Men size up other men as possible opponents in a fight; men pitilessly judge themselves based on how they have, in the past, responded to threats. In A Crime So Monstrous, Ben Skinner's recent book about modern slavery, one American antitrafficking zealot traces the beginnings of his life's work to the time he saw a pimp abusing a prostitute and did not come to the woman's defense. Even after years of traveling throughout the world and working the halls of Congress on behalf of trafficked women, the man still has not let himself off the hook for that past moment of timidity.

And that, perhaps, is what makes this simple truth—that men are violent— not so simple. Because buried inside it is a more complicated truth: that men feel they must withstand violence. Men are not just throwing grenades at their enemies, they're throwing themselves on top of grenades for their friends; they aren't simply punching out another drunk in a bar, they're stepping between two drunks and getting whaled on in the process; they aren't only the perpetrators in the dark alley, they're the ones forcing themselves to walk down that same alley toward a cry for help.

And this is where we come to the largest and perhaps the deepest part of the gulf that separates men from women: If you hurt, cheat, or humiliate a woman she will in all probability hate you forever. If you do these things to a man, he will hate you, too, but if the score is somehow not settled, if he does not hurt you back and then some, the greatest, most excoriating and lasting scorn he will feel will be for himself.


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