Frankly, I think you’re over thinking it a bit, but let me just say that I don’t think anyone should be hitting anyone either. That said, I know the “real” world doesn’t work like that.
No, I am not overthinking. I am choosing my words very carefully, because in the past there have been situations where people take thing X to mean they have a blanket permission to Y. Further, this is a topic where it is possible to run into gender-based, class-based, or cultural bias; it is not something you can discuss without accounting those biases and expectations. Intersectionality between those cases make it even hairier.
For example, which one tends to get more headlines: a working-class man hitting a woman, or a CEO of Fortune 500 company hitting a woman? (Or, woman hitting a man, in either case.) Even if the act were precisely the same, it is the latter which tends to shock people more.
I think it’s hypocritical, for example, that men are forbidden to “EVER” hit a woman (at least in the U.S.) but women are not only “allowed” to hit men, it many cases they’re actually encouraged to do so.
This is because (your) culture and society places men and women to different slots, and assigns them different values; women, as a whole, have been delegated to “dainty and fragile” category, even when it is not true. I come from a different culture, and possibly different social class, where women are regarded “just as capable as men, and if they’re not stronger, they’ll work harder”; in my case, my roots are in agricultural society where you haul that cow out of bog, or there won’t be milk and meat come next winter, and everyone is expected to muck the cowshed and carry bales of hay.
Even so, when it is acceptable to hit someone depends on many things. There is no way I can give a blanket “okay, go to town” permission or recommendation to do so, be the target a man or woman.
I have hit a man. I did that as self-defense, as he failed my checklist of “when it is acceptable to hit someone”, so I did. I did not injure him, but I made a fool out of him in front of people, and made it clear that what he was about to do was not ok and if he keeps pressing the issue, it will go poorly for him. Let’s see what the checklist says:
1) I did not instigate the attack. I was merely present (the only woman currently present at a LAN party, in a crowd of 100 or so), and giving no signals that I would like him to approach me. How do I know? Because I was sleeping. With my nerd clothes (plain black t-shirt, jeans) on. In a sleeping bag. I woke up to his lurching steps and drunken bellowing (wasn’t the only one—since it was the designated sleeping area).
2) He was about one and half times the size of me. Further, I was 16, he was about 20+.
3) He was drunk, stinking to high heavens. Earlier that day, he and his demo crew had been blasting pornographic content on their computers’ screens and harassing other women at the LAN party.
4) He ignored my verbal and non-verbal clues that I do not want his attention in any manner and I cannot currently retreat. Further, he was doing the grabby hands as he approached, which was pretty much all I needed to know what he wanted to do.
It was a quick jab to his shoulder with a fist, enough to sting, but not injure. And, enough to embarrass him in front of the waking crowd, and make him go away. Would be nice if I could say that was the end of it. But at least their next spate of harassment was a set of whiny self-made posters calling women sluts (the logic of this still escapes me) rather than actual attempt at physical harrassment.
Does this help visualizing the problem at all? You can’t say “always OK to hit when X”. It depends. I agree that the idea “never, ever, ever!” is bull****. But there are reasons why your culture insists so, and it is for the best to start unpacking it from there: ask why it insists on that.