Yesterday, in my — Muslim Women Conundrum — article, I lamented the fact that the women dropped a class I was teaching because of their fear of being touched by a man.  Commenter “nosleepingdog” said this, in the replies stream:

We should remember though that the ultimate enforcers of these strictures are Islamic men. A woman who is accused of having deliberately put herself in a position where a man might touch her, may be beaten, disowned, raped, or killed. Very logical. Does make one wonder. Even questioning the authority of the rules and the enforcers is a crime.

That point made me think about the real roots of this masked problem of oppression, and I recalled a story my wife shared with me this week that draws a deeper, and more widespread — and certainly more pernicious! — example of how men have, and still do, try to actively control women.  Even women they do not know.

One of my wife’s NYC female college undergraduates told her this story the other night. The student was walking down Broadway alone late at night and a male stranger — perhaps a homeless guy, she wasn’t sure — came up behind her and grabbed her ponytail where it met her head and “walked” behind her.

He would not let go of her hair.  He was holding her ponytail so tight against her head it felt like he was “using a plunger” in her brain as he moved his hand to control her body through her head.

She was crying for help, but the streets were empty.  No one wanted to hear her.  Nobody on the street responded to her.

The guy had such a tight hold on her hair that she could not move or swivel around to fight back, and he used his fist, and her ponytail, like a horse’s reins to propel her forward into walking and to control her lateral movement. After about five blocks, he let her go, and she ran home.

That story is wrong in every way against the jerk who grabbed her hair — but we both know there will be some who read that story and blame the female student… for being out alone… for being out late at night… for wearing her hair in a ponytail… for not praying hard enough for God’s protection…

We have to punish the instigator of the abuse — not just the ending, acted, residue of it — and we must work harder together to find a way to help uprooted women who are pressed into dropping a class out of fear, and we need to race to the side of young females in the street who are hanged by their own hair in the public square without witness.

Posted by David Boles

David Boles was born in Nebraska and his MFA is from Columbia University in the City of New York. He is an Author, Lyricist, Playwright, Publisher, Editor, Actor, Designer, Director, Poet, Producer, and Boodle Boy for print, radio, television, film, the web and the live stage. With more than 50 books in print, David continues to write 2MM words a year. He has authored over 25K articles and published more. Read the Prairie Voice Archive at Boles.com | Buy his books at David Boles Books Writing & Publishing | Earn the world with David Boles University | Get a script doctored at Script Professor | Touch American Sign Language mastery at Hardcore ASL.

7 Comments

  1. Scary story, David. It is outright disturbing what people will do that is then blamed on the victim instead of the perpetrator.

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    1. The historical originator is where we must look to place the blame and then infuse a fix.

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  2. Nobody helped her! What a gross story. She was lucky she got away with her life. I bet she was a lot smaller than he was, too, making it super hard to fight back or get any leverage.

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    1. Unanswered cries for help in the New York night brings back bad memories of Kitty Genovese:

      http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/serial_killers/predators/kitty_genovese/1.html

      The student was a lot smaller than her “attacker” — by several feet — bullies like that never pick on people their own size or larger. They always look down for doling out their punishment.

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  5. […] random cheapness of life never stoops to conquer me — be it walking down the street and having your ponytail grabbed, or the spontaneous, but inchoate, ambush of a police office in Orange, or even murder at Ivy […]

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