24 Jul

Last night, I was at a 24 hour fast food place with some friends around 2:30 a.m. In the midst of talking, eating, and laughing, a pretty intense commotion ensued. Although I didn’t see it actually happen, two of my friends who were facing the couple saw a man start slapping a woman, and then begin to choke her, right in the middle of the restaurant.

The restaurant manager immediately stopped the abuse, and kicked the man out of the restaurant, while the woman stood up and started screaming at her attacker. No one else in the restaurant intervened on her behalf.

I’m not sure what I would have done if I had been facing the couple when the attack began, but I like to think I wouldn’t have let it continue. I think (though it’s easier to say this after the fact) that I would rather put myself in harm’s way than watch helplessly while a woman is choked right in front of me.

I was with one guy and three girls, and the guy later turned to us and apologized for not stepping up and saying something to the attacker immediately. He felt that he should have, and wanted us to know that he regretted not acting faster. I really appreciate his thoughtful consideration of his actions after the fact, and admire him for recognizing what he needed to do. But I can’t criticize those around me for not jumping in immediately. We don’t walk around expecting situations like that to pop up in the middle of our evenings. I think it’s important to decide, beforehand, what we will or would do when confronted with a situation like that. Coming to a conclusion when we can think calmly and carefully may help us act faster when actually witnessing some form of abuse.

This morning, when I was thinking about what more could have been done, my mind immediately went to “we should have called the police.” But I realized right away that I was asserting my white privilege in thinking the police would solve the issue. I haven’t delved far enough into the ideas of white privilege in feminism or the prison industrial complex that runs our country, but I’m starting to understand that for a lot of people, calling the police is not an option. Possibly this woman, who is black, would not have wanted that to happen, because police in this city have a tendency to be racist, sexist misogynists.

I’m going to keep thinking about this, and researching it, and in the mean time, I will try to monitor my white privilege very carefully.

I have more thoughts about last night, regarding things besides the attack, that will come soon. For now, I’m going to try to enjoy this beautiful, sunny day.

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2 Responses to “”

  1. Jessica July 24, 2010 at 7:04 pm #

    Anna,

    I think this blog is really thought provoking; however, I’m wondering why you chose to make a generalization about the police? What seems like a sweeping assumption about the personalities and moral standpoints of all MPD officers lost me a little.

    Though I agree with you from the standpoint that the whole judiciary system often fails women who experience violence of this nature all too frequently.

    Reading your own thoughts about the situation made me question what I would do in the same circumstances.
    Thank you,

    Jessie Alter

    • annanettie July 25, 2010 at 10:51 pm #

      The statement about MPD was not intended to be sweeping. I obviously cannot speak to each and every member of our police force, and I’m sure there are many that uphold the law to the best of their abilities, regardless of race, gender, or social status. But it would be ignorant to pretend that, in one of the most segregated cities in the United States, there aren’t a great number of racists and sexists on the police force. I’m sure you’ve heard of DWB…”driving while black.” It’s something that every black friend of mine who drives through Milwaukee has commented on. It means that, if they get pulled over by a police officer, it is mostly likely as a result of simply being black in a city that is notoriously racist. And my family, my mom specifically, has had to deal with the sexism and misogyny of quite a few members of the police forces in Milwaukee and its suburbs. So, while I didn’t mean the statement to come across as a generalization, I do feel that something needs to be said for the issues plaguing our police force. Those officers who do not fit into the narrow categories I have just outlined should then regard it as their duty to prevent other officers from abusing their positions of power.

      Thanks for reading the blog<3

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