Jesurgislac’s Journal

August 6, 2008

We’re afraid of being killed.

This morning, on Farningham Road station in Kent, at 7am, three regular commuters met again: a woman aged 58, and two young men:

One of the men was described as white, in his mid 20s, and about 6ft, with a stocky build. He had short cropped brown hair and was wearing beige shorts, a green round-necked T-shirt and trainers.
The other man was white and in his early 20s with a medium build, bright red shorts and a dark top. BBC

Smoking is banned on all train platforms throughout the UK since July 2007. The two men were smoking, as apparently they did habitually: another regular commuter had seen the woman speak to them about this on Monday or Tuesday.

The woman was walking up the platform to catch a London-bound train. She passed the two men. Witnesses say there was a “scuffle”… (The Times) and they pushed her on to the railway line.

She missed the live third rail, 750 volts, by inches. The lone member of staff got the power turned off and pulled her from the line (The Telegraph), and she’s now in hospital with minor burns and a broken wrist, but the police are investigating this as attempted murder.

Now here’s some reactions to this from the British wingnuts on the Times website:

“While it is a terrible crime that these youths have committed, I don’t see why people need to interfere in other peoples’ lives. If people want to smoke, they know the risks on their health and that they could get fined if there is a no smoking sign and if they want to risk the penalty, let them.”
“Dog eat dog. Smokers have been walked all over, so why shouldn’t they do it to others. Contempt breeds contempt. Sensible Germans are showing us the way.”
[Someone who didn’t witness the incident said the woman was pregnant. While not absolutely impossible, the woman’s age is confirmed by several reports and there’s been no other reference to it. I think the reason for asserting this is that there’s just one acceptable reason why a woman can tell a man what to do] “I’m assuming that if she was pregnant she was simply asking them not to smoke near her for the sake of her unborn child.”
“Until thugs like this know what it is to experience fear and feel pain, nothing will change. The Isle of Man used to have the right idea – Birching. Perhaps it is now time for a national debate on ‘Punishment to fit the Crime.'”
“Why ban smoking on an open air platform in the first place and why try and enforce a silly law in the first place???
Especially when it’s not your job and your pregnant and have the safety of your child to worry about.”
“This is a turn about. Usually smokers are in real physical danger from rabid, hate mongering anti-smoker’s who are often verbally abusing them. People have learned to HATE smoker’s to the point of walking across an open field outdoors to say their smoking is bothering them.” (This is actually an American wingnut.)
“Not only should these youths be punished (if caught) but also the parents for raising them to have no respect to other people or the law.”
“Not so long ago the following was published:
POLICE chief has urged the public to be ‘have-a-go heroes’.
Northumbria Police’s chief constable, Mike Craik, said ordinary people should challenge rowdy behaviour, such as drinking or swearing, to improve society.
So now we see what happens.”

Men attacking a woman because the woman has presumed to tell them what to do is nothing new. The raving (which I mostly didn’t quote) on the Times website about how “youth of today” are insolent and rowdy, is just classic crap.

Most of the commenters who respond to the “How dare she tell them what to do” recognise that these are ugly comments. And there may be a part of it with nicotine addicts reacting nastily to a curtailment of their ability to smoke on a station platform. (All the nicotine addicts I know personally actually supported the ban on smoking, because it made it easier for them to cut down on their smoking – which all of them had been trying to do for years.) But at root, I think this is men resenting the idea that a woman – any woman – can tell them what to do.

The whole men under siege nonsense which Zoe Williams ably deconstructs is part of the “pity me, I’m losing my privilege” mindset which Publius takes down with My One and Only Post About the Stupidest Phrase in Politics: “the animosity of the aggrieved. They feel like they are the victims.” Men who feel like victims when they no longer have as much male privilege as they were brought up to expect: whites who feel like victims when they no longer have as much white privilege as they were brought up to expect. (If you are unfamiliar with the concepts “male privilege”, “white privilege”, etc, click on the links before you do a kneejerk rejection.)

A woman. A woman nearly sixty, probably not “attractive” to these two men over thirty years her junior. A woman, telling them what to do, acting as if she had a right to tell them to obey publicly posted rules. An uppity, ugly, bitch.

Margaret Atwood wrote that when she asked a male friend why men feel threatened by women, he answered, “They are afraid women will laugh at them.” When she asked a group of women why they feel threatened by men, they said, “We’re afraid of being killed.”



  1. Or raped. Or both.

    Comment by lowly_adjunct — August 7, 2008 @ 6:55 pm | Reply

  2. I disagree with your contention that this is the specific case that proves the broad generalization.

    All men hate women enough to nearly kill them (or rape them, per adjunct) when told what to do? Really, I don’t know that there’s enough information to make the call on what happened.

    Further, people online are jerks. Including the last two people you quoted that seem to be supporting your point.

    Comment by Spherical Time — August 10, 2008 @ 12:21 am | Reply

  3. Hello Jesurgislac,

    I agree completely with you in that there is no excuse whatsoever for the men’s throwing the woman onto the tracks. Not even if she had addressed them rudely or even cursed them. Any sort of victim-blaming turns my stomach.

    If they felt it was their privilege as men to do that, they are both wrong and stupid. But the main issue here has nothing to do with gender or race. Crime is crime, assault is assault and attempted murder is attempted murder, no matter what the victim did to offend the attackers. (At most, under extreme provocation [attempted] murder can be punished as [attempted] voluntary manslaughter, but still the criminal gets many years in prison.)

    Maybe victim-blaming is especially prevalent for sex crimes. But having been bullied and attacked multiple times, entirely non-sexually, in school and elsewhere, I’ve put up with “And what did you say that made them mad at you?” “You should put things exactly where they belong next time” and “Who’s the constant in this situation? You” enough to turn my stomach to this day.

    All too many people just want to blame victims – including when everyone involved is white and male – likely so they can continue to feel that the world is basically just.


    Jeff Deutsch

    Comment by Jeffrey Deutsch — August 17, 2008 @ 6:12 pm | Reply

  4. Men are not afraid of successful women. They are afraid of abuse toward them by society, including women who may perceive men to be weak in some way. The nineteenth century belief Males should be strong allows aggression toward Males who appear weak in some way. Society provides love, honor, respect, support, etc. (the essentials for feelings of self-worth only on the condition of sufficient achievement, money, power, status, and image. Those Males who do not have sufficiency are not only given less love, honor, and respect, they are allowed upon them more aggression by society. This makes men very competitive for they feel they must achieve in order to have those things.
    Added the nineteenth century belief Males should be strong that allow much more aggression toward Males and also the denial from day one of mental, emotional, social support from day one (for fear of coddling the Male) and you have Males falling behind Females mentally, emotionally, socially, academically, and economically.

    Women, due to the nineteenth century belief woman should be protected are given love, honor, and respect simply for being women. The nineteen century belief they should be protected also allows for much mental, emotional, social support, to only “appear to mature faster than Males”. By differential treatment Females are surging ahead. In addition that very overprotection by society allows women to give verbal, silent abuse, and hollow kindness or patronization with impunity. The combination of allowed aggressions upon Males who appear weak in some way, lack of support for Males, more than adequate support for Females, and the protected freedoms of various allowed verbal and nonverbal abuse by women makes a Male who appears weak in some way quite vulnerable to more abuse from successful women and more also from society. Complete theory to all

    Comment by rick lynn — November 18, 2008 @ 9:29 pm | Reply

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