Whenever I want to give up on humanity and manage to avoid a conversation with family, I can always count on the Internet to renew my interests in seeing the absolute worst in people. If I need a lil’ extra something-something to really make me cynical, mass media and the numerous insensitive, hallow-thinking, and misogyny-pushing minions they employ are there to pitch in. Case in point, the aftermath of TMZ leaking additional footage of now-former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice violently assaulting his then-fiancée, Janay Rice, and the varying insensitive, cruel, and downright stupid responses to an issue that requires more nuance, larger empathy, and certainly less simpletons talking.
For starters, men invoking the name of Solange and her elevator aggression in order to deflect from the fact that Ray Rice had absolutely no business knocking out Janay cold and stepping over her like she was absolutely nothing. This is akin to cries over the verdict of the O.J. Simpson trial to counter claims of a racially biased criminal justice system.
Okay, fellas, sure, Solange should have kept her hands to herself, but this doesn’t negate that when it comes to intimate partner violence, men are the primary aggressor.
Likewise, it does not excuse Ray Rice for mishandling whatever “provocation” anyone feels he had before assaulting his now-wife. If you’re a man — especially one as strong as a pro football player — you are able to diffuse a situation without resorting to the violence Ray Rice did. You do not have to punch a woman in the face. It does not matter whether Solange did a powerhouse wheel kick on Jay Z’s head in front of Jesus and threatened to smack him with a Bible if he sassed her too.
Men are mostly responsible for domestic violence and it is the responsibility of men to make it pain and clear that in no certain terms is it okay to beat your partner.
Then there are the village idiots who find a woman being beaten something worthy of “humor.” Enter the jovial fools who anchor the morning masochism that is FOX News’ “Fox & Friends.” Co-host Brian Kilmeade joked, “I think the message is, take the stairs.” After Dumb finished, Dumber co-host Steve Doocy responded, “The message is when you’re in an elevator, there’s a camera.”
I think the real message is awfully apparent: Some people in front of the camera belong in the back of the bus heading to some job that has nothing to do with broadcast journalism.
Not to be outdone are the people who believe the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL “overreacted” for their handling of Rice (his release from his contract, indefinite suspension). One of those folks with the loudest bullhorn is serial woman beater Floyd Mayweather, who argued, “I think there’s a lot worse things that go on in other people’s households, also. It’s just not caught on video, if that’s safe to say.”
“Worse” instances of domestic violence doesn’t make what Ray Rice did any less reprehensible.
From Mayweather’s despicable perspective, the severity of punishment ought to be based on just how much damage the abuser does. But considering Mayweather’s history – as noted by Deadspin, “having been convicted of, pleaded guilty or no contest to, or pleaded down from at least 15 combined counts of domestic violence, battery, harassment, stalking, and violating a protective order” – one can’t be surprised. Or mortified, for that matter.
Floyd Mayweather is a misogynist with a history of aggression against women, but he is protected by his celebrity and power. As is Mark Fuller, a sitting federal judge in Alabama, who was also caught on videotape beating his wife at a hotel only to be given the lightest of taps on the wrist that’ll allow him a prompt return to the bench without a record.
That’s why Janay Rice’s media-condemning response to Ray Rice’s release from the Ravens is not surprising. More often than not, women who are victim to domestic violence are not given the protection and resources they need to move on — leaving them prone to remain with their abuser.
But as CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin recently explained on air, “A crime against domestic violence is a crime against the community.” And when it comes to Black women specifically, Black women die from domestic violence at three times the rate of White women. So when I hear people like Chuck D say that someone like Janay Rice being “really raised” by her father would have made her avoid domestic violence, all I can think is “grow up.” Then shut up.
The culture has to change. We have to fight misogyny, have more empathy for victims, be more proactive in providing them with the tools they need to both heal and move on from their attackers, and most of all, teach men how not to treat a woman. If you don’t align with that frame of thinking, you are part of the problem. If you enable or defend domestic violence in any way, you are part of the problem. And if you are a part of the problem, here’s hoping you don’t procreate.