Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll seeks to make the world safe for PUNCHING DOWN. She writes:

A co-worker of mine from long ago stood 6’4” and weighed in at about 240 pounds of mostly muscle. He said that in his late teens and early twenties he and his buddies would often ride around to bars in neighboring suburbs and small towns looking for a fight. It was the ’50s, no weapons were involved, and the fight usually ended with the first bloody nose or split lip. Just bored young men with a lot of testosterone, phony ID, and not a lot to do.

He said he won all but a couple of fights, largely because he was too stubborn to fall down, and he quit the pointless exercise when he got engaged. But he told me something that stuck with me. He said the worst guy to fight was somebody considerably smaller than he was. He called this “The No-Win Situation.” He said, “If I cleaned the guy’s clock, the whole bar would turn on me for picking on a little guy, even if he was drunk, obnoxious and clearly started it. And if he ambushed me and knocked me around a bit before I got in a punch, the crowd would still cheer for him as the underdog wailin’ on the big guy. I could not win.”

Apparently, while I wasn’t paying attention, this No-Win Situation got formalized into a prohibition against “punching down.” A strict pecking order got established that I did not get to vote on and anybody who takes on someone from a lower rung of that order – physically, certainly, but even verbally or ideologically – is guilty of punching down. What a load of crap!

In practice, what this means is that a gossip-mongering, nasty dingbat with double-digit SAT scores, a leaky facelift and a silly, flirty publicity picture can say anything she wants about anyone, including the President of the United States. She has a job solely because of nepotism, and a Great Big Daily Megaphone. But if the President says anything snarky back, he is punching down, sexist, undignified, impeachable.

I strongly disagree. And as a small, late-late-middle aged female with a bum shoulder, I should come under the umbrella of punching down protection as much as anyone who isn’t also gay, Muslim, black, transgender or illegal.

For many years, it was considered high humor in movies for a woman to slap a man in the face, sucker-punch him, or kick him in the crotch. These were not women who were either superheroes, or in any way abused in the plots, who were bravely defending themselves. These were just ordinary women who were mad at the men in their lives and felt they could slap, punch and kick without consequence. I could give dozens of examples. It was probably so common, almost obligatory, for a time there that you didn’t even notice it.

Not only was this spectacularly unfunny and predictable, it also gave a dangerous and misleading impression to women of what could happen next in the real world.

After some thoroughly nauseating examples of domestic violence caught on video, there have been several campaigns saying, “Never hit women.” Never, never, never. Okay. Fair dinkum. Who could disagree? But why aren’t women also told never to hit men? Not only because they will lose in the end if it all goes south, but because it is just as wrong even though they probably cannot hurt a man quite as badly. That darned testosterone advantage!

When I lived in San Francisco, even with our massive white privilege we had no car and I took the trolley everywhere I went. On one particular line I took to work there was a wacky middle-aged woman who was a frequent passenger. She would come up to random strangers and yank their hair, yelling, “I pull hair!” Not encountering any resistance, she later escalated to punching. (A lesson, that…)

I was 25 years old and 8 months pregnant when she decided it was my turn. I had gotten to my feet – itself no small accomplishment — preparing to get off the trolley when she got in my face and punched me in the belly, saying her usual “I punch people!” mantra. I had lost two babies before this pregnancy and I was in no mood to take a punch to the stomach. I hit her square in the chest with the heel of my hand and knocked her into, and almost over, an empty seat, saying, “Well, I punch BACK, you (bad word) lunatic!” In truth, so terrified was I for my baby, I wanted to keep punching, but I just hit her the once.

I wish we had had picture-taking cellphones back then because the look on her face was priceless. Yes, she was probably “crazy” – as though that automatically excuses all rotten behavior — but not so irrational that she was incapable of absorbing a lesson. She was totally shocked that anyone fought back. I cannot certify that she stopped this behavior for good, but whenever she saw me, she moved as fast and as far away from me as she could get. And she never hit another person again in my presence.

Clearly, in general, we do not hit back children, the mentally-challenged, the elderly, even if they hit us first. (These are, in fact, some of the targets for the odious “Knock-out Game” popularized in the Obama era and given scant attention in the media because the wrong people were doing the punching.) Civilized people didn’t need to be lectured not to do this. Probably 99 percent of American men have never hit a female in their lives, if you don’t count sisters. But the notion that you can’t criticize women, after fifty years of feminism yapping about how equal (or superior) women are in all things is ludicrous and embarrassing.

Take Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi– PULEEZE. Sorry, Henny. These awful women are in very powerful positions and at least one is a billionaire. To declare a “no-go” zone from pointing out that one has a Carter-era speed limit IQ and the other would be a good poster girl for dementia may seem merciful, gallant, even. But that mercy is misplaced. They should not be exempted from criticism just for being stupid, female and/or black. They punch viciously and continuously, expecting, like the woman on the trolley, like the women in those movies, to get a perpetual free pass. They have designer handbags stuffed with Race Cards and Sex Cards to play whenever anyone does fight back. There are no expiration dates on these prized cards ever.

Here’s what I believe with all my heart: There is no such thing as punching “down.” A punch is a punch and if you punch me first, there is a very good chance you will be punched back. As comedian Ron White would say, “I’ve seen me do it.”

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