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Apparently She's Easy

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Today, I saw a woman being beaten. [Oct. 30th, 2013|10:09 pm]
Apparently She's Easy
I was walking in the metro, making the connection from La Chapelle to Gare du Nord. I had on a backpack, my purse under my left arm, and a third bag between my arms in front of me, in preparation for several days in Brussels.

I have been thinking about it all day.

I am still surprised at how little sound there was. In the movies, every fist connects with a thud, the same thud, be it to face, chest, what have you.
I remember very little sound as his fist connected with her face three times in quick succession.

He stood up after that, let her drop, and then turned around and kicked her in the head.

And I stood there.
I watched.
I did not cry out. I looked left and right, and saw perhaps 15, perhaps 20 people like me, who were not sure how they were supposed to change what was happening in front of them.

I saw one man, also black, and a second, walk up to the man doing the beating after that kick to the head, and force him away from the woman (girl? prostitute? undeserving), I presume telling him to calm down, I know yelling at him that that last action crossed some sort of line. I saw her lift her head, dazed, not yet swelling. She lay back down.
She raised her head. She made a vague crawling motion.
She lay back down.
She raised up again, and crawled away, toward a wall.
I noticed the long runs in her black tights, and her red shorts, and her short hair, and her beautiful full lips.

I stood there and I watched.

I watched as yet another man from the crowd came up to her, tried to help her crawl away, tried not to invade her space while still asking if she was all right.

I watched for another 20 seconds, and then I walked away.
I glanced back, several times.
I was already castigating myself for having said nothing, for not having cried out, for not having gone up to that girl before that man did, for not setting down at least one of my bags, which is of far less worth than a human life.

I walked away, wondering what kind of person I am, that I did not make a sound.

I told the first security officer I saw, that a woman had been hit. I was a little flustered. I said 'frappée.' I should have said 'battue.'

I think my father would tell me that I did the right thing, in going to an official figure for help, in not throwing myself in the middle of an obviously dangerous situation. I do not know the man who hit her, who kicked her - what reason do I have to believe that he would not have done the same to me?

And yet.

I was silent, I was still, and I cannot reconcile the hands that shook with adrenaline while lighting up a cigarette with the hands of a girl who has always daydreamed about 'being brave' and 'fighting back', if only she were to be given the opportunity.

Part of my conflict lies in the fact that I am not entirely convinced that I am ashamed, or that I should be ashamed, what with discretion being the better part of valor.

I saw a woman being beaten today.
I have never seen violence like that before.
I can only resolve that next time, which there will be, as much as there should not be,
I will not be still and I will not be silent.