A Man with a Gun or a Girl on Facebook: Who Do You Believe?

By now you have probably seen the video of the laptop-shooting dad and read some of the responses. You may even have left a comment on YouTube or Facebook about it. I want to respond, now, to those who support his actions.

The general assumption by those who consider his behavior acceptable or even admirable is that the girl in question was being unreasonable in complaining about her chores. But we don’t know that. Parents can demand too much, and we only have his word against hers. It says something very troubling about the relative social status of adolescent girls and adult men when we automatically believe what he has to say—and this has profound consequences in cases in which adult men victimize adolescent girls in ways much worse than destroying their property.

This is all the more true given that people still believe this man over his daughter when they have just witnessed him behaving irrationally. To reiterate: people still assume that he, and not his daughter, is telling the truth even though they have seen him use a gun in an irrational act. Destroying a piece of expensive technology is irrational: even if taking away her laptop permanently were a reasonable response to her transgression, there are better things to do with it. He could have sold it or donated it. This was just wasteful. And punishing a child for blowing off steam by permanently taking away a tool that can help her succeed academically seems more than a little unreasonable. Take it away for a week. Only let her use it in the living room where she can be supervised.

All this makes me wonder what exactly a man would have to do in public before we would believe a teenage girl over him.

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