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.