Do you know your Nose Punching Limit?


“Without making the victims responsible for what happens, one of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave. And so part of the problem is you have men who take advantage of women who drink too much and there are women who drink too much. And we need to educate our daughters and our children in that regard.”

— Dr. Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, President Emeritus and current Professor of Public Service at George Washington University

Got that, ladies? You need to remain sober enough at all times to be capable of punching a dude in the nose. If they “misbehave.” (Can you think of a word that more thoroughly diminishes the seriousness of sexual assault than “misbehave”? I cannot.) And obviously they will misbehave because boys will be boys, amirite? 

I know, I know. You already have other drinking limits you’ve gotta to worry about. You need to stay under the very important Drunk Driving Limit if you’re planning on getting behind the wheel. Depending on your plans the next day, you may want to steer clear of the Horrible Hangover Limit if you don’t want a rough morning. For awhile there I had to be real careful about my personal Pouring Beer on Assholes Limit. The Sexting Exes Limit is almost not worth keeping track of because, lets be real, it’s nearly always broken.

Of course, like all these limits, the Nose Punching Limit, will vary from person to person, so you’ll have to do some trial and error here. I have not actually ever punched someone in the nose, so I guess I’ll have to practice that too! I know what you’re thinking: Wouldn’t it be easier if men just stayed under their personal Unable to Recognize and/or Respect Consent Limit? Silly girl, you know you can’t put limits on men. They were naturally made to break them! Like animals or children or outlaws. It’s biology, or evolution, I think. Definitely just The Way The World Works.

That’s why women are in charge of managing their limits too. If women aren’t careful about their Flirting Limit, men might be end up on the other side their Unable to Take a Fucking Hint Limit. Women’s various Skin Exposure Limits ensure that men are not pushed past their Objectifying Limit, Distracted in Class Limit, and Impure Thoughts Limit. Sure, it’s hard — and risky — work managing other people’s limits, and yes, it does require you to restrict your own freedom quite a bit, but someone’s gotta do it.

And hey, every now and then you may get to enforce the limits with a punch in the nose, which is actually sounding like a pretty good conciliation prize right about now.

Maya DusenberyMaya feels kinda bad for the dude who someday will receive a punch in the nose from her that is powered by the frustration of a lifetime of unfair limits.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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