When Fall Friday nights come around, I feel sympathy for the high school football teams that lose by enormous margins. As I wrote in “High School Football as-Bullying?” size, strength and ability matter. When an opposing high school football team gets off the bus looking like an NFL starting lineup, and the home team’s biggest player is 6’2” and 200 pounds, the only question is how big the final score is going to be and will the home team score a single point? . . .
The high school where I’m fortunate to teach has this problem. Our kids are, at best, of average size for their age, but forced to play in a class of schools, that while similar in the number of students, are very, very different in terms of the size of students available for football, which is, as the saying goes, not a religion in Texas. It’s much more important than that.
Watching opposing teams take the field, they appear to have been hatched from test tubes, cloned as genetic super-teenagers. Many don’t look like teenagers, more like college juniors about to drop out of college to leap into the NFL draft. Bigger—much, much bigger, heavier, taller, stronger, faster, they’re the six-million dollar men facing off against earnest and determined teenagers. The results are known before the football moves an inch.
In boxing, wrestling, mixed martial arts and similar sports, weight—and gender—are supremely important. Allowing a 200-pound fighter to take on a 175-pound fighter is unthinkable, the outcome inevitable before the first punch or kick is thrown. Allowing a female fighter, no matter how skilled, to take on a male fighter, is also unthinkable. The differences in musculature, overall strength, bone size and density, weight and aggression are simply overwhelming.
We accept all of this without conscious thought. We accept it because experience teaches the truth of the thing. We accept it because we see sports as a metaphor for life. Bigger, stronger, faster people have a very real advantage in any confrontation with smaller, weaker, slower people. There are occasionally smaller people with extraordinary abilities that might prove the exception to the rule, but there was only one Bruce Lee.
To be sure, TV and the movies do their best to muddle our thinking about fighting and the use of force. Heroes take on and defeat multiple attackers with swords and bare hands. Combatants trade blows that would fell an elephant and shrug them off to continue the beautifully choreographed, slow motion martial ballet. Men are supposed to fight it out, hand to hand, in battles of honor, consequences be damned.
Reality, of course, is very different. In the real world, fights usually end up on the ground with desperate grappling and blows being thrown without precision or particular skill. Single blows can cause grievous injury, even death.
But one thing remains: size and strength matter.
There are, however, powerful forces in American society — and in the world, for that matter — that would ignore this particular lesson of common sense and history. Rationality teaches that women, being in general the smaller and physically less able sex, are particularly vulnerable. They’re at a real and potentially deadly disadvantage in any physical confrontation with a man. In such confrontations, men need not be armed with weapons, their natural physical advantages are more than enough to injure, even kill.
In such confrontations, time and distance are of great importance. Hand to hand, the advantage is with the bigger and stronger only if they can close the distance necessary to use that size and strength. If forced to remain at a distance, if there is a means to neutralize their size and strength advantage, there is deterrence, and women may remain unmolested.
If we think for even a few minutes, we know this. The lessons of history are plain enough. Yet again, some would deny them, because more than anything, they wish to disarm the honest and law abiding. They wish to take away the most efficient and effective means of self-defense, the small devices that make the smallest woman more than a match for the largest man: firearms.
Their arguments are superficially plausible. Guns are dangerous! They’re “X” times more likely to kill children than an intruder! They’re “X” times more likely to cause people to commit suicide! An attacker will just take it away and use it on you! They imply it’s somehow unfeminist to own or use firearms, a betrayal of the sisterhood. Guns are a symbol of the male oppressor, because war on women!
Just as a 5’7” 150 pound high school lineman facing a 6’6”, 250-pound monster finds himself on the wrong side of the disparity of force equation, so does a 5’4” 135 pound women facing a 6’ 190 pound criminal. But the police will protect women! That’s their job; leave it to the professionals. No they won’t. They can’t, and they have no legal obligation to protect any individual.
The Supreme Court in Castlerock v. Gonzales (2005) affirmed many lower court decisions. The police have a responsibility only to investigate and deter crime for the general public at large; they owe no duty of protection to any individual. This is a rational, necessary decision. The police are few, the public many, and so are criminals. Not only is it impossible for the police to prevent harm to any individual, if they could be sued for such failure, what city could possibly afford a police force?
Even so, the police work hard to respond to emergency calls, and here is where the problem of time and distance becomes important. A woman walking through a park at night finds herself being pursued by a man in dark clothing. As she quickens her pace, so does he. Soon, she is running as fast as she can, and he is gaining on her. Will she be able to dial 911 on her cell phone before she is overtaken? Will the 911 call be connected quickly enough? Will the 911 dispatcher be able to understand what she is saying and figure out where she is? And if so, that only begins the process of dispatching an officer to the call.
What if an officer isn’t available? In our current economy, many law enforcement agencies are not replacing retirees, and are actually laying officers off. In Detroit, average emergency response time is 58 minutes, when officers are available. In many parts of the country, response time is little better. Even in the best circumstances, a response time of five minutes is blazingly fast and quite unusual. Will our fleeing woman still be alive even if the police can respond within five minutes of receiving the radio call? Consider it will probably take at least two more minutes for her phone call to connect, for her to transfer the necessary information and for the dispatcher to make the radio call—if she is able to make the call in the first place.
This reality was clearly illustrated last week in Oklahoma when an apparent jihadist attacked two women with a knife, beheading one. He was stopped, and the second women retained her head and survived though seriously wounded, only because someone on the premises had a firearm and used it.
The lesson is simplicity in itself, and is deeply based in human nature, common sense and history: only firearms allow women to protect themselves against men, to take advantage of time and distance and to rebalance the disparity of force equation in their favor.
The advantage firearms–usually handguns–provide doesn’t apply only to women. Modern predators often commit crimes in groups. An armed victim of any size or sex may deter a group of overcome them if necessary. The elderly, or people disabled for any reason, even temporary injury or sickness, also need the advantage of arms.
In this election season, it’s time to take the rhetorical offensive. It’s time to demand to know why anti-gun, anti-liberty groups and politicians want to disarm women, the elderly, the disabled and the trouble-avoiding law-abiding. It’s long past time to demand to know why they’re willing to ignore the lessons of history and why they want to make life easy for terrorists and other violent scum. Why exactly do they want such people to have every advantage? Why are they making real war on women?