Wednesday, July 12, 2006

One Man's Ideas on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Women

While I was on a tour of historic sites in old New Castle, Delaware, a couple years ago, there was a picture of a whipping post. It was last used in Delaware in 1952, on a man convicted of beating his wife, as I recall. I commented to the tour guide that maybe they shouldn’t have stopped that practice. She responded that I’d be surprised at how many people said that exact same thing. But, you know what, I’m really not.

I’ve known many acquaintances as well as close friends who have suffered physical abuse at the hands of men. I cannot wrap my brain around the evil that exists in a, thankfully, small minority of men who fail to see any wrong in using their greater strength and size to intimidate and physically or sexually abuse those weaker than themselves.

A few weeks ago, Hube had posted about Philly’s pitcher Brett Myers allegedly striking his wife in public. I commented there:
Obviously it’s innocent until proven guilty, but women don’t generally end up crying on street corners with their faces all swollen, claiming their husbands hit them and having witnesses back them up.

What’s most troublesome about this is that this is most assuredly not the first time he’s struck her. Abusers tend to do their abuse privately. Men know they aren’t
supposed to hit women and are not generally stupid enough to do it in public where they can be identified.

Therefore, he most likely has a hot temper and has already broken the taboo against striking women & wife beating.

And if a man hits his wife once, almost invariable he will do so again within five years.

Aside: Delaware used to have a whipping post until about the 50s where men who beat their wives would be whipped. Personally, I have no idea why they stopped that practice.
Apparently, it was that aside that caught the attention of one of Hube’s readers. I received an email from him which I thought worth sharing. Please feel free to discuss the merits or lack thereof of the case as he presents it. I, for one, have seen enough to know that some men have no fear of jail time or police, and need something else to serve as a deterrent to crime against women. Any ideas you can bring to this debate are welcome.

Dear Anna:

I value your comment on the Delaware whipping post. I often think that there is not enough discussion of this topic. I find that many people are in favor of it when they topic is raised. More consciousness-raising of this time-honored, cost effective,
and effective form of correction may be needed.

I see the lash, cane, or leather strap as a good, strong deterrent for men and teenaged boys who physically or sexually abuse women (and for those who are showing themselves to be career criminals who are not deterred by prison alone). Most sex crimes (including date rape, the most common form of rape) against women are committed by young, sexually focused males 16-24 years of age who need a strong deterrent, who could be reformed by such decisive correction early in life, and are physically robust enough to endure such discipline.

I have some admiration of the Singaporean justice system which provides mandatory caning for males, starting at 16 years of age, who are convicted of sexually offending against women. Even those who engage in nonconsensual sexual touching receive a minor caning. I see this as promoting respect for women and stopping problems before they escalate. Because most nations that still employ the lash are developing nations, I like how Singapore shows us that a nation can be modern and still have provision for flogging. And as most people know, the amount
of sex crime is very low and repeating such a crime after having been caned
across the bare backside for it is almost unheard of.

Some women from Singapore educated me on some good reasons for flogging males only, and I have come to see some merit in this. My reasons are as follows:

-it is probably not good for men to get the idea that it is ever okay for a woman to be beaten.
-the male body is better suited to with stand the rigors of corporal punishment.
-males are more likely to commit crimes that deserve flogging.
-exempting women elevates the status of women.
-the pro-woman element to flogging is compromised if women also have to fear
receiving it

Look at this example. Even circus lions can be kept tame and safe when they know there is a whip available that can be used on them. The desire to avoid pain affects the behavior of all mammals. As a man myself, I can tell you the fear of being lashed would keep me in line much more so than would just the fear of going to jail. People think that society has evolved beyond the need for the lash, but have all men evolved beyond the need for this?

If whipping were in use, a man wanting to assault a woman would know he would
also get hurt just like when a man decides not to attack a man whom he thinks can hurt him back badly. Also men need to know that assaulting a woman will not be even close to worth it and he will deeply regret it. Men motivated by sexual
impulses to do forced sex or sexual contact need to know that the pain of the
punishment will far outweigh any pleasure derived from the crime.

I often think we could live in a better society if women felt safer around men and men were safer for women to be around. I also wish for women to feel that justice is
done, that sex crime is blamed on the offender, that rape is taken seriously, and that women are valued by society. I see whipping as helping to achieve these ends and to demonstrate these things -- even when it is trusted men who abuse women, as is often the case.

Whipping also in some ways fits as a consequence for rape. The abuser is stripped down, tied down, and whipped. He would have some sense of what it is like to feel
pain, fear, humiliation, vulnerability, and a helplessness to resist.

I should also state that boys and men sentenced to receive corporal punishment should receive counseling beforehand and afterwards in order to help them find
meaning and growth from the experience rather than bitterness or resentment. Such punishment should be given to reform the offenders not done out of vengeance or hatred. Of course mentally ill offenders should not be whipped, but should
be put in custody while they receive treatment. Whipping should be reserved for the many guys who knew what they were doing, knew it was wrong, and were able to control themselves but chose not to do so. And of course, whipping should occur in addition to a prison term and be administered as humanely as possible with an aim to ensuring no excesses in its use.


At 7/12/2006 9:18 AM, Blogger Paul Smith Jr. said...

I would be against bringing back thw whipping post because I think such violence coarses society when the government is actively involved in promoting such violence and actions.

Now, I have no problem with law enforcement looking the other way if the woman's family and friends feel the need to "explain" to the beater or rapist what are not allowed to be taken against that woman in the future through the use of vigorous example, if you catch my drift. But I think actively condoning or promoting such action may just make the problem worse.

At 7/12/2006 11:38 AM, Blogger William Slawski said...

I found This photo of Delaware's whipping post at the Library of Congress web site a few years ago.

In the last days of the whipping post in Delaware, it was a criminal offense to bring a camera near enough the punishment to take photos. Regardless of the crime, I'm of the belief that if you can't legally photograph a punishment being dealt, then maybe you should have serious doubts about its use.

At 7/12/2006 12:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was the one who composed the orignal posting on the whipping post. Perhaps I neglected to mention that I believe that whippings should be conducted behind prison walls. I think making a spectacle of the process would densentize people to the suffering of another person and might make people more blood thirsty or vindictive. My goal is to offer a form of punishment that prevents most guys from doing wrong in the first place and breaks the ill will of those who do so that they can be reformed and re-enter society with a fresh start. Whipping the offender in public would make it very difficult for him to re-enter society and be a good citizen. He would forever be remembered by some as "that guy I saw get whipped". The loss of dignity and barriers he would face would be an in surmountable barrier to rejoining society in an effective manner.

In response to the comment about a punishment only being acceptable if it can be photographed by ordinary people, I would point out that ordinary people are not allowed (and should not be allowed) to go into prisons and photograph people they don't in their cells.

At 7/12/2006 8:46 PM, Blogger Christopher Taylor said...

I am opposed to hitting women, as that's how I was raised and I know how fragile women can be. I think it's wrong and it shows a weakness of soul and of honor in the man who does it.

But I do know that women can be so annoying, frustrating, and enrageing (is that a word?) that I understand what turns Mr Hand into Mr Fist, to quote Sam Kinison.

At 7/12/2006 9:28 PM, Blogger gutshot said...

Ok, and the same should be true of women who are found to have lied about things such as rape and the like.

According to your generalization, the law should immediately annul his marriage, slap him with a restraining order, and forbid him to ever engage in another relationship.

Listen, I think it's abhorrable to hit a woman. But I think you were unfair in labelling Brett Myers a guy who beats his wife all the time.

We didn't see what happened in the bar in Boston. Maybe he caught her tongue-in-another-dude's-cheek. Maybe she called him something nasty. Maybe she threw a drink in his face in disgust over something. Not that any of that justifies his reaction, but certain actions could provoke a first-time assault. Those details have been left out. That's good, because publicity of the details would hamper any efforts the Myers' might make towards reconciliation. And remember that there's a child too.

I truly hope Brett's learned his lesson. And a whipping in public might elicit the type of shame that could end a wife-beater's control-trip. I just took a little offense to presuming Myers to be a full-fledged scoundrel without even knowing the whole scoop.

At 7/12/2006 9:44 PM, Blogger Anna Venger said...


My, my. Sure women can be annoying. So can men. And small children. Especially small children. But we don't hit just because we get frustrated. Do you say something like that when you hear of some guy or gal who beats a kid or slams his head into a wall? "I know how annoying small children can be..."

I know too many women who have been abused. I'm aware of the stats. In some cases, there's been violence on both sides, sometimes started by the woman but the retaliation comes back with much greater force. (I for one move myself far away during any disagreement with any person that cannot be avoided and try to de-escalate as much as possible.)

I've had male friends who have been on the receiving end too. I'm hardly anti-male. Most of my friends have been male, for Pete's sake.

But I have known too many women who were cowed into submission or more accurately oppression and still would get beaten and threatened--regularly. And that's the kind of thing that especially needs to end. I've known too many women who've been raped too when they've done nothing even remotely enticing so that couldn't even be used as an excuse. (I notice you didn't weigh in on that.)

I don't know what the answer is. I don't pretend to. But I do know the problem is real. I thought it worth a discussion, at least.

At 7/12/2006 9:57 PM, Blogger Anna Venger said...


OK, point taken. But please note that I began with: "Obviously it’s innocent until proven guilty," which I had hoped would leave room for extenuating circumstances. The rest of my comment came from many years of exposure to the stories of those abused based on my intimate relationships with them.

And any woman who is proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have lied about rape ought to go to jail. Oh, yes. It is rare that a woman will press charges and go through all that on a lie, but it's happened, and it's evil to accuse someone wrongly.

I also happen to know over half a dozen women who were victims of violent rapes (in other words there wasn't anything remotely like a date going on) who chose not to report it rather than go through the trauma again and take a chance on justice in court. That doesn't count those whom I know to have been molested as children, either.

At 7/13/2006 12:07 AM, Blogger Christopher Taylor said...

My, my. Sure women can be annoying. So can men. And small children. Especially small children. But we don't hit just because we get frustrated. Do you say something like that when you hear of some guy or gal who beats a kid or slams his head into a wall? "I know how annoying small children can be..."

I guess when I started out saying I thought hitting women was wrong it wasn't sufficient to make the point.

Incidentally: women do hit men when they get annoyed at them, it's not exactly uncommon. You've likely done it. It just doesn't hurt very much because typically women don't learn to hit and aren't really all that dedicated to the idea of hurting someone.

At 7/13/2006 6:57 AM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

"You've likely done it."

Playing around, yes. In anger? Never. Or as I have always told my children: "It's morally wrong to pick on someone smaller than you, and it's STUPID to pick on someone bigger."

At 7/13/2006 7:12 AM, Blogger Anna Venger said...


By the way, please go back and re-read paragraphs two and three of my initial response to you. Based on your "incidentally", I think you may have missed them.

At 7/13/2006 7:31 AM, Blogger gutshot said...

Sorry, Anna. One of the things I get annoyed with is generalizations. Liberals do this all the time. Kinda like in the comments on my site about the DC crime rate/gun laws, they assume that, "If we outlaw citizens carrying guns, we'll get rid of crime." Uh, no, because the extra 90 days in jail (or whatever it is) for carrying a concealed weapon is like a drop in the bucket compared to a couple of life sentences. Just because Joe Average Citizen will obey your control law doesn't mean that Jack Gangbanger is.

If women want to see domestic violence go down, then they need to understand that certain triggers are going to make certain men get pissed. Look at Zidane for the French National Team...a mild-mannered guy headbutted his opponent because of some foul words. If you expect men to behave (which I also think they should), then women need to learn not to push the buttons that will incite the feelings that cause the fight-or-flight mechanism and end up in a bloody mess on the floor.

At 7/13/2006 1:08 PM, Blogger Christopher Taylor said...

No, Anna I was simply reinforcing what you said about women beating men. My brother had an abusive wife, she was large and very strong. It's something men don't talk about much, because it's shameful to be beat up by a girl, in so many words. That and it's almost impossible to win a court case over.

My point was simply that while it's wrong to hit women, one must keep in mind that sometimes women do things that bring a negative reaction on themselves. It's not always just the mean brute man beating up on a helpless, poor innocent woman.

As I've commented before on your blog several times, I think violence against people who are unjust, cruel, and violent is not wrong. In other words, the guy who beats up a woman ought to be beat to soup himself by any gentleman nearby.

Just don't be fooled into thinking women never push men to the point of irrationality, just like as you said men can push women to that point as well... or children can push parents.

Violence is a tool, like a shovel or a ready capacity for logic. It should be used only in the appropriate setting, such as war or to defend the weak. It would be equally stupid to use a shovel to dial the phone as it would be to beat a child or a woman because they were really, really annoying.

I understand that for women this is a very touchy subject, particularly if you or someone close has been battered. I should have been more careful or thoughtful in how I approached my point.

At 7/13/2006 1:28 PM, Blogger Anna Venger said...


OK and I thought it was a very odd comment coming from you whom I've grown to trust. I don't think a woman is justified in hitting men either. Hitting is wrong. (Why do I feel like I'm in kindergarten?) But when I know so very many women who have been on the receiving end of some neanderthal's fist (is that inflammatory to neanderthals?) while not being remotely the kind of person who could set off even the most unstable of souls, you can understand perhaps why your comment stung.


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