscular Czech gentleman, the son of a prominent symphony conductor as it happened, had also brought a pretty little dog, which we stooped to greet politely. Suddenly we were thrown part way across the room.

Fair enough, we thought, as we came to rest against the leg of a piano. We are not in a familiar Anglo-Saxon environment. Perhaps, with a view to multicultural amity, we should ignore small dogs in the future, when chatting with our Slavic friends.

We rose good-humouredly, taking care not to meet the dog owner’s eyes, lest we trigger a bigger rumble. For this was physical violence of the most superficial kind, to be ignored as misadventure. But as we did not wish to mortify our host, by leaving his party too early, we skirted round the piano, & back towards the bar.

It was as the evening progressed, that we learnt the dark secret, which for the public good we now humbly impart. It came from being spoken to, by friend & stranger alike, about our little altercation. Somehow, everyone had noticed it.

Without exception, every man asked us, mildly & reasonably, “What was that about?”

And without exception, every woman asked: “Why didn’t you hit him back?”

So there you have the key difference between the sexes, statistically proved. Women are more violent.

This thought came to mind as we were listening to an analysis of the second U.S. presidential debate, earlier this week. The two candidates had been unusually forceful, in both word & gesture. The expression “fight night” came to one TV panelist’s lips, & it was suggested that the “town hall” format made the encounter resemble pugilism. There was a moment when Mr Obama had risen from his chair, & Mr Romney “walked him back & sat him down again.” This was taken for an aggressive act, & so, certainly, it looked.

Then came an absurdity. The panelists glibly agreed that Mr Romney’s behaviour would go over well with men, but poorly with women. Women, we were told, prefer the man who is gentle, sensitive, civil & courtly. They do not like it when men get shirty.

Yet, while they were saying this, some twitter comment from a woman flashed by. She said she’d been impressed by Mr Romney, “because he showed no fear.”

We are told too much about women these days, or rather, too little that is true. We have men & women both telling us constantly what women think: the men perhaps ignorant, the women perhaps liars. How wonderful, amid all that stupefying blather, to see an honest woman commenting for a change.