If you don’t know Shi’dea Lane by name, you know her by the viral video posted October 11 that captured her mouthing off to a Cleveland bus driver and then, within moments, her head snapping back and her body sandbagging to the ground after said bus driver delivered the haymaker heard 'round the Internet.
It’s just a fleeting piece of footage, grainy and mediocre in quality, but it’s stomach-turning to the evidently waning number of people who still believe that a man should not, under any circumstances, raise his hand, foot, or any other part of his person, to harm a woman. Unfortunately, the same video also outed the disturbing increase of people who have been so desensitized to violence against women, they watched the battery unfold in that six-minute clip with icy nonchalance. And then, after Shi’dea Lane got her wig pushed back—almost literally—they’ve come to the defense of the bus driver for “doing what he needed to do.” And the greatest disappointment among them, hands down, are women.
If you’ve ever been on the other side of a guy’s fist of fury like I have, you don’t need science to tell you the physical differences between the impact of a man’s punch and a woman’s punch. You know, whenever you regain your ability to think, hear and see straight, that there’s no comparison between the two. Unless she has been specially trained in some form of hand-to-hand combat, the average woman is not equipped to hold her own for long in fisticuffs with a dude, no matter his size. In this case, Lane didn’t pose an immediate threat to Artis Hughs, the driver who’s been operating Cleveland public transportation for 22 years now. His punch wasn’t a defensive blow, like a shove to get her away from him or a push to oust her from his bus because he felt threatened. That uppercut was a culmination of his anger and frustration.
It’s not clear whether Lane put her hands on him or if she spit on him. Reports are conflicting, and she’s got a pending lawsuit that won’t allow her to divulge the details of her own trifling behavior. Surely, she was in the wrong for letting her own anger get the best of the common sense the good Lord gave her and for amping up the argument in the first place. But nothing justifies his level of reaction. He wasn’t hurt. He wasn’t injured. He was irked, he was embarrassed, he’d had enough of her bickering, he reached a boiling point, he uppercut her like he was an Olympic prizefighter.
And women, of all people, are cheerleading him for it. We’ve turned internally against ourselves to defend men who don’t honor—much less protect—our bodies or our safety. We’ve come down with some abstract strain of Stockholm syndrome and it’s setting a dangerous standard for young girls coming up in an age where women are already devalued for sport unless we’re Michelle Obama or making it clap.
I don’t know bus driver Artis Hughes personally, but I refuse to believe that this is his first time responding violently to a woman who pushed his buttons. That level of reaction is just not normal, not even for the most hotheaded dude who has the liberty of going off on folks at his respective place of employment. (And how many of those do you know? Because surely, if we are all free to piledrive people who get on our nerves at work, the whole world is in trouble.)
But I do know that I feel unprotected as a woman knowing that not only are men free to punch me without much, if any, consequence but that popular opinion among other women would be that I had it coming. If we keep on feeding a culture that gives men a pass for arbitrary acts of violence, even against strangers, then none of us are safe. Shi’dea Lane did what she did to set a dude off. For me, it could be cutting one off in traffic. For you, it might be turning down a guy who tries to holler and gets in his feelings about your rejection. For someone else, it might be insulting a co-worker in front of a group of colleagues. Making it okay to assault one woman makes it okay to assault any of us. That’s a double blow—the wrong actually being done and the justification of it thereafter.
Even some of the most feminism-on-fire blogs have produced comments from readers that she was asking for it and ultimately got what she deserved. Seeing the Internet treat the clip like it was an episode of The Boondocks, cackling and laughing at the punch and the victim, is proof positive that we’re spiraling fast as skydiver Felix Baumgartner into some dark place, especially since it’s coming from the fractured sorority of women.
Our relationships are complex, yes, but I never expected the abuse of one to be flippantly co-signed by so many others. Should Shi’dea Lane do better? Absolutely. But we all should if we can look at a woman getting the royal beatdown and say, "Yeah, that’s right. That’s what should be happening." Society has done some ugly things to us but the worst kind of woman-hater is and will always be women ourselves.