Yesterday, I showed a friend a small scar on a knuckle on my right hand. I got the scar in 1983 when I knocked the two front teeth out of a guy who came up behind me, trying to knock me down. He said something along the lines of about to commit a rape or mugging. He didn't get the chance. When he was down on the ground after I punched him, I told him that I would kick his brains all over the nearby roadway.
True, it was bravado in a sense but I would have done it just as I punched him during the initial assault. My grandfather, an amateur boxer, taught his daughters and granddaughters how to defend themselves believing that women needed to know. He was right. My would-be attacker got up and ran off. My hand was a bloody mess; two teeth were protruding from the knuckle. I reported the incident to the police, went to the hospital for shots, bandaging and had to follow-up with the doctor several times. I was unable to use the hand for a few months and the injury was quite painful.
I had to explain what happened to a few of my colleagues (I was teaching at the time so I was asked why all the gauze and tape)and the most interesting reaction I had was from a few guys who thought it was very "butch" of me to have punched my attacker's front teeth out.
It continues to amaze me that even now if a woman is able to physically defend herself and/or asserts herself so that she is not walked all over, she is classified as being "butch" or something less than a lady. Of course, being called "butch" implies you are a lesbian. I am not. It doesn't offend being called "butch" as much as it offends me that being called butch is intended to be a negative thing - an attack on my feminity. There's nothing negative about being a lesbian and there is nothing negative about being able to take care of yourself. Frankly, I am the kind of woman who would prefer having a man take care of me but that is a choice, not a necessity. I consider the "taking care of" part romantic and not a sign of inability or weakness.
So in the minds of more people than I would like to admit (including some women), it is more feminine to allow people to walk over you or try to physically hurt you. Feminine means weak and pliable. Still after all these years of the sex wars, the debates and endless talk about men and women, we are still light years apart in understanding what the roles are and how the minds work.
A friend gave me a shirt at the time of the Great Punch that said:
Lovely to look at
Lovely to hold
But if you touch me
I'll knock you cold.
It was funny at the time but then I thought it implied that I minded if a guy touched me. Well, no, certainly not but I do mind if a guy tries to tackle me on the street swearing and threatening me all the while.
But that's just me.