Aggression and women

A new paper is out on women and aggression. They cite movie examples and use the audience reaction as how society is condoning violence in women. I think however, that they’ve chosen some poor samples for their point. In particular, I find the example of Hermione hitting Malfoy as a poor example of women and increasing violence. Malfoy is an evil character in the story. Do we want to teach our daughters that they can defend themselves against evil or are they supposed to be victims and wait for someone else to rescue them?

I’ll admit that my daughter was in one fight in school. In second grade she was being bullied. The school was unwilling to do anything since the bully was the son of the PTA president. My daughter was afraid to go to the first day of third grade. When we talked about it, it came down to the bully. We set up some guidelines for behaviour. The first time he hit her, she was to tell him to stop. The second time, she was to go get a teacher and have the adult intervene. The third time, she could hit him back. We specified hitting, no kicking, no punching – invoke the golden rule (hit him in the manner he hit her). She went to school empowered and relieved to know that she didn’t have to be a victim.

During lunch recess I got a telephone call from the new principal. She was disappointed to have to deal with a fight on her first day of school. My response was “How many times did (the bully) hit my daughter before she hit back?” The principal asked me to hold and in a few minutes came back on, apologized to me for bothering me since she didn’t realize that this had been an ongoing bullying situation and she agreed that my daughter had defended herself quite well. She was the first person (child or adult) who had stood up to this child. He left her alone following his receipt of a black eye. In fact, that one incident was so impressed on the young man’s mind that 2 years later, in 5th grade, the teacher asked if we as parents would give our permission to sit the bully next to our daughter since he had a problem with keeping his hands to himself and would harass other children. She had noticed he gave our daughter respect that he wouldn’t give the others. We explained “the rules of engagement” and she agreed. The seating arrangement worked extremely well. The bully kept his hands to himself and my daughter didn’t have any problems.

I do feel that women are more aggressive than in past ages but I also think that we have the ability to use that newfound ability to stop being victims while waiting for that white knight to come in and rescue us. We need to be empowered but not become bullies ourselves. It’s a fine line but it is important to know that we are not incapable of taking care of ourselves when presented with violence.

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