The other day I caught a segment on the today show regarding public verbal and physical assault between couples and how bystanders would react. They discuss the difference between most of the public response to Solange/Jay Z on the elevator vs. Ray Rice and his wife. For the former there was laughter and an SNL skit, for the latter, there was outrage and what appeared to be more of a hunt to punish athletes who had assault charges pending.
In the segment they showed fake scenarios where a man was verbally assaulting a woman and then visa versa. In the first, people intervened to stop it. In the second, people did nothing, some took photos and recordings and one even joined helping to hit the guy when the woman was hitting him. It is clear as a culture we have a different standard for violence when it comes to men and women (I’d even venture into race but I’ll save that for another day).
So what does that mean? Is it right to let women go around assaulting people unchecked? If there was a video of Syrena Williams kicking her man or knocking him out with her shoe (or whatever) and then getting her bodyguard to drag his body out the elevator would she be suspended from tennis? Even if she was defending herself against his aggression?
How much should we get involved if we see verbal/physical assault? Is it none of our business? I remember some friends and I were out one night and we saw this couple arguing. She was storming away and he kept following her. This went on for a while and she looked extremely upset and he was not leaving her alone. Eventually, one of my friends went up to her and asked if she was ok and needed any help. The woman kind of brushed her off like she didn’t want to be bothered. I feel like my friend was being a good human being and the fact that this woman didn’t want her help is irrelevant. Whether you are the couple involved in the argument/fight or not, we as a society need to stand up against it all. All types.
This includes letting the victim know that we don’t approve either. As support and also as a message that violence is not an action our culture is tolerant of no matter who the aggressor is and how the victim chooses to react to it.