Friday, December 21, 2007

Real Joke Or Real Excuse To Escape Accountability?

The opening paragraph in a Minneapolis Star Tribune story has it dead wrong.

Two men thought it was just a joke - cutting off a woman's underwear as other men in the bar laughed and the bartender turned down her plea to come to her rescue, authorities allege.

I don't believe they thought their actions were a true joke, I believe they thought they could get away with a sexualized assault by framing that assault against a woman as nothing more than a joke. Whether they scared others into inaction and nervous laughter or whether their actions satisfied something sadistic inside the observers we may never know.

I've lost track of the times men who make excuses for hostile behavior toward women say, "women have no sense of humor. Loosen up."

The quickest way to evaluate whether they think this was a genuine joke is to imagine their reaction if 2 larger men restrained them as a woman stuck a pocketknife inside their pants in order to cut off their underwear.

Does anyone really imagine that these 2 men would be laughing in good humor as a knife cut at their crotch? How about those men who scold women for having no sense of humor? Would they be happy to be on the receiving end of this type of joke or would they suddenly become as humorless as those they love to scold?

Michael S. Puhalla, 39, and Russell J. Baumgardner, 40, are accused of holding down a woman against the bar in Sartell, Minn., and cutting off her underwear with a pocketknife and placing it on a fan in the bar.

They were charged Wednesday in Stearns County with second-degree sexual assault with a dangerous weapon and second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon in the incident Sunday.

I'm glad that the police took this report seriously and didn't deny the violence committed by these men because "guys will be guys." Unfortunately, this dismissal is what too many women get when they report this sort of violence or worse. Unfortunately, victims of actual violence do get labeled as women who made a false police report.

If these men are convicted, they will have nobody but themselves to blame. Baumgardner admitted that this isn't the first time he's pulled a "joke" like this which makes him an admitted serial offender.

This bar should face at least a temporary loss of its liquor license because of the bartender's complicity in this assault. If he was afraid of reprisal that shows that he knew these men were dangerous and not harmless jokers.

hat tip: Feministing

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:18 PM   0 comments links to this post


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