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Sat Apr 26, 2014, 02:20 PM

In Praise of Deborah Hughes, and Maybe We Need to Allow our Sons to be More Like our Daughters

The NYT has an op ed about a recent incident in Detroit. Man in vehicle accidentally hits child who runs into street. Man gets out of vehicle. Onlookers mistake actions of man. Began to fight him, beat him, he ends up in coma. Press decides it was all about "race" and not about the child:


What struck me about the story is the hero of the piece is a woman, a nurse who came to the aid of both the injured child and the injured man. Deborah Hughes did not attack the driver when he jumped from his car to see if the wounded boy was alright. She rushed to the aid of the wounded boy---the sane, adult choice in the situation. And, when bystanders attached the driver---possibly because they thought the child was in danger---she evaluated the scene quickly, rationally, realized that the violence had gotten out of hand, and she intervened again.

“I saw the boy all by himself, crying,” Hughes said. “His father was in the store. He came out, and I told him, ‘I’m a nurse; don’t touch him. Let him lay there.’ The baby was crying so hard, and I talked to him and tried to calm him down.

“About that time, I saw (Utash) get out of his truck; he came running up saying, ‘Oh, my God, tell me he’s all right. Please tell me he’s all right.’ He was hysterical.”


“I said ‘Please don’t hit him anymore,’ and they backed up. Everybody cleared the way and gave me room to work on him. Nobody cussed me; they didn’t attack me. They just let me do what I needed to do.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140408/METRO01/304080026#ixzz301JU2rol

Why did Ms. Hughes take charge? Was it just her training as a nurse? Or, in the United States, do we still teach our daughters to be peace keepers, caregivers, nurturers and our sons to be the defenders of the castle? I think it is the later. Ms. Hughes says the boy was crying all by himself. Why were the onlookers so quick to defend him from the driver but so slow to comfort the child? I wonder if it is because they had been taught that it is not the man's role to give comfort in a situation like that. They felt uncomfortable looking at the child's pain. They felt helpless. They needed something to do. So, they did what "men" do. They defended. They fought. And, when Ms. Hughes stepped between them, when she offered to restore the peace, they quickly stepped down, because this is what everyone wanted. No one wants violence and chaos, especially not in a situation in which a child is crying and injured. But the men had not been equipped emotionally to create that peace. They had to wait for a woman to do it---like a bunch of stereotypical women in a cartoon screaming about a mouse, waiting for a man to show up to take care of the rodent.

So no, I do not think think this is a "race" story, and I am not surprised that Rev. Al Sharpton did not stage a march over it. I think that this is a gender story. And I believe that society has let down the men who are going to stand trial for their act of mob violence. Had they been given dolls as children and encouraged to care for younger siblings as children and taught that a strong adult is one who keeps the peace, maybe they would have been better prepared to be standing at the scene when a boy they knew was injured by a vehicle driven by a man they did not know.

Someone in another thread suggested a year of national service for everyone. If every young man worked as a medical assistant/nurses aid/child care worker or other "woman's" job for a year---8-5 with supervision, not 24 hour a day at home alone with all the stress that comes from being a new dad---maybe we would have fewer babies killed and young men going to prison for life because no one ever taught them how to raise children. And, while we are at it, all the young women could go to work on road crews, as plumbers assistants, as mechanics assistants. That way, when women take their car into the shop, they would not have to worry that they are being lied to. And, they would have the kinds of skills they need to get out of the pink collar ghetto and get better paying jobs.

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