Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Basketball and the Bike

It's been a long time since I've written an article here, but something's come up that I cannot keep silent on, and that's the video of the boy throwing the basketball at a girl's bike. For those who haven't seen the video, I'll provide a synopsis as I'd really rather not feed it any more views than it's gotten already.

What Had Happened Was...

A boy is bouncing a basketball in his driveway as a couple of girls are riding their bikes on the opposite side of the street. He calls out "Hey ladies!" and one of the girls responds "F*** you." The boy then throws the basketball and strikes the girl's front tire, stopping the bike and tossing the girl head-first into the ground. There's a few more seconds after this where the girl who was knocked over sobs and the other girl comes back to confront the boy, saying she's going to kick his ass, but the video cuts out before they get close to one another.

Incredulous-looking girl
Wait what?

Now, I'm not going to say that the girl was in the right for telling him "F*** you." I'm also not going to say that she's in the wrong. For all we know, this kid has a history of harassing these girls, and her responding with "F*** you," while maybe crude, is not unfounded. The bottom line is, it doesn't matter what, if anything, she said to him. This video would be just as problematic if she hadn't said anything, or if she had just said "hey," or if she had said something worse than she did.

The problem is the boy's attitude. The fact that he feels it's somehow OK to react with violence when verbally rebuked is wrong. There's absolutely no scenario where it's ok to react with physical violence after somebody says something to you. If the genders were reversed, or if they were both the same gender, this would be just as awful.

But Wait, There's More!

The boy's behavior is just the tip of the shittiness iceberg. If you go to any of the pages that have this video up, or to any article regarding it, you'll find plenty of comments defending this boy. "No reason to say 'F*** you'" one Youtube commenter wrote. Another says "Right if you're going to be a rude b**** expect this." A newspaper even thought it was a good idea to take a poll to determine whose side people are on, as if this was just some pointless argument about which way the toilet paper roll is supposed to be hung in the bathroom1 or which football team deserves to win the game next monday.

Screenshot of poll
41% of us are apparently terrible people.
photo source: New York Daily News

And what's worse is the fact that the results are so close! Seriously? 41% of us think that physical assault is an appropriate response to being rebuked when catcalling? We're on the cusp of the Back to the Future trilogy taking place entirely in the past, and we're still treating violence against women like it's not only acceptable, but to be expected?

Like A Broken Record

Unfortunately, this isn't anything new. We've had several cases of men attacking women because the women refused their advances. Hell, we've had some mass shootings where the shooter was a man who felt entitled to women's bodies and attention and decided that violence was the correct response when they didn't get it. We keep seeing the same symptom manifest itself over and over and over, but nobody wants to talk about treating the cause.

It's time we confront this issue head on. It's time we stop coddling the man-children and assuaging their fragile misconception of masculinity. We need to start taking a stand and saying that this is NOT how a man acts. What this boy did in the video is called assault, and it's a crime. It is not cute, it is not funny, and it is not tolerable. If any "man" says otherwise, then I say that they are not men, just overgrown boys with fragile egos.

1 It's overhand, by the way. You savages.

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