When the Heavens won’t Respond: the World’s “most useless Husband”

Once in a while, when violent behavior, no matter of which kind, is criticized, I’ll disagree. Children shouldn’t be considered tin-pot if they engage in a brawl once in a while, for example. But most parents and schools teach children in ways which suggest that violence is an absolute “no”. In certain circles here in Germany, you’d rather be supposed to crap on your boss’ desk, than join a fight – even if you didn’t start it yourself.

There are more gruesome things than having a fight, of course. Stuff like this: a wife gets beaten and raped, and her husband does nothing about it.

That – reportedly – is the story of Wang Juan (王娟, pseudonym), a 29-year old woman from Bao’an District in Shenzhen, and her husband Yang Wu (杨武, also a pseudonym).

ChinaSmack has a collection of Wang’s Yang Wu’s self-criticisms. Self-criticism is the only way to deflect formal or informal anger to some extent – it is hard to tell how much of it reflects genuine feelings, and how much of it is part of the ritual.

Everyone seems to be an expert on cowardice these days (if the media are something to go by) – the asked or unasked question seems to be “what kind of people we are”, especially when the talk is about what Wang Yang Wu wanted to do to the rapist (to get a knife and hack him to death), and what he didn’t dare to do, because he was too afraid.

His wife had been beaten up by the same man before, according to Nanfang Daily, by a man who was – reportedly – a member of the Public Order Joint-Defense forces (治安联防队) named Yang Xili (杨喜利, I’m not sure if this is a pseudonym, too), and when Yang added rape to the abuse, on October 23, he had brought two accomplices with him, according to an interview Nanfang Daily did with Wang Yang Wu. All that is still under investigation, and it is rarely pointed out that Yang Xili, too, is a suspect so far, but not a convict. A blogger who did point that out also referred to Yang Wu and Yang Xili as classmates, and the bullying history is said to date back to their schooldays.

During previous attacks, Wang Yang Wu had never resisted Yang’s Yang Xili’s attacks either. On October 23, when his wife was raped, he was hiding a few meters away from the scene of the crime. He – also reportedly – called the police an hour after Yang [Xili] and his accomplices had left.

Yang Xili, the alleged perpetrator, had claimed that he was closely connected to the police, Wang Yang Wu told Nanfang Daily, and he believed what Yang [Xili] said. Resistance seemed to make no sense. Besides,

My personality is also to resign myself to abuse, always afraid of trouble ever since I was small, putting up with everything.

From what I’ve heard experts (psychologists etc.) say, this isn’t necessarily exceptional. To different degrees, human beings may be shell-shocked, or frozen with fear, and unable to act in defense of themselves or someone else when the need arises. They seem to become absolutely passive, probably as if they were cats, taken by the skin of their neck.

I don’t think that any man would want to face this kind of test. A small man may rise above himself, and a big man may shrink below his usual strength in extreme moments. Whoever tells me that he knows for sure that he’d be a better man in this kind of situation looks unreliable to me, because he simply can’t know. But maybe this worrying uncertainty is exactly why there seems to be no mercy for Wang Yang Wu. The media print big pictures of his face, with tears running from his eyes, and snot streaming from his nose. Not even China National Radio (CNR), a state broadcaster, could bring itself to do without this kind of footage.

Yet CNR tries to explain the case. The Yang Wu case is typical (杨武事件具有典型性), their topical webpage explains:

What Yang Wu’s family encountered is the tragedy of many nobodies at the bottom of our society. They are powerless, and on an occurence will frequently cry out to heaven – but the heavens won’t respond, and the earth will be impervious. Facing outrageous  people who are holding power and bully them, they can only submit to the humiliation. There is nothing untypical about this.

杨武一家的遭遇,可以看到诸多生活在底层的小人物的悲哀。他们无权无势,遇到事情往往“叫天天不应叫地地不灵”,面对手握权力者的蛮横、欺侮只能选择忍气吞声。只是杨武这件事更具典型性罢了。

Plus, the case reflects the terrible deterioration of the social and legal environment (案件反应了社会法治环境的恶劣).

But even if some of the analysis is surprisingly candid, and throws much of the blame piled on the victims right back onto their neighborhood, lines about particular (or exceptional) areas where “violence management” had become an important tool for the solution to management problems (在个别地方,“管理暴力”已经成为解决一些管理难点的重要手段) seems to hail right from the recently emerged CCP concept of “social management”, which may apply to channeling public feelings when it comes to conflicts between locals and migrant workers, obstinate independent candidates who try to run for local people’s congresses, or to Granny Ji when she is in need of affordable housing, close to the city center.

A state broadcaster simply needs to depend on some advice that speaks with authority.

And if the story needs to end with lines like these –

But a healthy society’s value lies in its ability to provide comprehensive protection to its citizens

– something must be wrong with it. In every society, there will be situations where state protection isn’t available, even if its absence may only last for a short time. To train the vulnerable to take a metal pipe and to beat a perpetrator up by themselves (and to train their neighbors to join an honest neighbor once the perpetrator comes back with reinforcements) should be part of the security package, too.

That’s particularly true for a country like China. Belief in state power to protect the vulnerable there is a pipe dream. But if it’s a pipe dream there, proscription of every  kind of violence in Germany is a miscalulation. Sometimes, violence can be very healthy.

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Related

» A Shame, but not on Them, Chai Jing / ESWN, November 10, 2011
» My fearful Country, March 19, 2011
» Facing Mount Kenya (aka The Gentlemen of the Jungle), Yomo Kenyatta, 1938

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4 Responses to “When the Heavens won’t Respond: the World’s “most useless Husband””

  1. JR Your last sentence. And I thought my last comment on Custer’s site was a bit feral.

    Like

  2. Yes, when I’m saying that violence can be healthy, I think at least eight out of ten people would look at me as if I had said something unbelievable. I used to think that a political, educational etc. desire to take the capacity to beat someone else up away from people was something particularly German, given the last war and all that, but it seems that Britain, for example, is moving into a similar direction.

    On the other hand, I believe that I’m only stating the obvious.Things can’t be good when people eat everything as served, once the service comes with a threat. To see the shades in an issue is usually important. But at times, there are no shades of grey.

    Like

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