a little east of reality

Friday, August 26, 2005

there ain't nothing like a dame

This was originally part of the Sin City movie review, but it's such a tangent I thought I'd give it a little posting space of its own.

There's another theme that runs right through the movie and it centres on two kinds of men - those who hurt women and those that help them (one of each to the left). It’s not that Sin City women are defenceless as such ~ the women in Old Town are far from it! ~ but rather that the author sees them as something precious that should be protected rather than harmed, respected rather than insulted. There’s a very sweet, old-fashioned notion being played out – that women have a greater capacity for love and therefore for hurt, and so to abuse them is to crush what is best in them; their openness and compassion.

Is it crazy that I like this? Logically I know that to act like a woman needs your protection is to imply that she is weak or can’t handle her own crap. So the idea IS sexist. But there is a part of me that mourns the loss of true old-school chivalry – and with it the idea that a real man doesn’t hit women. Ever.

I think that’s actually the key.

Because the truth is that there are still men in the world who will hit a woman because she is a woman. What she says or does is not really relevant – anything can be turned into a reason. They deliberately target her as someone that should be repressed, subjugated and controlled. For men like that, hitting or humiliating women is a very direct way to teach them that they are not precious at all, and that this lack of worth in based on them being female (implying by extension that his superiority is based on being male).

So on the flip side of that coin is the realisation that a man who will not hit a woman, in any circumstance, is acknowledging that he has no right to that kind of control. Even the super-old-fashioned guys who come from the generation that really believes a wife should obey her husband; even they, if they refuse to hit a woman, are setting limits on the control they can or should have over any woman. They reinforce the idea that women are inherently special. It’s pretty hard to be offended by that, when the opposite attitude – that women are inherently worthless – is still out there alive and well in our own societies even now.