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Misbehaving Women, Chivalry Justice
May 12, 2004
by Carey Roberts

Once again, women have proven themselves to be fully the equals of men -- even when it comes to abusing Iraqi prisoners.

The commander of the Abu Ghraib prison, Gen. Janis Karpinski, was female. And remember that photo of the naked man lying on the floor with a leash tethered to his neck? The soldier holding the leash was PFC Lynndie England.

A few years ago Patricia Pearson wrote When She Was Bad, an exposé about women who commit manslaughter, infanticide, and other high crimes. Pearson's book reveals the unseemly tactics that accused women use to beat the rap. These women deftly shift the blame to the man, play on stereotypes of female nurturance, or resort to controversial defenses such as Battered Woman Syndrome.

Remember Lorena Bobbitt's defense for the heinous act of castrating her husband? She claimed temporary insanity. Once the feminists convicted John of being a member of the Male Oppressor class, Lorena was allowed to go scot-free.

Three years ago, Andrea Yates drowned her five children in their bathtub. The murder was premeditated, single-handed, and ruthless. Yet husband Russell was the epitome of forgiveness and support for his embattled wife.

But incredibly, some people blamed Russell for the gruesome crime. One woman wrote in the Houston Chronicle, "If the state of Texas allows Russell Yates to go unpunished for his part in the drowning deaths of his children, it will be a shame".

Just a couple weeks ago, 12-year-old Nicole Townes was celebrating her birthday with several girlfriends. But an argument ensued and her friends began to pummel young Nicole. An hour later, Nicole wound up hospitalized, in a coma.

In response, Betsy Hart wrote a column that began by deploring the violent incident. But three paragraphs later Hart leaps to this conclusion: "In every successful society, women are the ultimate keepers of virtue. They are the civilizing influence on the men and the culture around them."

The Nicole Townes story may be about many things, but it is not about female virtue. I can only imagine that it is very comforting to Mrs. Hart to explain away this egregious act of female malevolence by claiming that women are, in fact, the more virtuous sex.

Then there's the Clara Harris incident. Last July, Harris decided to take justice into her own hands by gunning the engine of her Mercedes-Benz and repeatedly running over her unfaithful husband. Clara Harris was formally charged with murder.

In his commentary, writer Joe Farah forgot that vigilante justice is considered unacceptable in civilized society. Indeed, Farah called for Clara's exoneration: "Free her and let her be an example to every cheating husband and wife in America. There is a price to pay."

There are documented instances of cuckolded men who killed their wives in a fit of anger. But in my many years, I have never heard of a columnist who actually applauded the homicide. To Mr. Farah, chivalry knows no bounds.

The fact is, these cases are not isolated examples. Studies show that when a man and a woman commit the identical crime, the man is more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced to prison.

For example, Patricia Pearson reports that the average prison sentence for a woman convicted of killing her husband is six years. In comparison, a man convicted of wife-killing can expect to do 16 years in the slammer. "The reality is that chivalry justice is a thriving player in death penalty cases," concludes Pearson.

Under old English law, a man could be pilloried and flogged for the misdeeds of his wife. That attitude seemingly persists in modern America.

Feminism has told us that women must now be treated equally with men. That means equal rights and equal responsibilities. Isn't it only just and fair that we stop reflexively blaming men for the misbehavior of women?

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