From the Everyman's Library edition.
Just before harassing the Baronness in the park. Polina says "And why should you insult a woman? You'll sooner get beaten with a stick".
Is this an appeal to reason? That he shouldn't do it because he will get a beatdown.
He'll get whacked with the stick before he can insult or so he'd be better off insulting the man who is going to whack him/ or because he did whack him.
The protagonist would rather take a beating than insult a woman ie. is a masochist.
OR SOMETHING ELSE?