WHEN IS A GOOD THUMPING ACCEPTABLE?

AN East Coast Mainline ad features a Wallace and Grommit-type couple enjoying a day out at the museum. They stand side-by-side, backs to camera, looking quizzically at a dinosaur skeleton. He gives it a poke and the whole thing falls apart and clatters to the floor.  She hits him so hard on the back of the head that he falls flat on his face. “That’s hilarious,” I find myself saying to Ian. And then I instantly reflect – how would I have reacted if he had thumped her?

Ten minutes later we see an angry Anna in Coronation Street, beside herself with fury because son Gary has been dishonorably discharged from the army for assaulting a police officer. He gives her some back chat – and she cracks him hard across the face. We comment not only that she seems to have made real contact (brilliant acting) but mutter something to the effect of: good on yer, Anna. He deserves a good slap. Cheeky beggar.

Would we have said the same if it had been a father hitting his daughter? Female on male violence is hardly on our radar, yet it happens. So why do we still think it’s not only acceptable, but commendable? Because, metaphorically speaking, we’re dinosaurs.

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