Is It Wrong to Call This 20-Year-Old Who Punched a Street Harasser a Hero?

A photo of a woman grinning and flashing the bandaged hand, injured after punching the misogynist sack of shit she overheard threatening to rape a stranger, has amost 56,000 notes on Tumblr and counting. The assailant says she never intended for the image to go viral nor to become a role model for the thousands of people who are now virtually applauding her actions.

Last weekend, Kelsey, the 20-year-old Minnesotan behind Ignite My Thoughts, was walking home after last call when she heard two men catcalling a woman across the street who was "obviously intoxicated." When the woman silently quickened her pace, one of the guys allegedly said, "Fucking cunt, I'd take her into the back alley and show her what I'm made of. She won't even see it coming," and then laughed.

Kelsey turned around and punched him in the face, and — if you couldn't tell by her mischievous grin — she has no regrets:

I hope your mother/girlfriend/sister/friends/everyone asks what happened to your nose. I hope you have to explain that you thought it'd be funny to joke with your friend about raping the drunk girl across the street. I bet you didn't think that the girl who was walking in front of you would turn around and punch you in the face. You're a filthy piece of shit and I don't regret this at all.

The day after the incident, Kelsey was at work when she received a message that her blog post was "going viral." By the time she got home, the entry had tens of thousands of notes and Kelsey had hundreds of personal messages — some congratulating her, others threatening to rape her. "Hey you crazy bitch, he was joking about rape, not raping the drunk bimbo, not even plotting on raping her, he was JOKING," one person wrote. "Wow. And you seem proud of what you did. Seriously, you're the one who deserves to get raped."

"I don't regret [punching the man], though I do understand that there are other ways that the situation could have been handled," Kelsey wrote in a follow-up post. "At the time, however, what he said as a 'joke' also seemed very much like a legitimate threat." She pointed out that the blog post was for herself and her friends and she wasn't trying to make a grand statement about fighting back: "I'm not telling people to go out and hit 'everybody who offends you' (though many of you are believing that was the point). However, I do believe that serious action needs to be taken towards rape culture."

The "responsible" part of me knows that violence is never the best answer, but there's an irrepressible little voice in my head that wants to thank her, because few things make me feel more vulnerable and frustrated than street harassment. When I've tried to talk back to catcallers, I've been called a dyke (because obviously I'm disinterested in men if I'm disinterested in being the target of aggressive obscenities), a bitch and a slut. I would never physically fight back, but, honestly, that's mostly because I'm a 5'2'' weakling. I'm not saying what she did was right, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't happy someone taught that asshole a lesson he hopefully won't forget.

(Image via Ignite my Thoughts)