Tag Archives: domestic violence

5 Thoughts on the Ray Rice Incident

I need to share some thoughts. Because some of the failures of logic presented as opinions in the last 24 hours would be silly if they weren’t so serious.

1) Victims of abuse often make decisions that individuals with healthy states of mind and in healthy relationships would not make. The fact that Janay Palmer married Ray Rice after he knocked her out isn’t evidence that she’s cool with domestic violence. Instead, it is evidence of just how common and insidious abuse is. There are loads of research on this.  See Stockholm Syndrome for a dramatic example. 

2) The circumstances around leaving an abusive situation are far more complex than those of us on the outside can appreciate. But equally important is that women do leave abusive partners and are still abused. In 2009, I met a woman who went to high school with my girlfriend.  She was memorable because she was cool. She had dimples, I think, and laughed easily. Less than a year later, that woman was killed on her doorstep by her EX-boyfriend, who subsequently killed himself in a car a few blocks away. Leaving him wasn’t enough. Rational actions mean nothing to irrational people. For more on this, see #WhyIStayed

3) I don’t condone domestic violence no matter the gender of the aggressor. However, I also do not condone fallacies of false equivalence. Ray Rice’s left hook to his fiancé’s face is an utterly disproportionate response to ANYTHING that occurred before it happened. If you see this in a ‘she hit him and deserves to get hit back’ binary, then your critical thinking skills are lacking, and could use some work. My nephew punched me in the eye a few months ago. I learned in the most unfortunate way that the kid’s got a solid right hand. By the flawed logic I’ve seen floating in cyberspace, I should’ve punched him right back. He’s 2 and 1/4 my size, but eye for an eye. No exceptions.  

4) When it comes to football, cats treat the game like the holy grail and coaches and players like gods. It’s disturbing. Remember that the entire Penn State football program turned a blind eye to rampant acts of sexual abuse of children. Those men protected Jerry Sandusky, and Penn State football, for years. The kids, not so much. 

Of course, Ray Rice isn’t the only football player who has committed a crime against women. As many have pointed out, Rice’s firing makes no profound statements about the League’s tolerance for domestic violence. So, this isn’t a watershed moment. Nonetheless, that others haven’t been punished isn’t grounds for leniency in Ray Rice’s case. It is grounds for investigation and/or policy changes for the entire organization. 

5) Lastly, some folks agreed when Stephen A. Smith opined that, lest they be subject to a beat down, women would save themselves trouble if they just wouldn’t provoke men. This reasoning is problematic because it lets men off the hook for behaving like fucking savages in a civilized society. Provocation is incredibly subjective when “provoking” a man who, in most cases is physically dominant, can range from an involuntary smile or touch to a deliberate act of violence. Provocation is an arbitrary concept and leaves all the onus on women; it leaves us to walk on eggshells around men. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

As an evolved society, we should expect that adults can control themselves enough to not resort to violence when they have disagreements. We’re not there, I acknowledge that. However, at the very least, we should be disgusted witnessing a bully knock his wife-to-be unconscious.  

 


It’s Bigger than Rihanna and Chris Brown

Y’all really mad at Rhi Rhi for ridin with Chris Brown again?  You think this sets a bad example for our girls, don’t you?

*sighs*  Please, I beg of you, miss me with the opportunistic outrage on this one.

Why?  I’ll tell you why.

Because Chris Brown is no different from any other dude who can’t handle life without fisticuffs.  And because Rihanna is no different from any other grown ass woman entitled to make her own grown ass decisions – without regard to the fickle feelings of the public-at-large.

Instead of lambasting Rihanna about the choices she made for her own life, perhaps we could examine what would make a woman, in general, wanna cozy back up to a dude who mistakes her for a punching bag.  This Chris Brown/Rihanna situation is indeed much bigger, much deeper, and much sadder than the two of them.

Last week on Twitter, the hashtag, #itsbiggerthantooshort, accompanied nearly every article, and every blog post responding to Too Short’s XXL column, where he offers to middle-school boys “fatherly advice” on “how to turn girl’s out.”  Such counsels from Professor Pimp include:  “You push her up against the wall…you take your finger and put a little spit on it and you stick your finger in her underwear and you rub it on there and watch what happens.”  Too Short is a 45 year old man offering this advice to children who probably only met puberty, like, 20 minutes ago.  They’re barely in high school.  But this kind of thing starts early.  And therein lies my point.

Nature versus nurture is always a relevant debate.  In this case, in nature, we exist as men and women – undoubtedly different, but inherently equal.  In nurture, through socialization, we learn our roles, and adjust our psychology to fit the narrative.  In other words, we know that women are born with boundless potential, just like men.  But at some point (usually early in the game), women are supposed to step aside and give way to the supremacy of maleness.  And we’re supposed to do so benevolently, as our duty to mankind.  Pardon me, or don’t.  But fuck that, nonetheless.

Toure’s book, Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness, includes an excerpt from Cornel West which asserts that “When you really get at the Black normative gaze, what you find is that oftentimes the white supremacy inside of Black minds is so deep that the white normative gaze and the Black normative gaze are not that different.”  Substitute “Black” for female, substitute “white” for male, and substitute “white supremacy” for sexism and/or chauvinism.  What you get is what I discussed  my Tyranny of the Majority post earlier this month – a flawed perspective that’s rooted in a narrative which privileges the people who’ve historically controled it.  You get a room full of men testifying before Congress about women’s reproductive rights; you get an old man telling little boys how to sexually assault little girls; you get Jane Smith cross-examining Jane Doe about what she did to John Doe to make him go upside her head.
I remember listening to the Russ Parr Morning Show shortly after the photos of Rihanna’s badly bruised face were released.  It was both disturbing and disheartening to hear just how many women defended Chris Brown’s actions that night.  “I mean, you don’t know what happened; you don’t know what she said to him; I mean, real talk, women can bring that outta you…” were some of the responses.  After Brown won the Grammy for Best R&B Album (what in the entire fuck was that about?!?!?!), it was equally disconcerting to see the number of tweets from women would gladly stand in line to be bitch-slapped by Chris Brown if it meant he’d show them some attention.  The Huffington Post compiled some these tweets for our viewing displeasure:  See ‘Chris Brown Can Beat Me’ tweets.
Howbout instead of outsourcing the dignity of our baby girls to celebrities, we take on that responsibility personally – as parents, family members, friends, mentors, community leaders, etc.  There’s no reason that Rihanna’s decision to be with Chris Brown (either romantically or platonically) should matter so much to anyone who happens not to have a personal, vested interest in either Rihanna or Chris Brown.
But more importantly, why don’t we, as women, cease viewing ourselves through someone else’s normative gaze.  Our perspectives, our power, and our interests are just as important and just as productive as our male counterparts’. We should be drilling this into our girls’ heads from day one that they, alone, are valuable;  they don’t need men to validate them.  And they damn sure don’t need men who express their emotions in jabs and uppercuts within infinity feet of their lives.  Love, attention, and affection aren’t measured in testosterone-induced aggression; love, attention, and affection don’t produce bruises, black eyes, and busted lips.
I’m happy to say that after a sit down with the crazy-dope writer, Dream Hampton, Too Short apologized for his rant.  And he cautions us against judging him incorrectly, insisting that though his music may continue to be filled with misogyny, “I still have morals.”  I’m not so sure he really gets it, but whatever.
I urge women to take ownership of their power.  Run for office; write books and shit; speak up and speak out.  Don’t let your story be written from a flawed perspective, by some guy (and, for sure, not all guys.  But enough guys.) who sees you as a thing to be conquered.  Tamed.  Subdued.  Or who views your femininity, generally, as a weakness.
Be responsible for your own happiness.  Harness your power and live out the full bounty of your potential.  Write your own story and don’t ever negotiate your self-respect or your intelligence, or your well-being for his (or anyone’s) attention.
**”For Girls.” was the first post I ever wrote; it goes about the same subject from a slightly different perspective.  Check me out – it’s like you’re getting a two for one.  🙂