Here’s a video of a woman name Lisa Alyounes attacking her boyfriend on the subway. A passenger taped the whole thing that lasts for over eight minutes. Alyounes punches, hits, slaps, kicks and spits on the man who never once responds in any way except to turn away from her blows. Throughout the exhibition, she carries on a monologue about why she’s battering him, and the reason turns out to be that he “cheated.” Apparently a passenger called the police and waiting for them to arrive means that the train can’t get under way, to the dismay of several of the passengers. Interestingly, not a single passenger lifts a finger to intervene or to try to convince Alyounes that she shouldn’t be battering her boyfriend. (Would the passengers have acted the same if it had been a man hitting his girlfriend?) Eventually the police arrive, take both parties off the train, handcuff Alyounes and take her off to jail, but not before she assaults the male officer.
This article tells us that Alyounes pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to four months hard time in county lockup (WestDeptfordPatch, 4/27/12). She also has to take anger management classes and stay away from the man she attacked.
By itself, the incident is in no way remarkable. Oh, the fact that it happened in public is noteworthy. The utter failure of the passengers on the train to do or say anything to stop the attack certainly bears mentioning, but all in all, the crime was of no great import. There are, however, one or two things that caught my eye.
The first is that Alyounes clearly feels completely justified in battering a non-resisting man. She announces loudly and clearly that she’s doing it because he cheated. I’d like to suggest that that’s learned behavior on her part. From the dawn of the domestic violence movement, we’ve been told that “there’s no excuse for domestic abuse,” but that was never true. The DV establishment always assumed that only men committed domestic violence and only women were victimized. With that understanding, DV activists could loudly pronounce that there was no excuse for DV, but as soon as we learned that women are as likely to attack their intimate partners as are men, the excuses for DV came fast and furiously. From John Bobbit’s girlfriend (he liked rough sex) and Mary Winkler (he hit her), all the way up to Katherine Kieu Becker (he had a lover), there seems to be an inexhaustible supply of excuses for women’s battering, murder and sexual mutilation of men.
And of course Hollywood’s sails have been quick to catch the prevailing winds. The films like Thelma and Louise that at least find female-on-male violence acceptable or in some cases glorify it, are too numerous to mention. And who could forget the infamous edition of the daytime TV show ‘The Talk’ in which audience and panel alike cheered Katherine Becker’s sexual mutilation of her husband. Panelist Sharon Osbourne found the bloody deed “Quite fabulous” while Becker herself told police “he deserved it.”
And that is what I mean when I say that Alyounes’ attack on her boyfriend was learned behavior. Everything from pop culture to the DV establishment itself either enthusiastically embraces or frankly condones female violence against men. I think Lisa Alyounes got the message. He cheated, so it’s OK to attack him. Why would she think differently?
I think the same thing about her boyfriend – that his behavior too was learned. Watching the video, I was astonished at his complete refusal to defend himself in any way. I’m a lawyer and I know that no one has to sit still and allow another person to beat him. Everyone has a right to defend themselves. But this young man clearly didn’t think he did. Alyounes is neither large nor strong. He could easily have stood up and, every time she threw a punch or kick, simply blocked it and/or shoved her away. She’d have been harmed in no way, but he would have avoided her many blows and into the bargain, maintained some semblance of personal integrity. But he didn’t, and I’m willing to guess why.
I think he, like she, has learned from popular culture and the DV establishment that any form of physical contretemps between a man and a woman is automatically considered the man’s fault. Therefore, to stay out of the hands of the law, he believed that he could literally not lift a finger against her. My guess is that, since he was in a public place, he figured he was even more at risk since someone would have interpreted anything he did as aggression against her. He might have been wrong about that, because, by the time the police arrived, commentary from the person filming the incident and others near her was all in favor of arresting Alyounes. Whatever the case, the young man sat there and took it even though the law and common decency allow him to at least fend off her attacks.
Finally, it must be said that the articles about the incident, her arrest, guilty plea and sentencing, never once mention the words “domestic violence.” That’s what it is because the pair were boyfriend and girlfriend at the time it happened, but no one seemed to notice. It’s part of societal blindness about the most basic facts about domestic violence. Experienced journalists can look at such a video and not recognize domestic violence when it stares them in the face. So they don’t call the thing by its proper name, and that encourages ignorance and blindness by others who might otherwise have a little light click on about the realities of DV in this country.