For some reason I have acquired a Facebook friend who is a right wing American woman from somewhere in the Midwest. She posted a video the other day entitled something like “When They Ban Spanking.” It shows a cellphone video of a kid having a temper tantrum in the back seat of a minivan. It’s the Terrible Twos on steroids, believe me, and it goes on and on. But the kid is six or seven years old.
The comments from this woman and her friends are all about how this kid needs to be punished. The wooden spoon is mentioned by several, and the word “whupped” comes into play frequently. One brags how her father only had to whup her once, and she was good from then on.
I posted a comment that this child was obviously emotionally disturbed, and physical violence was probably the last thing he needed at that moment. I was ignored, while these commenters, all women, continued to glorify the need for violence.
I wanted to write again and give the opinion that they were a bunch of violent people, teaching their children to be violent, and that this was why the US is in the state it’s in. But I didn’t, because they wouldn’t have understood and I don’t want to attract the online ire of that sort of person.
Instead, I’m passing this along to my readers, most of whom will understand.
An Older Example
And now I’m going to jump to a different medium and remind you of “The Way of All Flesh,” a 19th century novel by Samuel Butler. The main story that I remember from this book is of a father who is a terrible bully and treats his young son in that horrible Victorian way that assumed children were essentially bad and had to have the evil beaten out of them. When the child stutters, he is considered to be doing it on purpose, thus justifying punishment.
Then this young fellow grows up and has a son of his own. And does he treat the lad with compassion and encouragement, remembering how horrible his own father was to him? No, he does not. He commits exactly the same kind of brutality. This is “the way of all flesh.”
What I hope you can take away from these two examples is that only the youngest children are completely innocent. You can blame your upbringing all you like for the sins you commit, but when you become an adult you become responsible for what you do, especially to your children. And if there are a great many men out there who exhibit hate for women, and if we are looking for ways to break the cycle of abuse that causes their hatred, then we dare not ignore the fact that all of us, of both genders, harbour the seeds of violence, implanted by our experience in early life. The women from the Facebook page I mentioned were perfect examples. The chances are good that their children will grow up knowing that might makes right, and that’s the way of the world.
Reminding me of the parent of one of my students, who proudly informed me, “I just throw the hairbrush down on the living room floor and tell them that as long as I’m bigger than them, they’ll do what I say.”
I looked at her 5-foot-two height, and then at her chunky ten-year-old son’s growing frame, and realized that it was far too late to say anything that would make any difference.
And why is the American woman still my friend on Facebook? Something to do with keeping your friends close and your enemies closer, I guess. Besides, no matter how I dislike what I hear from this group, I have to keep listening with a bit of sympathy. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out how these women learned about “whupping.”