Have You Ever Slapped Anybody? [Hitting Men: Art or Abuse?]

by Charlotte on July 20, 2011 · 33 comments

Hitting a woman is not cool and hasn’t been socially acceptable in quite a few decades (see: Chris Brown/Rihanna scandal) but ever since Scarlett slapped Rhett Butler, girls slapping men has been made out to be not only okay but even ladylike, appropriate and, yes, cool. (Okay, let’s be honest: Scarlett slapped just about everybody in that movie from Ashley to Rhett a couple of times and even poor Prissy “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies, Miss Scarlett!!!”) Why is it acceptable for a woman to hit a man when the reverse is widely considered abhorrent?

The Slap as Art

This past week on So You Think You Can Dance, sandwiched between an emotional routine based solely around a light bulb and a fierce Paso Doble was a racy little number that played up all the popular male-female stereotypes. It would have been one more Burlesque For Family Time quickly forgotten in a sea of hair flips and leather vests except that it started with a slap. And not just a stage slap but a real, honest-to-goodness, face smack.

Video probably NSFW depending on how your boss feels about Janis Joplin.

In the tape of the two dancers practicing, a lot was made of the fact that the choreographer had to really coerce Caitlynn into being aggressive enough with the slap as it was key to the story of the dance. The training apparently worked. One of the judges, Mary Murphy, seemed a little taken aback asking, “Did you really slap him?” To which both Caitlynn and Mitchell exclaimed “YES!” The routine got rave reviews and a standing ovation from the audience.

The slap in the context of being part of the story of a couple fighting and the fight getting physical wasn’t questioned. And those two did the sexiest, most gorgeous lover’s brawl I’ve ever seen. (Which makes it sound like I’ve seen a lot, which in turn makes my life sound a lot more exciting than it really is. Carry on.)

The Slap as Abuse

But there was another lover’s quarrel that turned physical on TV this past week, when Amber from MTV’s Teen Mom slapped and then punched her boyfriend Gary in the ear and the face in front of their young daughter. Minus the bustier and exceptional choreography, it was the exact same situation except this one was a lot less sexy. Especially when the police were called and Amber was taken into custody for felony abuse. Oh and Child Protective Services was called on behalf of the couple’s tiny daughter. The show ended there but anyone who’s seen the headlines play out over the past couple of months knows that Amber did indeed lose custody of her daughter, at least temporarily, and is facing criminal charges.

The most disturbing part for me watching it was in a conversation the two had weeks after the punch/slap aired and Amber had just found out the police and Child Services were looking for her. Instead of apologizing, she turns it around and, in the pattern typical of abusers, yells at Gary and tells him this mess is all his fault. “Gary, I’m speaking! You need to stop! You need to learn how to respect me!” She admits, “Everything is my fault for hitting you but the thing is, Gary, what provoked those situations?”

He answers, rightly so, “I’m not having this conversation. Nothing I did should ever provoke you enough to hit me.”

This enrages her and she screams, “You are nothing! You are going through nothing! I’m so sick and tired of everything you do, everything you’ve done, everything that ever happened between us. I’m so sick of everything! Gary, I hate you! I hate you!” He apologizes to her and says he’ll try and fix it. He tells her he loves her and he’s there for her but the scene ends with her storming out of the house and him crying on the bed.

This scene packed an emotional punch for me as I have been on the receiving end of those conversations and nothing feels worse. I’ve written a lot on here about the sexual abuse I suffered from my ex-boyfriend but haven’t said much about the emotional and verbal abuse and frankly, the latter was far worse and more damaging than the assault ever was. In fact, the assault was only able to occur because he’d broken me down so completely. The worst, most soul-destroying moment of our relationship was not the sexual assault but Thanksgiving night when he’d taken me up the canyon, away from the protection of my family who loved me, to tell me: “Sometimes you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. But more often you are the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. I imagine what it would be like to peel off your skin to see your skull. I hate that you make me feel this way, that you do this to me. Today I made a list of 200 ways to kill you. And then I ate it, so that I’d always have it inside of me.” I cried and cried and cried. And then I just became numb. I don’t remember how long his tirade lasted except that it felt like years. It was an out-of-body experience. By the time he finally let me go, I was a shell. I had started to believe him.

What, no standing ovation?

The Slap as Protection

I personally have never slapped anyone, male or female. (Okay, so there was the time I punched Gym Buddy Vernie in the arm during a kickboxing drill but he told me to and it certainly wasn’t done out of anger) Even when I was in a physically threatening situation slapping or hitting didn’t seem like a good or particularly productive option at the time. I don’t think anyone would have faulted me for fighting back – you may remember that I didn’t, something I felt guilty about for a long time. I know that I would not fault any girl (or guy) in a similar situation for fighting back.

I think the fact that I don’t have that aggressive instinct is the reason that I first gravitated so strongly towards kickboxing and karate; I wanted the martial art to be a substitute for my own lack of fire. But fire burns and I’ve since learned something about myself: I like my innate gentleness. I don’t want to cut it out of me anymore. It isn’t a weakness.

Is it different for women?

Women are weaker and smaller and therefore not as likely to hurt men when they get violent is how the reasoning usually goes. But first, I think that plenty of women have shown a propensity to be deadly violent and second, does it matter if the person isn’t seriously hurt?

Have you ever slapped anyone? Do you think a woman slapping a man is cute? Is there ever a good reason to slap someone? Anyone else loooove Gone With the Wind too??



{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Quix July 20, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Never a good idea. My ex, I would get to the point of extreme frustration that I would throw things or hit him (I am 5’5″ and wasnt nearly a muscle fiend like I am now, he was 6’3″ and had 100 lbs on me, so it was never an issue of actually hurting him, just trying to call attention, I knew this – wasn’t trying to hurt him really but…), and it was because words, then yelling, then NOTHING would make him actually stop and listen to what I was saying. I’m not proud of it, but if you get to that point, things ain’t right, and you should leave. Either way. Fighting this way is not part of a healthy relationship. Know this now. Didn’t as a stupid teen.


Alyssa (azusmom) July 20, 2011 at 11:39 pm

I haven’t ever slapped anyone (although I’ve been sorely tempted at times!). I think it’s as unacceptable for a woman to hit a man as vice-versa, unless it’s self defense or in defense of another. A lot of people think that a woman cannot be abusive, but that’s just not true. I recently saw a clip form “Jerseylicious,” (one of the most heinous pieces of crap ever put on TV) in which two women go at it: there’s the usual hair pulling, scratching with fake nails and slapping, but when one of them slipped, the other kicked her in the face with her stiletto. And no one made a move to break it up or help her. Everyone laughed, after watching the spectacle of a “catfight.” It was disgusting. We have turned this kind of ridiculous behavior into entertainment.
As for the dance, it was beautiful except for the slap.


Ann Claire July 20, 2011 at 11:41 pm

I’ve never even had the urge to slap some, it just seems weird to me! I dont’t see it as a way of protection either. If I were to slap someone, my hand would be stinging and they would barely be hurting at all…I guess I’m not the strongest of slappers :)
I honestly couldn’t even imagine going through the situation you described. I just want to reach out and give you a big hug, Charlottte.


Jenn (GH) July 21, 2011 at 12:01 am

Oh my gosh I can’t believe the things your ex said to you. That is downright creepy and disturbing. It’s so twisted and odd it almost sounds like song lyrics…not from any sort of band I’d be interested in but lyrics nonetheless. What in the heck attracted to you him in the first place?

No it’s not okay to for women to slap men or anyone for that matter. .


Terri July 21, 2011 at 2:46 am

I don’t think violence is ‘cute’ when done by anyone. I have only ever done violence once. An ex hit me – I decked him. He never did that again. We broke up shortly afterwards.

I can’t understand when babies/little kids hit someone people laugh and say how cute it is.

I can’t understand your ex. He sounds like he has some really big issues and I’m glad you got away and have a great gym-hubby now :)


James July 21, 2011 at 6:46 am

Abuse is abuse.

Unfortunately, society hasn’t figured this out yet.

I’ve witnessed by step-mother beat my father so bad one night that he couldn’t lift his right arm above his head for a day or two afterward.

I’ve been slapped in the face by my step-mother for not mowing the lawn when she wanted. I think I was around 19 or 20.

The key is to have a healthy relationship where violence of any kind doesn’t happen.

Thankfully my wife and I have a much healthier relationship than my dad and step-mom do…..


Rebecca Gierok July 21, 2011 at 8:10 am

Years ago my parents had a neighbor that the police regularly visited and because the wife left in her own car it was assumed by everyone in the neighborhood that he was the aggressor. He was given the cold shoulder until one neighbor looked up the police report to find that SHE was the aggressor. Can’t help but wonder if the husband would have been arrested if he was the source of the abuse instead of just being escorted off the property.


Jessica July 21, 2011 at 8:29 am

What the f’iddy f (I know that doesn’t make sense but that’s what I’m saying in my head) was up with the ex-boyfriend? That is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard someone say to another person. I wasn’t in your situation so I’m not judging (I’m just curious), but I find it unfathomable that a person would stay with someone after they said something like that. How does it happen that a statement like that can be a part of a relationship and not the end? How can you take someone that obviously insane seriously and think that their opinion has any valid weight?

That being said, congratulations to you for getting the heck out of that mess and having such a gorgeous, amazing family now.


azusmom July 21, 2011 at 10:11 am

I think Charlotte explained pretty well that her state of mind at the time was not what it is today. She stayed with him because, like many people, she believed what he told her. That’s how abusers work; they wear down their partners (or children or whomever) until that person feels they are indeed at fault and deserve the abuse.
Judging the victims isn’t helpful And words can hurt as much, or even more than, fists.


Jessica July 21, 2011 at 11:55 am

I know. It just makes me sad, and shocks me, that someone could believe something so horrible about themselves.


azusmom July 21, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Yeah, it’s hard to think about.


Miz July 21, 2011 at 9:47 am

It is amazing how many women I know who do think it’s ok for us to slap men because we are for the most part weaker and small.

women with whom I normally agree and women whom I adore and admire.

Im not one who thinks violence is the answer in any situation from spanking to slapping.
but thats me…


Rich November 30, 2011 at 10:39 pm

I can understand when a women slaps a man…mainly it’s a sign to put us in our places. I myself believe in that situation (even if the women is wrong) should not be aloud to respond back with violence because it is part of giving respect to women. I’ve been in situations where I would be rudely shoved or jostled aside in a crowded bus or hallway by women from all walks of life who felt that no one should be in their way or just plain rude. As always I respond with keeping my hands down by my side or me kindly saying excuse me or taking the fault by apologizing and letting them have their way. I was also assaulted with a slap to my face by a deranged homeless women for not having a cigarette (which I don’t smoke) as I was walking down the street opposite from her. She also hit me with an open hand to my shoulder a few times and grabbed and shoved me in the chest a few times as I managed to finally walk away safely without having to lay a hand on her. It works, she noticed how much I respected her and she moved along to probably fine someone else to hit. It doesn’t matter how attractive or unattractive a woman is…when it comes to violence…be as restraintive as possible so it doesn’t get ugly and do anything a man would regret later.The only time I would have to respond to violence to a woman….If she came at me with a meat cleaver, claws, closed fist etc. where I would have to protect myself.


cbuffy July 21, 2011 at 10:10 am

Like all evil, abuse is quiet and slow in most cases. If the ex had said what he did out of the blue or at the beginning of the “relationship” Charlotte would most certainly have headed for the hills. But there are small, subtle things that break down your self-confidence, make you question your own worth, make you dependent on the abuser and THEN the whammy. My sister went from the most independent, strong, healthy person to a quiet, shy, demure abused wife. It took drastic measures from our family to rescue her from an incredibly dangerous situation. She is now, again, a strong, independent, loving wife and mother with a strong, loving and kind man.

And no, slapping is NOT cute. Ever.


Joshua July 21, 2011 at 10:20 am

In 8th grade, another kid slapped me in art class because I wouldn’t let him use my art supplies. I pull and X-Acto knife on him. Not that it justifies what I did, but it was pretty dark time in my adolescence. The full story here.

As far as slapping someone, I’ve done it twice. The first was on the side of a mountain when one of the guys I was backpacking with started to pass out, and the second one was less of a slap and more of a “do you need medical attention”-CPR kind of thing.


skeptigirl July 21, 2011 at 10:32 am

I admit I have hit an ex-boyfriend. It was not okay and I am not proud off it and I was not defending myself or anything. There was no excuse. I never get in situations that I could possibly be the victim, I suppose that is because I am more prone to be the abuser but we all have our faults and I can say I have never repeated the incident and will never think it is okay if I do. There just is no excuse to hit someone you are supposed to love except in defence of a physical attack.


Jorge July 15, 2013 at 9:56 am

I am guessing that you abused your boyfriend and he was nothing but nice to you. I am glad that you regret it. If there was no reason for you to physically abuse your boyfriend, I am glad you repented. Was he always nice to you??? I am happy that he did not break up with you. what was the reason for you slapping him?


Skeptigirl July 15, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Jorge, I would not say he was “nothing but nice” to me. He did not do anything to deserve being hit over. I hit him because I got pissed off at him because he was pressuring me to have sex with him before I was ready to. I should have just said a firm no and left it at that.

He was not nice to me always he ended up cheating on me and dumping me, still nothing to resort to physical violence over. What makes you think the victim is always nothing but nice? We are complex individuals and my story is not about a mean bitch of a girlfriend beating her poor nice boyfriend but how we all make mistakes and must admit them and not repeat them.


Jorge July 15, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Well, that’s how you made it sound. I am sorry that you both were going through rough times. If he wanted to force you to have sex, then he is no angel either. Forcing is not the answer to anything.


Heather July 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm

I don’t recall ever truly slapping someone, but I have punched people. The most vivid memory was of punching a boy in the face and giving him a bloody nose in the 3rd grade after he held my arms behind my back so that another boy could kiss me. Neither succeeded in their attempts. Obviously, I was NEVER a fan of someone else forcing me to do anything, even if it was a “harmless” game of “boys kiss girls” on the playground. I never got in trouble for it because I told the boy that if he told the teacher on me, I’d come after him again. Needless to say, the boys never harassed me again.

The other times I’ve punched someone were all because someone made a violent or aggressive move at me (though they never connected…I was too fast!). It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a situation where physical violence was deemed necessary to protect myself.

However, I know for a fact that I have the inner fire to stand up for myself and get in someone’s fact if I feel threatened or if I feel as if someone is threatening my family.

I was in a relationship with an alcoholic who tried to make me feel worthless, but I never believed him. The relationship ended with near-violence when he attempted to push me down two steps (front door of the house) and verbally told me he would kill me when I confronted him about drinking and letting a minor drink in MY garage. There were two witnesses (his parents) and I immediately called the cops. I don’t know if he would have actually done anything, but I wasn’t taking the chance. He was escorted to jail and slapped with charges of drunk driving and terroristic threats. Scary, but I didn’t back down, even if I did call in outside help.


meredith July 21, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I’ve slapped my brothers plenty of times. They were mean occasionally so whatev. Sometimes when a women finally fights back it’s like, “hallelujah!!” (the epic J.Lo drama “Enough” anyone?). Obviously violence is not a great answer to anything but I definitely feel like women take enough crap in life, a little Scarlett O’Hara action is called for sometimes (“Gone with the Wind” is one of the best books ever written, BTW). And PS: I hate “Teen Mom” so much but can’t look away, car wreck syndrome.


Jo January 27, 2012 at 6:14 pm

same HERE! I get into ‘net discussions quite a bit, and on one board I frequent quite a bit, this topic comes up a lot. It it mostly males who populate the board, and mostly spiteful, bitter, misogynistic ones (wonder why I bother to post there? the guys who arent like that are worth talking to!) so naturally, it is the “if she hits me I’ll hit her back, b*tch shouldn’t hit someone stronger than her or push him”. SCUSE ME? So if she “pushes” him in a bar or during a lover’s quarrel, it’s ok for him to hit back? Huh! And here I thought guys always said women are weaker, smaller, slower, etc. What does that make them? COWARDS.

Anyway, not that I’m trying to excuse it, but when I was a bit younger, my dad and I fought a lot. He got drunk a lot because he was jobless and depressed. I was frustrated with that and school, so none of it really made home life happy. anyway, during one fight, he kept pushing me and pushing me and made me feel so terrible I finally punched his eye. This same situation happened 1-2 more times. I know it’s no reason but as someone else mentioned, he would NEVER listen or even try to while he was drinking, and it was so hard to stay away from him in this tiny house with no lock on my door. I barely can, now, while he’s sober!

anyway, sorry for the long story. to put it shortly: don’t hit if they are smaller/less strong than you are. This makes you a coward, no matter what your gender is. And yes, women HAVE had it hard with violence… especially at the hands of men.

And FYI guys: Rhett threatened Scarlett physically and pretty much raped her, even if she was later seen to enjoy it.


Kat July 21, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Slaps have been in cinema for a long time (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9p2R-2qKhg) though they used to be fairly exclusive to females slapping males (not entirely though obviously – a huge exception being the three stooges)

violence makes me really uneasy… due to my childhood I suppose.

I don’t think it’s really ever cute as I find it unnecessary. ESPECIALLY in front of children… or even behind closed doors when children are home. One o the scariest moments of my childhood centers around hearing things happen without seeing them. Not knowing exactly what was happening…


ellie July 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm

I remember hitting my sister as a kid and now when I think about it, I feel so guilty! I wish I could go back in time and take it back. My sister and I have a great relationship but still I hate that we fought like that way back when. And Charlotte, I cannot believe the things your ex said to you. So horrible. I’m sorry that you ever had to go through that.


Heather July 21, 2011 at 4:45 pm

When I was 16 I slapped a guy. I had broken my foot and it took a week for the swelling to go down and cast it. I was talking to a friend and leaning on my crutches, when another friend came up behind me and pulled away my crutches. If I had put weight on my foot, I would have had to start the bone setting/healing all over again. I slapped him. We stayed friends for a long time!
I do understand about verbal/mental abuse. I always knew I was strong enough to walk away from physical abuse, but I didn’t understand how damaging verbal abuse was. 4 years. I finally realized I could make decisions (good, intelligent decisions), and that I loved myself enough to file for divorce.


Esmerelda Crow July 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm

I think that people slapping each other (men or women) is tacky at best, abhorrent at worst. As for your ex-boyfriend, I have known a few people who were verbally abusive in a psychotic way like that (sadly, a couple of them related to me). Thinking back on it, they were all either substance abusers or mentally ill, though that does not make the damage they could do any less. I understand how easy it is to get sucked up in a horrible situation like that; it happened to me when I was in my mid-twenties, in the Army. My boyfriend was an alcoholic and when he was really drunk he’d say the most hateful things, and usually not remember a word the next day. I DON’T advise other people to try this, but in our case, after I’d finally found the strength to break up with him, a few months later, he swore he’d quit drinking and asked for another chance. Sober, he was an entirely different person–or rather, he was the person I had actually wanted to be with. Many years later, he’s still sober and we’ll have our fifteen year anniversary this year. Looking back, I can see how lucky I was that it all worked out.


Shevy July 22, 2011 at 10:18 am

You are brave to have written this. Thank you!!!!

I am one of those women in the world that will fight back and I have physically fought back too. I can get super aggressive and threatening when someone desecrates my space and I am absolutely, vigilant in how I feel about physical violence of any kind – no matter who inflicts it on me. In a nutshell. If you hit me I am going to hit you back and teach you a very painful lesson in the process.

That being said, like my relationship with food, I try as much as possible to avoid at all costs people who take physical and verbal abuse as their toy. Because when I have found myself in situations where I react with equal abuse, I NEVER EVER EVER feel good about it afterwards. Even if I feel justified because I was ‘defending’ myself, I still walk away feeling as though I’ve taken 15 steps back instead of going forward like Id rather.

And by the way, I also had an abusive EX who also happens to be the father of my child. He hit me once and I almost killed him. But it wasn’t even the hitting that drove me over the edge, it was the verbal abuse. The last straw was one day he told me to go have sex with a gonorrhea infected dog. I left him right there on the spot and never looked back.

Girl!!! Im glad those days are behind me and glad they are behind you too!!!! The fact is violence of any kind is NOT cool no matter who it is coming from.


Marion@affectionforfitness July 26, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Hi Charlotte! I’m sorry all of that happened to you. I had abuse in my life, so I do understand what you’re saying the words hurt even more than the stuff that others would imagine was the very worst. And there is a point where you break down, and there is a point where you kind of believe what the abuser is saying as an inevitable truth. Overall, it is extremely lonely, where there are people all around you, but nobody understands or really sees what is happening–otherwise they would make it stop.

I went to counseling over mine. The psychiatrist said it was amazing that I was not an alcoholic or druggie after what happened to me. I am strong, but I’m not the same calm trusting person as I was before all of it happened.

:-) Marion


Wade Hawkins August 2, 2011 at 3:00 am

Thanks for this insightful article. I’m so glad to see attitudes are changing. I just saw a billboard today depicting a woman punching a man in the balls. I hate double standards and have been really bothered by media saying it’s cute for women to act violent toward men.
There may be situations where self defense is needed, but it’s almost always wrong and a bad idea for women to it men. This is because if the man is not a threat hitting is hurting him wrongfully and if he is a threat than hitting him will provoke him into violence.


Some Guy February 12, 2013 at 9:42 am

I have been in a marriage for 6 years that has become physically abusive for the last 2. My wife started with face slapping and it has progressed to punching kicking and slapping. You would never guess if you saw me. I’m a big guy at 5’11″ 225 lbs and heavily tattooed. She is about 5’4″ and 180 lbs and she has a viscious temper. I have never hit her back, nor will I ever, it’s not an option. The abuse has damaged my self esteem tremendously and it is embarrassing as she once did it with a friend of hers at our house. The latest incident she attacked me while I was laying in bed on my side, raining down punches with both fists as hard as she could all along , my ribs, left arm, neck, legs and finished with a sharp slap to the left side of my face which honestly hurt the least of all the blows. The next day I could barely lift my arms to get my shirt on and I was sore for 4 days. I am at a loss on what do do but I will not hit her back and divorce is not an option. I have asked her to go to counseling and was slapped for it.


Charlotte February 12, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Hi – just wanted to let you know that I replied privately to your e-mail.


kkkk October 19, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I have got slaps from a girl. I just teased her for fun and she liked it but she started to pinch me very badly. Sometimes, She gets very angry and start to pinch me with her nails. It pains like hell for few days. Common, i like her but it hurts. So i asked her to slap me rather than pinching or scratching my skip. I get slapped because i cant stop teasing her. Slap with love is not that bad. If u provoke her get slapped.


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