Mitsuru Adachi’s Touch: She Had it Coming

Have you ever loved someone so much that you’ve become violent toward them?  That sounds strange, an oxymoron even.  But it happens all the time – and even if you don’t have a spouse or kids, perhaps you have some hidden shamefulness in your past toward a family member, a friend, or a pet.

In our culture today, commentary on rape and other violence toward women often includes a minority voice that says, “she had it coming to her,” particularly if a woman dresses a certain way or has a history of disreputable character.  Most of us scoff as such commentary, but perhaps many of us at least consider this possibility.  One small thought might wisp through our mind – “well, if she hadn’t been out at 4am in that part of town…”

Tatsuya and Minami
Come on, Tatsuya - what are you thinking?!

Though it’s not on the level of a full assault, I thought a bit about this idea while recently watching Touch, the anime adaptation of Mitsuru Adachi‘s classic manga.  Early in the series, Tatsuya slaps Minami in a fit of rage.  He feels terrible (though stubborn as he is, he finds it hard to admit his fault) and the reaction against him by the rest of the school body is predictably angry.  Minami, however, claims that she “deserved” the slap.  I guess we’re supposed to appreciate Minami’s strength in seeing the other side of the coin and accepting a hit like she’s one of the boys.

I was quite taken aback by the scene.  I’m looking at this episode through a very different context in which it was once viewed.  The time period is different; the medium is different; and the culture is different.  I really have no understanding of domestic abuse/violence against women in Japan, but I wonder if there’s some minor level of acceptance or at least “cover-up” in Japan, knowing how many men from my background (Korean) grew up suffering physical abuse or predicating it themselves.

I don’t want to really delve into the repercussions of accepting violence against women on any level.  We know it’s bad, really bad.  But I do want to discuss the idea of seeing this issue from the eyes of the one being hurt.  Minami has a most optimistic (if strangely off-based) view of the situation.  Others are affected more deeply and painfully, even when the act doesn’t escalate to the level of a felony crime.

Someone very close to me was groped by a stranger the other day.  This wasn’t the first time it happened to her.  She was in a store with her children, no less, and the man walked by, did his deed, and quickly left the store.  Outrage was replaced by pain, shame, and tears.  By the evening, she was falling apart.  Her background had much to do with how she reacted to the situation.  While another woman might have yelled at the man and chased him down, this young lady’s hurt overshadowed the act itself.

Though I’m a typically emotional black-and-white sorta guy, understanding the young lady’s background and context of the situation helped me better empathize.  If I didn’t know these things, I would’ve been no help at all, and maybe would have caused additional hurt.

We have a chance to be empathetic, compassionate, and loving every day – when someone cuts us off in traffic, when a co-worker causes us grief, when a friend stands us up.  Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek, but even if we can’t live up to that beautiful standard, I think we can at least try to understand that there are things going on with the perpetrators that we don’t know about.  That horrible driver could be distraught, driving away from an emergency situation (I was in these shoes once).  The co-worker might have  a family member going through cancer treatment.  The friend might be ridden with guilt over some issue.  And though the person could just be a jerk, I would rather ere on the side of caution and show grace to others – love always trumps pride.

Now…to just do what I feel.  That’s the hard part.

6 thoughts on “Mitsuru Adachi’s Touch: She Had it Coming

  1. I’m sorry to hear about your friend, and will keep her in my prayers. Thank you for the timely reminder about turning the other cheek (which I’d like to point out does not mean acquiescence to your friend being groped).

    I’m a bit more cynical than you, and sometimes have doubts about whether the “she had it coming” crowd is actually a minority.

    1. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers. 🙂

      As for that crowd…perhaps it’s not a minority. I think that probably a great deal of us (myself included, unfortunately) at least think that some of the time for some situations, maybe almost automatically, instead of viewing the situation with accuracy and compassion.

  2. “Turning the other cheek” can actually be pretty useful in many situations. If someone is trying to do harm to you for whatever reason, trying to fight back will only bring you two down, whereas being kind to that person can effectively make them stop.

    Although the analogy doesn’t work very well, I think that’s what it essentially means, that you should answer violence with kindness.

    Most kids seem to realize this, as we often see them using this tactic against parents, and sometimes even before their parents find out what they did wrong. Kids learn to “turn the other cheek before the first slap”, or better yet, to use kindness in their favor.

    I guess the lesson here is that we should be kind all the time, a shame we forget that as we grow older.

    1. Thanks for the thoughts!

      Kids are funny – they’re often a mix of extremes. They’ll “turn the other cheek” in one instance and then hit you with fury in another. Childhood innocence often refers to honesty in actions.

      But besides the good that turning the other cheek can do, it’s all about a mindset. I think it takes the emphasis off of us – giving retribution because WE feel WE’VE been done wrong. It puts the emphasis on loving the other person and sacrificing our own feelings to understand or emphasize with him or her. And it runs quite contrary to what we’ve grown up with and what most of us feel most of the time.

  3. I really have no understanding of domestic abuse/violence against women in Japan, but I wonder if there’s some minor level of acceptance or at least “cover-up” in Japan, knowing how many men from my background (Korean) grew up suffering physical abuse or predicating it themselves.

    It probably is the result of that particular culture… when examples of this kind of thing crop up in media it’s called (according to TV Tropes) Values Dissonance, and it’s especially prevalent in anime. I found this info especially disquieting: “Yet women are not supposed to raise a fuss about [sexual harassment] should it actually happen to them; it’s the emphasis on dignity coupled with an attitude of female subordination.”

    1. I think we particularly see this is anime when a woman on a train is groped. Female characters in anime respond generally by hitting or yelling at the person. This is played for laughs, as if it is 1) unexpected and 2) the new way of a younger generation. It isn’t what society has expected of women until recently (if even now).

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