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Should a man raise his hand to a woman?

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Kimberly Thompson | kthompson@radford.edu 

When you hear a story about a guy hitting a girl, what pops into your head? Is it “I can’t believe he hit her?” or maybe it’s “why was she hitting him to begin with?” Whatever it is, I want to present the dilemma of “is it wrong or right for a guy to hit a girl, or does it all depend on the situation?”

When I was younger, I was taught that men should never hit women, or for that matter even raise a hand to a woman. Even if a woman were to hit him first, the only thing that a man was allowed to do was restrain her, but never to hit her back. I think the reason I was taught this was because in olden times, a woman was never considered equal to a man, and a man was always stronger than a woman. People believed that a man could harm a woman more than a woman could harm a man.

Since times have changed and we know that women can be as strong as or stronger than a man, is it ethically right for a man to hit a woman back if she was to hit him?

After talking to a few people, the responses that I gathered were different. When asked, freshman Alex Helm said, “A guy should never hit a girl,” and when I asked him why he felt that way he said, “They just aren’t supposed to. It’s not what guys do.” Sophomore Shawn Black felt the same way. He stated, “It’s just not the way guys are supposed to act, and I was just taught not to, so it’s just ingrained in my head.”

I also asked two women, and junior Anne Tatum Wright felt that “hitting a woman is one of the worse things a guy can do to a woman, and it is a very ungentlemanly thing to do.” Sophomore Virginia Ketterman felt that “a man is allowed to retain a woman if she is slapping him or something, but not allowed to punch or slap her back.” When I asked both of the girls why they felt this way, they responded with the same answer: “it’s just the wrong way to handle the situation.”

Taking the perspective of ethical subjectivism, we can say that it may be okay for a guy to hit a woman back if she can overpower him. We can also say that it’s never right for a guy to hit a woman. It may be right in one person’s eyes, but not in another’s. Using ethical subjectivism we are allowed to just simply agree to disagree and that what is right for you and works in your life is not what is right and works for me.

With this dilemma, I am not sure where I stand. I completely understand all sides to it and can make pros and cons for both. For me personally I just think that it all depends on the circumstances of the situation and the details of what is going on. If a woman is bigger than the man and is hitting him for no logical reason and the only way that the man can get away from the situation, it makes sense to me is that he would push or hit her so he could leave. I’m not saying that a woman that is smaller in size to a man could never be able to defend herself against a man like that, it just all depends.

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